Any club member under the age of 18 is legally classed as a child and hence the club must heed the advice and guidance of UK Athletics. As our minimum age of membership is 16, there could be very little difference in your behaviour towards a 16 year old and an adult. However, your attention is drawn to the extracts incorporated below taken from the UKA document “Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Athletics”, which forms part of this policy.
The club’s Welfare Officers are Chris Usher and Fern Parker.
Safeguards are measures put in place to help reduce the risk of children, young people and adults being harmed.
Child Protection is part of safeguarding and refers to the action taken to protect specific children from abuse or neglect.
Children and young adults have a right to enjoy sport, free from all forms of abuse, exploitation and poor practice.
All children and young people have equal rights to protection from harm.
All individuals within the club have a duty of care to safeguard children when they are participating in club activities under their auspices.
If you have any concerns about a child’s welfare, you must raise them immediately with the club’s welfare officer, the club chairman or his deputy, or failing that the local authority’s social services department. If you are unsure as to what exactly you are expected to report, refer to the guidance below, and if you still remain uncertain, report it.
Do not put yourself, or allow yourself to be put, in a compromising position, such as being left alone in a secluded area with a child, giving a child a lift home alone etc.
Every child should be accompanied on a run, or any club activity, by other club members. As with adult members, the group leader must ensure the group is kept together – either by looping back or stopping to regroup at regular intervals – such that no child, or adult for that matter, runs on their own or gets left behind.
Should you fear for the safety of any member during a club activity, but especially that of a child, you must take immediate and appropriate action. (For example, if a child runs in the road putting themselves at risk, warn them about the dangers in doing so).
If a child repeatedly fails to heed your advice or warnings, report the matter immediately, initially to the group leader, then to the club’s welfare officer and/or chairman.
As a last resort if a child consistently puts themselves at risk and fails to respond to warnings, thus causing distress and concern to other members, they will be dismissed from the club, without recourse to a refund.
For your additional guidance, UK Athletics have produced the following guidelines on what constitutes best and poor practice; definitions of abuse and how to respond to disclosures:
Best practice means:
• Being open and conducting all interactions with children in a public place and with appropriate consent.
• Avoiding situations where you are alone with one child.
• If you have to meet or coach one child ensure it is conducted in an open environment, and where full consent and emergency contact details have been provided.
• If you are travelling alone with a child gain appropriate consent, avoid consistently having one child alone with you in the car and never sharing a room on your own with a child.
• Challenging bullying, harassment, foul or provocative language or controlling behaviour that could upset individuals or reduce them to tears.
• Never ignoring bullying by parents, coaches or children. Listening to and supporting the person being bullied.
• Maintaining an appropriate relationship with children,
• Treating children fairly, with respect and avoiding favouritism.
• Being friendly and open and ensuring that relationships are appropriate for someone in a position of power and trust.
• Avoiding unnecessary physical contact. In certain circumstances physical contact is perfectly acceptable and appropriate, as long as it is not intrusive or disturbing to the child/athlete and that consent for contact has been given by the individual and appropriate parental consent.
• Being qualified and insured for the activities you are coaching and ensuring that your licence remains valid. Ensure that your practice is appropriate for the age and development stage of each athlete.
Adopting best practice not only ensures the child’s welfare, it also protects clubs and individuals from possible wrongful allegations. Children very rarely make false allegations. If they do, it is usually because they are confused or covering up for someone else’s behaviour and hoping their action might scare the real abuser into stopping.
The following are examples of poor practice and should be avoided:
• Engaging in rough, physical or sexually provocative games including horseplay.
• A coach shouting comments at athletes when they are not working hard enough.
• A coach using harassing and discriminatory language such as ‘you run like a girl.’
• A coach engaging in an intimate relationship with one of his/her athletes.
• A group of athletes ganging up on a new athlete and refusing to talk to him/her.
• A coach taking a group of children away to a weekend event on his/her own.
The list above is not exhaustive and many other examples exist.
If a child athlete …
• is accidentally hurt;
• appears distressed in any manner;
• appears to be sexually aroused by the actions of another; or
• misunderstands or misinterprets the actions of another.
Then the incident should be reported immediately to the Club Welfare Officer, who must make a written note of the incident and parents and/or appropriate adults informed.
Abuse can occur wherever there are children. There are four main types of abuse:
• Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.
• Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express his/her views, deliberately silencing him/her or ‘making fun’ of what he/she say or how he/she communicates. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyber bullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, which especially applies to when a child shares a protected characteristic e.g. racist, sexual or homophobic bullying or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
• Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
• Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment); failing to protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger; ensuring adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or ensuring access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs. Disabled children are particularly vulnerable to abuse and are at least three times more likely to be abused than non-disabled children. Those working with them must be aware of this and willing to acknowledge their concerns. There can be a tendency to make allowances for families with sick or disabled children. Organisations and individuals may over identify with the child’s parents/carers and be reluctant to accept that abuse or neglect is taking or has taken place, or seeing it as being attributable to the stress and difficulties of caring for a disabled child. When suspecting abuse, always ask: “Would this be acceptable if the child were not disabled?”
Responding to Disclosures, Suspicions and Allegations
While it is not the responsibility of volunteers or club members to decide whether a concern constitutes abuse, it is their responsibility to report any concerns about the welfare of a child.
These concerns may arise due to:
• A child disclosing that they are being abused.
• The behaviour of an adult towards a child.
• A number of indicators observed in a child over a period of time.
How to respond to a disclosure
• Probe for more information than is offered.
• Speculate or make assumptions.
• Show shock or distaste.
• Make comments about the person against whom the allegations have been made.
• Make promises or agree to keep secrets.
• Give a guarantee of confidentiality.
All suspicions and disclosures must be reported appropriately. It is acknowledged that strong emotions can be aroused particularly in cases of possible sexual abuse or where there is a misplaced loyalty to a colleague.
Any person with information of a disclosure, allegation or concern about the welfare of a child must immediately inform the club’s designated Club Welfare Officer.
- Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Athletics
- NSPCC Standards for Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Sport
- NSPCC Introductory Guide to Safeguarding and Child Protection for the Voluntary and Community Sector
- HM Government Working Together to Safeguard Children
Policy first drawn up: January 2020
Policy review date: January 2023