Teasing, taunts and threats on the nation’s playing fields

Children as young as eight are victims of mental and physical bullying on the school playing field, according to recent research published by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the ‘Chance to Shine’ campaign.

As the cricket season gets underway, many pupils will view their summer games lessons and matches with trepidation.

Two-thirds (66%) of 1,010 parents of children aged eight to 16 polled say they witness different forms of mental intimidation while watching their children play sport, with teasing (43%), swearing (40%), taunts (34%) and verbal threats (16%) common tactics of the sports bullies.

To help teach young people how to play matches in a competitive but sporting manner, MCC and Chance to Shine are delivering a nationwide scheme to encourage ‘fair play’ in schools.

From today, Chance to Shine coaches will deliver assemblies and lessons in good sportsmanship to around half a million children in 4,000 state schools, as part of the MCC Spirit of Cricket scheme.

Dads are more likely to notice the mind games when children play sport, but mums are more likely to take action when they witness it.

Mums are far more likely than dads to take the issue up with the teacher or coach; whereas dads are more likely to confront the bully themselves. A third of parents (34%) witness another parent upsetting children involved in a game or match.

It wasn’t all bad news, as the image of the stereotypical sadistic sports teacher seems to be on the decline. Two fifths of parents recall how they were teased, taunted and verbally undermined by their PE teacher or coach when they were at school.

Today, however, more than two thirds of children (67%) polled say they had never seen this kind of behaviour by staff.

John Stephenson, Head of Cricket at MCC says, “The results from the survey highlight an alarming trend in school sport, which needs to be proactively addressed.

MCC’s ongoing partnership with Chance to Shine provides the perfect vehicle to do this, as children get the opportunity to learn about the MCC Spirit of Cricket principles of playing hard, but fair.”

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