Child Protection Policy

Professionals

All individuals involved in sports activities with children and young people have a responsibility to safeguard their welfare. The majority of children who participate in sport do so in a safe and positive atmosphere with the support and encouragement of those involved with the sport. However a number of children do not have a positive experience and sport like other aspects of society now recognises the need to guard against individuals who may abuse their position in a sport. An increasing number of children and older athletes are now speaking out about their experiences of abuse and those involved in this field are beginning build up a clearer picture of the nature and extent of abuse in sport.
There are a number of steps you can take to promote the welfare of the children and young people involved in sport. Within this section you will find advice and information about developing good practice in relation to child protection.
You should also consider contacting the governing body of your sport or your professional body who may have produced a child protection policy and detailed guidance about how to respond to concerns.

What is abuse?

Child Abuse is any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm. It commonly occurs within a relationship of trust or responsibility and represents an abuse of power or a breach of trust. Abuse can happen to a child regardless of their age, gender, race or ability.

Abuse and Neglect

Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger.

The above definitions are adapted from Department of Health (1999) Working Together to Safeguard Children – A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. It is important to recognise the impact and extent of bullying and discrimination in the lives of young people. Some people may not regard bullying and discrimination as child abuse because of the settings in which this often takes place and also because it is often other young people who are responsible for the behaviour

What is bullying?

Bullying is often defined in terms of three components,

In the NSPCC study the most common experiences of bullying and discrimination reported by young people was at the hands of other young people.

Boys were most likely to experience physical bullying or threats, have property stolen or damaged. Girls were more likely to be ignored or not spoken to.
Bullying by adults was a less common experience but one in ten reported this. Of this form of bullying the most common experiences were:

The study confirmed previous investigations suggesting that bullying and discrimination by young people is one of the most common forms of harmful aggression experienced by young people.
Another important fact identified in the study is that for a quarter of those young people involved the experience of bullying and discrimination had long term harmful effects.
Some typical indications
Remember that every child is unique and it is difficult to predict how their behaviour will change as a result of their experience of abuse. The impact of abuse is likely to be affected by their age, the nature and extent of the abuse and the help and support they receive. There are some behaviour that is commonly seen in children who are abused but remember they may only give an indication and not confirmation.

Listening to children

As an adult with trust and influence with children sports coaches are in a powerful position to recognise or receive information about abuse. However remember it is not your responsibility to decide if a child is being abused. Your role is to act on those concerns.
Many sports have clear guidelines as to how child protection concerns should be dealt with and you should make yourself aware of these and must follow them if you have concerns. Failing to respond or responding in contravention to your sport guidelines can have serious implications for the future handling of the case.
If you are involved in a sport that does not have guidelines here is some advice as to how to respond to concerns.
Children will express themselves verbally or non verbally and it is important to respond sensitively and carefully to what they are saying or in how they are behaving.

Responding to non verbal concerns

Changes in a child’s behaviour can be the result of a wide range of factors and this makes it difficult to identify if the changes are linked to abuse. Even signs such as bruising or other injuries cannot be taken as “proof” of abuse. However if you have concerns you have a responsibility to act on those concerns.
Many sports will have guidelines about how you should respond to concerns arising from physical signs or other concerns. It is important you follow those guidelines.
If you are involved in a sport that does not have guidance here is a guide as to how you should respond.

The Coaches Charter

  1. Coaches must respect the rights, dignity and worth of every person and treat everyone equally within the context of their sport.
  2. Coaches must place the well-being and safety of the performer above the development of performance. They should follow all guidelines laid down by the sports governing body and hold appropriate insurance cover.
  3. Coaches must develop an appropriate working relationship with performers, especially children, based on mutual trust and respect. Coaches must not exert undue influence to obtain personal benefit or reward.
  4. Coaches must encourage and guide performers to accept responsibility for their own behaviour.
  5. Coaches should hold up to date nationally recognised governing body coaching qualifications.
  6. Coaches must ensure the activities they direct or advocate are appropriate for the age, maturity, experience and ability of the individual.
  7. Coaches should at the outset clarify with performers, and where appropriate their parents, exactly what is expected of them and what performers are entitled to expect from their coach.
  8. Coaches should co-operate fully with other specialists (e.g. other coaches, officials, sport scientists, doctors, physiotherapists) in the best interest of the performer.
  9. Coaches should always promote the positive aspects of their sport (e.g. fair play) and never condone rule violations or the use of prohibited substances.
  10. Coaches must consistently display high standards of behaviour and appearance