England news April 16, 2012

MCC and Chance to Shine launch anti-bullying drive

ESPNcricinfo staff

MCC and the Chance to Shine charity have combined in a nationwide campaign to arrest what John Stephenson, MCC's head of cricket, has called an "alarming trend" of physical and mental bullying in sport.

Chance to Shine, which seeks to promote cricket in state schools, will send coaches into the state sector to promote good sportsmanship for around half a million children in 4,000 schools.

Research published by Chance to Shine to coincide with the end of the Easter holidays suggests children as young as eight-years-old are victims of mental and physical bullying on the school playing field.

Two-thirds (66%) of parents of children aged eight to 16 polled said they had seen different forms of mental intimidation while watching their children play sport. Teasing (43%), swearing (40%), taunts (34%) and verbal threats (16%) were all cited.

Most disturbingly, 42% of parents said that their child lost confidence after being bullied on the playing field, with half of that group showing reluctance to take further part as a result.

A separate survey of 1,250 schoolchildren suggested that parents were not being over-protective. More than half reported verbal abuse during school matches and a quarter of children said they had seen a team-mate deliberately tripped, kicked or pushed over.

Stephenson said: "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."

Wasim Khan, the chief executive of Chance to Shine, said: "It is worrying to hear that this kind of psychological warfare is being waged on our school playing fields. We are teaching children from a young age to play competitively, but to respect the opposition as well as their team-mates. We need to stamp out this bullying in school sport."

The full survey can be viewed in the media section of chancetoshine.org