Singapore hosts first Safe Sport Forum
24 May 2018
Various stakeholders gathered to share insights and commit to take concrete actions against sexual misconduct in the sporting fraternity
L to R: Mrs Tan Chen Kee, Divisional Director, Student Development Curriculum Division, Ministry of Education; Ms Jennifer Teoh, Director, Senior Principal Forensic Psychologist, Ministry of Social and Family Development; Assistant Commissioner Jarrod Pereira, Singapore Police Force; and Moderator, Mr Malik Aljunied, Deputy Director, CoachSG in the panel discussion at the Safe Sport Forum.
Singapore, 24 May 2018 – Over 150 people gathered on Tuesday for one common cause to prevent sexual misconduct in the sporting scene. In the first ever forum for the sporting fraternity here, representatives from the National Sport Associations (NSAs), the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), Sport Singapore (SportSG), Singapore Police Force (SPF), Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) convened at the SportSG Auditorium at the Singapore Sports Hub to dive deep into the issues and most importantly, look into the preventive measures to safeguard our athletes and coaches, as well as, sport participants in general.
In the forum’s opening address, Mr Richard Seow, Chairman, SportSG said, “It is timely and necessary to have these discussions now. In recent months, we have read or heard a number of stories on sexual misconduct and harassment within the sporting fraternity. Such actions go against the very fundamental values of sports – the values of respect, trust, honesty, integrity, and professionalism. It is an imperative that we address the issue and make a clear stand. Through these discussions and the actions taken, it must be our goal to establish a safer, more positive environment for our current and future athletes. Not only just for our athletes but for all who are part of sport in Singapore.”
The forum saw participants engage in a candid and robust discussion with all of them showing full commitment to keeping sport safe. SportSG has committed to lead the prevention strategy and education effort by establishing a Safe Sport Commission and a reporting process by next year. NSAs, too, pledged to having a sport safe policy and a safeguarding officer by 2019, that will provide a safe and trusted environment for staff, associates, athletes, coaches and officials in accordance with existing laws and codes of conduct.
Assistant Commissioner Jarrod Pereira, Singapore Police Force said, “The Police take a serious view against sexual offences against children and young persons. The Police will continue our engagement with SportSG to look at how to prevent such crime and to provide a safer training environment for all.”
Echoing the importance of the joint effort against abuse, Jennifer Teoh, Director, Senior Principal Forensic Psychologist, Ministry of Social and Family Development said, “The Forum is an important first step in gathering like-minded stakeholders and organisations to protect our children and youths in sports from abuse. Young athletes training to be the best in their respective sports are no different from other youths. They should be provided a safe and protective environment which is abuse-free. Sports organisations, like any other youth-focussed groups, have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure their charges are safe in their care. With proper processes and precautions in place, we can make a collective effort in establishing such safe environments.”
Sharing MOE’s perspectives at the forum, Mrs Tan Chen Kee, Divisional Director, Student Development Curriculum Division said, “MOE and schools have practices in place to safeguard the physical and emotional well-being of our students during co-curricular and enrichment activities. For school sports, there is a clear code of conduct that coaches are briefed on and are expected to adhere to. Coaches are expected to maintain a professional relationship with the student-athletes at all times. MOE will continue to work with our partners to provide a safe environment for our students to develop character through sports.”
Karen Norden, General Manager of Singapore Gymnastics shared, “I am excited to see Singapore being invested in making child safety a priority for sport. For Gymnastics, we are going to have discussions and move out of our comfort zone. It is important to have these discussions, and the fact that all these NSAs have come together shows that there will be a cultural change for sport in Singapore.”
Since early this year, SportSG has been leading focus group discussions with various associations, authorities and key stakeholders to better understand how any form of sexual harassment, physical or verbal abuse can be prevented in the local context.