Child protection

 

Sections

 

1.      Introduction

2.      Policy statement/aims

3.      Promoting good practice

4.      Good practice guidelines

5.      Use of photographic/filming equipment

6.      Vetting of instructors

7.      Responding to allegations or suspicions

8.      Reporting concerns about poor practice or suspected abuse

9.      Confidentiality

10.    Enquiries and further action

11.    Bullying

12.    Reporting concerns outside the immediate sporting environment (e.g. a parent or carer)

13.    Providing information to police or social services

 

 

1.        Introduction

All sporting organisations which make provision for children and young people must ensure that:

  • the welfare of the child is paramount
  • all children, whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin religious beliefs and/or sexual identity have the right to protection from abuse
  • all suspicions and allegations of abuse and poor practice will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately
  • all instructors/officials (paid/unpaid) working within the sport have a responsibility to report concerns to the appropriate officer.
  • Instructors/officials are not trained to deal with situations of abuse or to decide if abuse has occurred.

 

2.           Policy statement/aims

SKC England has a duty of care to safeguard all children involved in SKC England from harm. All children have a right to protection, and the needs of disabled children and others who may be particularly vulnerable must be taken into account. SKC England will ensure the safety and protection of all children involved in SKC England through adherence to the Child Protection guidelines adopted by SKC England.

A child is defined as a person under the age of 18 (The Children Act 1989).

 

Policy aims

The aim of the SKC England Child Protection Policy is to promote good practice:

  • providing children and young people with appropriate safety and protection whilst in the care of SKC England
  • allow all instructors/officials to make informed and confident responses to specific child protection issues.

 

3.           Promoting good practice

Child abuse, particularly sexual abuse, can arouse strong emotions in those facing such a situation. It is important to understand these feelings and not allow them to interfere with your judgement about the appropriate action to take.

Abuse can occur within many situations including the home, school and the sporting environment. Some individuals will actively seek employment or voluntary work with young people in order to harm them. An instructor or official will have regular contact with young people and be an important link in identifying cases where they need protection. All suspicious cases of poor practice should be reported following the guidelines in this document.

When a child enters the club activity having been subjected to child abuse outside the sporting environment, sport can play a crucial role in improving the child’s self-esteem. In such instances the club activity organiser must work with the appropriate agencies to ensure the child receives the required support.

 

4.           Good practice guidelines

All personnel should be encouraged to demonstrate exemplary behaviour in order to promote children’s welfare and reduce the likelihood of allegations being made. The following are common sense examples of how to create a positive culture and climate.

Good practice means

  • Always working in an open environment (e.g. avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication with no secrets).
  • Treating all young people/disabled adults equally, and with respect and dignity.
  • Always putting the welfare of each young person first, before winning or achieving goals.
  • Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance with participants (e.g. it is not appropriate for staff or officials to have an intimate relationship with a child or to share a room with them).
  • Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust which empowers children to share in the decision-making process.
  • Making sport fun, enjoyable and promoting fair play.
  • Involving parents/carers wherever possible. For example, encouraging them to take responsibility for their children in the changing rooms. If groups have to be supervised in the changing rooms, always ensure parents, instructors or officials work in pairs.
  • Ensuring that if any form of manual/physical support is required, it should be provided openly and according to guidelines provided by the Coach Education Programme. Care is needed, as it is difficult to maintain hand positions when the child is constantly moving. Young people and their parents should always be consulted and their agreement gained.
  • Keeping up to date with technical skills, qualifications and insurance in sport.
  • Ensuring that if mixed teams are taken away, they should always be accompanied by a male and female member of the association. However, remember that same gender abuse can also occur.
  • Ensuring that at tournaments or residential events, adults should not enter children’s rooms or invite children into their rooms.
  • Being an excellent role model - this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of young people.
  • Giving enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.
  • Recognising the developmental needs and capacity of young people and disabled adults - avoiding excessive training or competition and not pushing them against their will.
  • Securing parental consent in writing to act in loco parentis, if the need arises to administer emergency first aid and/or other medical treatment.
  • Keeping a written record of any injury that occurs, along with the details of any treatment given.
  • Requesting written parental consent if club officials are required to transport young people in their cars.

