We are heading into an exciting weekend when the mighty Lionesses take on Spain in the Women’s World Cup in Australia. It’s tremendous to see the accelerating interest in women’s sport with 2 billion people having tuned in around the world to the FIFA Women’s World Cup that is being held in Australia and New Zealand. I am proud (once again) of our partnership with It’s a Penalty who are using this incredible platform to raise awareness and drive change to keep children safe in sport and eradicate abuse of children by people in positions of trust.
It’s a Penalty works collaboratively to prevent human trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. By harnessing the unifying power of sport, they execute global and local educational and awareness campaigns during major sporting events. These campaigns inform spectators and communities about crucial signs of abuse and empower them to report suspicious activity.
Click here to view their website.
I’ll never forget my first encounter with It’s a Penalty at an event at the Brazilian embassy in London in 2015. I met a young lady called Rose who told her powerful story of exploitation and her journey to safety. In 2013 she met Sarah de Carvahlo who at the time was CEO of Happy Child, a charity she established to support the children living lives of danger and exploitation on the streets of Brazil. Rose had been exploited on the streets from the age of 11 and forced to work with ‘clients’ from all over the world; like the other children, she wanted to escape but could see no way out. Happy Child provided a home, education and a route to a safe and fulfilling life. Her talk was factual and hard to hear, with poverty, drugs and desperation making these children so vulnerable for exploitation.
The world cup was taking place in Brazil in 2014 and Sarah saw this international gathering of people as an opportunity to harness the event as a force for good. The first It’s a Penalty campaign was launched, with sports stars including Gary Lineker speaking to fans to raise their awareness of child sexual exploitation and remind them that it is not ok to behave differently when away from home. The campaign has grown and extended its impact, never wavering from the passion to end child sexual exploitation and human trafficking. To date, the It’s a Penalty Campaign has run during 12 major sporting events, including the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the 2016 Rio Olympics & Paralympics, the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics & Paralympics and four Super Bowls including the 2021 Super Bowl LV in Tampa – reaching an average of 180 million people worldwide per campaign. In 2024, there are campaigns at the Superbowl in Las Vegas and the Olympics and Paralympics in Paris
The impact of It’s a Penalty campaigns is growing all the time with global & local agencies joining forces to make a real impact. From taxi drivers to hotel receptionists, to friends and communities, anyone can spot a child or adult in danger if they #knowthesigns. https://itsapenalty.org/knowthesigns/. We can make a difference.
There are so many girls (and boys) like Rose, they are real people with lives full of potential. At Sysdoc we are immensely proud of our partnership with It’s a Penalty and the power of people and agencies working together to land real and measurable change.
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Head of People