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Safeguarding Policy

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Safeguarding Policy

This policy should be read in conjunction with other policies which cover many aspects of safeguarding children and is not an exhaustive policy of all safeguarding matters. 

Registration, Dropout & Club Transfers 

Loss of club members, including adult transfers, should be monitored. Any unusual or unexpected dropout or club transfer of children or Sports Leaders should be checked out by the Club Safeguarding Officer and/or the governing body. If any concerns regarding a child or children’s welfare are raised the matter should be handled in accordance with procedures outlined in the reporting Policy. 

Physical Contact 

Physical contact during sport should always be intended to meet the child’s needs, NOT the adult’s. Appropriate physical contact may be required to assist in the development of a skill or activity or for safety reasons e.g. to prevent or treat an injury. This should be in an open environment with the permission and understanding of the participant. 

When is physical contact appropriate in Tennis? 

Contact should be determined by the age and developmental stage of the participant – Don’t do something that a child can do for themselves. Physical contact between adults and children in sport should take place only when necessary to:

  • Develop tennis skills or techniques. 
  • Treat an injury. 
  • Prevent an injury or accident from occurring. 
  • Meet the requirements of the sport. 
  • Comfort a distressed child or to celebrate their success. 

What are good principles to follow? 

  • Physical contact should take place in the interests of and for the benefit of the child, rather than the adult involved. 
  • Adults should explain the nature of and reason for the physical contact to the child. 
  • Unless the situation is an emergency, the adult should ask the child for permission, for example to aid the demonstration a specific tennis technique. 
  • Sports clubs and coaches should provide an induction for new young members and their parents/carers that cover guidance about any physical contact that will be required as part of that activity. The reasons for the physical contact and the nature of the physical contact should be explained and agreed. 
  • Children should be encouraged to voice concerns they have if any physical contact makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. 
  • Contact should not involve touching genital areas, buttocks, breasts or any other part of the body that might cause a child distress or embarrassment. 
  • Physical contact should always take place in an open or public environment and not take place in secret or out of sight of others. 
  • Well intentioned gestures such as putting a hand on the shoulder or arm, can, if repeated regularly, lead to the possibility of questions being raised by observers. As a general principle adults in positions of responsibility should not make gratuitous or unnecessary physical contact with children and young people. Resistance from a child should be respected 

What about children who need specific assistance due to disability or injury? 

In the case of a young person with a disability specific support or assistance may be required. The following guidelines should be followed: 

  • Efforts should be made to receive as much information as possible on the child to ensure safe inclusion of him/her. There should be clear agreements on what is required. 
  • Parents/carers or their delegated care providers should be asked to undertake all intimate or personal care tasks for their child. This is not an appropriate role for coaches and others involved in leading activities. 
  • When children with disabilities are lifted or manually supported, they should be treated with dignity and respect. 
  • Relevant health and safety guidelines must be followed to ensure the safety of the child and those assisting. 
  • It is recommended that those assisting receive appropriate training in order to minimise the risk of injury both to themselves and the child. 

What about physical punishment? 

Any form of physical punishment is unlawful in all circumstances. It is a criminal offence and should be reported to the PSNI and Social Services. 

What about direct contact in coaching? 

Some sport or physical activities are more likely to require coaches or teachers to come into physical contact with children and young people from time to time in the course of their duties. Examples include teaching a pupil how to use a piece of apparatus or equipment or demonstrating a move or exercise during a coaching or teaching session in order to reduce the risk of injury due to falls or errors when performing. Adults should be aware of the limits within which such contact should properly take place, and of the possibility of such contact being misinterpreted. Over handling at all times should be avoided. 

Is it ok to comfort a child or celebrate success? 

There may be occasions where a distressed young person needs comfort and reassurance which may include physical comforting such as a caring parent would give. A young person may also want to mark a success or achievement with a hug or other gesture. Adults should use their discretion in such cases to ensure that what is (and what is seen by others present) normal and natural does not become unnecessary and unjustified contact, particularly with the same young person over a period of time. Contact that an adult may feel is appropriate may be unwanted or uncomfortable to a young person. Adults should always meet the needs of the child, be age appropriate and respect resistance. 

Where do specific sports science and medical roles fit in? 

There may be some roles within sport or physical activities where physical contact is a requirement of the role, particularly sports science or medicine. These tasks should only be undertaken by properly trained or qualified practitioners. This guidance does not seek to replace the specific guidance and codes of practice developed for those professionals and reference should be made to the appropriate body for that discipline.

Bullying 

What is Bullying? 

Bullying is defined by the Department of Education and Skills guidelines as unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical, conducted by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time. 

All forms of bullying will be addressed. 

Everybody in the club/organisation has a responsibility to work together to stop bullying. 

Bullying can include online as well as offline behaviour. 

Bullying can include: 

  • Physical pushing, kicking, hitting, pinching etc… 
  • Name calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, persistent teasing and emotional torment through ridicule, humiliation or the continual ignoring of individuals. 
  • Posting of derogatory or abusive comments, videos or images on social network sites. 
  • Racial taunts, graffiti, gestures, sectarianism, sexual comments, suggestions or behaviour. 
  • Unwanted physical contact. 