 

Practices to be avoided

The following should be avoided except in emergencies. If cases arise where these situations are unavoidable it should be with the full knowledge and consent of someone in charge in the club or the child’s parents. For example, a child sustains an injury and needs to go to hospital, or a parent fails to arrive to pick a child up at the end of a session:

  • avoid spending time alone with children away from others
  • avoid taking or dropping off a child to an event or activity.

 

Practices never to be sanctioned

The following should never be sanctioned. You should never:

  • engage in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay
  • share a room with a child
  • allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching
  • allow children to use inappropriate language unchallenged
    make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun
  • reduce a child to tears as a form of control
  • fail to act upon and record any allegations made by a child
  • do things of a personal nature for children or disabled adults, that they can do for themselves
  • invite or allow children to stay with you at your home unsupervised.

N.B. It may sometimes be necessary for staff or officials to do things of a personal nature for children, particularly if they are young or are disabled. These tasks should only be carried out with the full understanding and consent of parents and the players involved. There is a need to be responsive to a person’s reactions. If a person is fully dependent on you, talk with him/her about what you are doing and give choices where possible. This is particularly so if you are involved in any dressing or undressing of outer clothing, or where there is physical contact, lifting or assisting a child to carry out particular activities. Avoid taking on the responsibility for tasks for which you are not appropriately trained.
Incidents that must be reported/recorded

If any of the following occur you should report this immediately to the appropriate child welfare officer and record the incident. You should also ensure the parents of the child are informed:

  • if you accidentally hurt a player
  • if he/she seems distressed in any manner
  • if a player appears to be sexually aroused by your actions
  • if a player misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done.

 

5.           Use of photographic/filming equipment at sporting events

There is evidence that some people have used sporting events as an opportunity to take inappropriate photographs or film footage of young and disabled sportspeople in vulnerable positions. All clubs should be vigilant and any concerns should to be reported to the SKC England Child Welfare Officer.

Videoing as a coaching aid:

There is no intention to prevent club instructors using video equipment as a legitimate coaching aid. However, performers and their parents/carers should be made aware that this is part of the coaching programme and their consent obtained, and such films should be stored safely.

 

6.            Vetting of instructors

SKC England recognises that anyone may have the potential to abuse children in some way and that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure unsuitable people are prevented from working with children.

Disclosure and Barring Service

  • Valid and current Criminal Records Bureau or Disclosure and Barring Service certificate (Renewal every three years).
  • Their qualifications should be substantiated.
  • Their requirements and responsibilities should be clarified.
  • Child protection procedures are explained.
  • They should sign up to the organisation’s Code of Ethics and Conduct and Child Protection policy.
  • Analyse their own practice against established good practice, and to ensure their practice is not likely to result in allegations being made.
  • Recognise their responsibilities and report any concerns about suspected poor practice or possible abuse.
  • Respond to concerns expressed by a child or young person.
  • Work safely effectively with children.
  • Relevant personnel to receive advisory information outlining good practice and informing them about what to do if they have concerns about the behaviour of an adult towards a young person.
  • Relevant personnel to gain first aid training (where necessary).

 

7.           Responding to allegations or suspicions

It is not the responsibility of anyone involved SKC England, in a paid or unpaid capacity to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. However there is a responsibility to act on any concerns by reporting these to the appropriate officer or the appropriate authorities.
SKC England will assure all instructors/officials that it will fully support and protect anyone, who in good faith reports his or her concern that a colleague is, or may be, abusing a child.
Where there is a complaint against a member of the association there may be three types of investigation:

  • a criminal investigation
  • a child protection investigation
  • a disciplinary or misconduct investigation.

The results of the police and child protection investigation may well influence and inform the disciplinary investigation, but all available information will be used to reach a decision.

 

8.           Reporting concerns about poor practice or suspected abuse

Reporting concerns about poor practice:

If, following consideration, the allegation is clearly about poor practice the designated SKC England Child Welfare Officer will deal with it as a misconduct issue.

If the allegation is about poor practice by the SKC England Child Welfare Officer, or if the matter has been handled inadequately and concerns remain, it should be reported to the National Executive Committee who will decide how to deal with the allegation and whether or not to initiate disciplinary proceedings.

Reporting concerns about suspected abuse:

Any suspicion that a child has been abused by either a member of staff or an official should be reported to the SKC England Child Welfare Officer, who will take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child in question and any other child who may be at risk.

