Keep Kids Safe – Protecting Children from Abuse and Exploitation in Sport

As the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup approaches, kicking off on 20th July, It’s a Penalty have launched our latest campaign in the hosting countries of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. This year, It’s a Penalty, our athlete ambassadors and partners are teaming up to highlight the importance of keeping kids safe, particularly in sport.

We are delighted to have the support of five international women football stars who are all competing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament. They are Australian players Kyah Simon and Lydia Williams, as well as New Zealand’s Fern Ria Percival, Brazil’s Rafaelle Souza and England Lioness Mary Earps. Acting as our athlete ambassadors, they have lent their support to the Campaign and generously given their time to help us film the 30 second campaign video.

Through their involvement in the campaign video and their spearheading of the campaign’s key messages, we aim to capture the public’s attention and create momentum.

With statistics revealing that up to 1 billion children worldwide experience physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in a year, creating awareness and education about this issue is essential. 

The It’s a Penalty #KeepKidsSafe campaign is dedicated to: 

  • Education about the need to safeguard children from abuse and exploitation, particularly in sport and from offenders in positions of trust, as well as the signs to look out for #knowthesigns
  • Equipping children, parents and caregivers, sports organisations and coaches, sporting fans, tourists and the general public with ways to find support and how to report any concerns
  • Encouraging people to report suspected abuse or exploitation

Campaign Launch

From 1st July, the campaign video has been live on supporting international airlines. We are thrilled to have the support of Air New Zealand, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Emirates which are showing the campaign in-flight from July-August to reach a global audience as well as travelling fans.

On arrival in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand travellers will also see campaign posters at supporting airports Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland and Hamilton. All advertising has been donated to It’s A Penalty in-kind in support of this important campaign. 

The Global Launch for the It’s a Penalty Campaign took place on 6th July in Sydney. It was hosted as an in-person event by our Supporting Partner ICMEC Australia and livestreamed. It brought together the sports and travel and tourism industry, businesses, child protection experts and media. The panel discussion highlighted the importance of child protection from sexual exploitation and abuse, and the link between safeguarding, sport and business.


The Importance of Keeping Kids Safe in Sport

Every level of sport should be one where children are safe from abuse and exploitation. However, this is not always guaranteed, as we’ve seen in the many high profile cases of young athletes being abused whilst competing. The sharing of their experiences by victim-survivors who have come forward has drawn attention to the issue of child protection in sports all over the world. 

Child abuse and exploitation within sports encompass a wide range of concerns, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, neglect, and child trafficking. Young athletes can become vulnerable to manipulation, coercion, and mistreatment due to power imbalances and the intense pressure to succeed. By bringing attention to this issue, the Keep Kids Safe campaign strives to encourage a collective commitment to preventing and addressing these problems head-on.

Online safety concerns in sport are also an area of growing importance for children who play sport at all levels. Keeping kids safe online as well as offline is of critical importance for It’s a Penalty and our two expert campaign partners working in this space – eSafety Commissioner (Australia) and Netsafe (New Zealand).

To find out more about keeping kids safe in sport, visit our campaign webpage.

Our Campaign Activities

  • Global Launch of 2 month-long Campaign in Sydney on 6th July in advance of the start of the Women’s World Cup tournament (date). Supporting Partner ICMEC Australia hosts the launch event and panel  discussion to explore the link between safeguarding, sport and business and make recommendations.
  • International airlines – British Airways, Emirates, Cathay Pacific and Air New Zealand – are showing the campaign in-flight from July-August to reach a global audience.
  • Campaign posters will be displayed at Sydney and Brisbane Airports in Australia, and Auckland and Hamilton Airports in Aotearoa New Zealand. 
  • Campaign partners in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand help to roll out the campaign by aligning it with the specialist focus of their specific work and planned activities.
  • The online Information Hub created to support greater awareness-raising will signpost visitors to specialist agencies and opportunities for training. This is a live resource and will continue to be updated.
  • Targeted social media messaging amplifies the campaign with the purpose of educating and raising awareness both on-the-ground in Australia and New Zealand, and globally.
  • Local sports clubs and organisations across Australia and New Zealand are being encouraged to improve safeguarding of children from exploitation and abuse, in line with the International Safeguards for Children in Sport.
  • Online webinars held around Safe Sport Day (8th August).
  • Through our partnership with the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), the reach of the campaign is widened across the Pacific region, using the platform of youth football tournaments.

Information Hub – Empowering Communities to Take Action

One of the key aspects of the Keep Kids Safe campaign is empowering communities to be more aware and able to take action. Our campaign webpage – – contains knowledge and resources educating adults and children about their rights, the signs of abuse, and helplines and reporting mechanisms available to help anyone with concerns about a child or who has experienced abuse. 

The campaign is also working to equip sports organisations, coaches, volunteers, and other businesses with key information and tools to safeguard children from abuse and exploitation in sport.