The SKC England Child Welfare Officer will refer the allegation to the social services department who may involve the police.

The parents or carers of the child will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the social services department.

The SKC England Child Welfare Officer should also notify the National Executive Committee who will deal with any media enquiries.

If the SKC England Child Welfare Officer is the subject of the suspicion/allegation, the report must be made to the National Executive Committee who will refer the allegation to Social Services.
If you are concerned about a child and unable to contact the designated person in your organisation, please call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.

 

9.      Confidentiality
Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only. This includes the following people:

  • the parents of the person who is alleged to have been abused
  • the person making the allegation
  • social services/police
  • the SKC England Child Welfare Officer

Seek social services advice on who should approach the alleged abuser (or parents if the alleged abuser is a child).
Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection laws (e.g. that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure).

10.    Enquiries and further action
Internal enquiries and possible suspension

The SKC England Child Welfare Officer will make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended pending further police and social services inquiries.

Irrespective of the findings of the social services or police inquiries the SKC England National Executive Committee will assess all individual cases to decide whether an instructor/official working on behalf of/representing the organisation should be reinstated and if so how this can be sensitively handled.

This may be a difficult decision; particularly where there is insufficient evidence to uphold any action by the police. In such cases, the SKC England National Executive Committee must reach a decision based upon the available information which could suggest that on a balance of probability; it is more likely than not that the allegation is true. The welfare of the child should remain of paramount importance throughout.

 

Support to deal with the aftermath of abuse

Consideration should be given to the kind of support that children, parents and members of staff may need. Use of helplines, support groups and open meetings will maintain an open culture and help the healing process.

The British Association for Counselling Directory is available from The British Association for Counselling, 1 Regent Place, Rugby CV21 2PJ, Tel: 01788 550899, Fax: 01788 562189, E-mail: bac@bacp.co.uk, Internet:www.bacp.co.uk .

Consideration should be given to what kind of support may be appropriate for the alleged perpetrator.
Allegations of previous abuse

Allegations of abuse may be made some time after the event (e.g. by an adult who was abused as a child or by a member of the association who is still currently working with children).

Where such an allegation is made, the association should follow the procedures as detailed above and report the matter to the social services or the police. This is because other children, either within or outside sport, may be at risk from this person. Anyone who has a previous criminal conviction for offences related to abuse is automatically excluded from working with children. This is reinforced by the details of the Protection of Children Act 1999.

 

11.    Bullying
Every child has the right to experience sport in a safe environment free from abuse and bullying.

Sports organisations play an important role in creating a positive club ethos that challenges bullying by empowering young people to understand the impact of bullying, how best to deal with it and agree standards of behaviour.

 

12.    Reporting concerns outside the immediate sporting environment (e.g. a parent or carer)
Report your concerns to the SKC England Child Welfare Officer, who should contact social services or the police as soon as possible.

If the SKC England Child Welfare Officer is not available, the person being told of or discovering the abuse should contact social services or the police immediately.

Social Services and the SKC England Child Welfare Officer will decide how to involve the parents/carers.

The SKC England Child Welfare Officer should also report the incident to the SKC England National Executive Committee. The National Executive Committee should ascertain whether or not the person/s involved in the incident play a role in SKC England and act accordingly.

Maintain confidentiality on a need to know basis only.

 

13.    Providing information to police or social services
Information about suspected abuse must be accurate and a detailed record should always be made at the time of the disclosure/concern.  It should include the following:

  • The child's name, age and date of birth of the child.
  • The child's home address and telephone number.
  • Whether or not the person making the report is expressing their own concerns or those of someone else.
  • The nature of the allegation. Include dates, times, any special factors and other relevant information.
  • Make a clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay.
  • A description of any visible bruising or other injuries. Also any indirect signs, such as behavioural changes.
  • Details of witnesses to the incidents.
  • The child’s account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising or other injuries occurred.
  • Have the parents been contacted?
  • If so what has been said?
  • Has anyone else been consulted? If so record details.
  • If the child was not the person who reported the incident, has the child been spoken to? If so what was said?
  • Has anyone been alleged to be the abuser? Record details.
  • Where possible referral to the police or social services should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours and the name of the contact who took the referral should be recorded.

If you have any concerns about a child or young person, call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, text 88858 or visit www.nspcc.org.uk for immediate advice.