Children with a disability, from ethnic minorities, young people who are gay or lesbian, or those with learning difficulties are more vulnerable to this form of abuse and are more likely to be targeted. 

The club or organisation will: 

  • Recognise its duty of care and responsibility to safeguard all participants from harm. 
  • Promote and implement this anti-bullying policy in addition to our safeguarding policy and procedures. 
  • Seek to ensure that bullying behaviour is not accepted or condoned. 
  • Require all members of the club/organisation to be given information about, and sign up to, this policy. 
  • Take action to investigate and respond to any alleged incidents of bullying. 
  • Encourage and facilitate children and young people to play an active part in developing and adopting a code of conduct to address bullying. 
  • Ensure that coaches are given access to information, guidance and/or training on bullying. 

Each participant, coach, volunteer or official will: 

  • Respect every child’s need for, and rights to, a play environment where safety, security, praise, recognition and opportunity for taking responsibility are available. 
  • Respect the feelings and views of others. 
  • Recognise that everyone is important and that our differences make each of us special and should be valued. 
  • Show appreciation of others by acknowledging individual qualities, contributions and progress. 
  • Be committed to the early identification of bullying, and prompt and collective action to deal with it. 
  • Ensure safety by having rules and practices carefully explained and displayed for all to see. 
  • Report incidents of bullying they see to the club children’s officer – by doing nothing you are condoning bullying. 

Support to the child: 

  • Children should know who will listen to and support them. 
  • Systems should be established to open the door to children wishing to talk about bullying or any other issue that affects them. 
  • Potential barriers to talking (including those associated with a child’s disability or impairment) need to be identified and addressed at the outset to enable children to approach adults for help. 
  • Children should have access to Helpline numbers. 
  • Anyone who reports an incident of bullying will be listened to carefully and be supported. 
  • Any reported incident of bullying will be investigated objectively and will involve listening carefully to all those involved. 
  • Children being bullied will be supported and assistance given to uphold their right to play and live in a safe environment which allows their healthy development. 
  • Those who bully will be supported and encouraged to stop bullying. 
  • Sanctions for those bullying others that involves long periods of isolation, or which diminish and make individuals look or feel foolish in front of others, will be avoided.

Support to the parents/guardians: 

  • Parents/guardians should be advised on the organisation/ club’s bullying policy and practice. 
  • Any incident of bullying will be discussed with the child’s parent(s)/carers. 
  • Parents will be consulted on action to be taken (for both victim and bully) and agreements made as to what action should be taken. 
  • Information and advice on coping with bullying will be made available. 
  • Support should be offered to the parent(s) including information on other agencies or support lines. 

Useful Contacts: 

NSPCC Helpline: 0808 800 5000 

ChildLine UK: 0800 11 11 / www.childline.org.uk 

Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum: www.niabf.org.uk 

Kidscape: www.kidscape.org.uk 

Anti-Bullying Alliance: www.antibullyingalliance.org 

Facilities 

Introduction 

Clubs, facilities and those with responsibility for children and young people have a general duty of care towards them. However there are no specific legal requirements regarding the use of changing facilities. This document is therefore intended as practice guidance to support individuals and organisations to consider issues relevant to their particular context; and to develop and implement policies and procedures that provide a safe environment for children and young people. 

Facility Policy 

This guidance may assist in the review and updating of existing policies and procedures to support improvements in safeguarding and to develop a safer environment. The following aspects should be taken into account when accessing facilities:

  • Type of Facility. 
  • Adults using the changing rooms at the same time as children. 
  • Supervision. 
  • Who should supervise? 
  • Parents as Supervisors. 
  • Unsupervised children in sport or leisure facilities. 
  • Parents’ (or carers’) responsibilities. 
  • Facility Operators Responsibilities. 
  • Mixed Gender Teams

Supervision in the changing facility may also be necessary when: 

  • Children are too young to be left alone or change themselves. Organisers of groups of children under eight years should make arrangements for their supervision while changing before and after the activity. Although most children of school age (four years old) may be capable of changing their clothes, many leisure facilities have established guidelines that any child below the age of eight years must be accompanied. 
  • The group includes disabled children who require additional support and assistance with changing (note this should be undertaken by prior agreement with their parent or professional carer) 
  • Children could injure themselves or access a potential risk in a club that is unattended 
  • There are concerns about bullying, fighting or other troublesome behaviours taking place which need to be managed. 

Who should supervise? 

If the club have decided that the children and young people need supervision, staff/volunteers should consider who will carry this out. This task provides access to children in circumstances of increased vulnerability and therefore careful consideration should be given to ensuring that those undertaking this task have been assessed as being suitable to do so. 

  • Numbers – organisers are recommended to have more than one adult supervising, as this will ensure cover in the event of an accident or incident occurring or if one supervisor is called away. 
  • Gender – it is considered good practice to ensure that children are supervised by staff/volunteers of the same gender while changing. 
  • Timings – by agreeing a very clear timetable for use of the changing facilities by children, the supervising adults and any coaches or officials respectively, the risks associated to any extended contact between the adults and children are minimised. 
  • Carry out safe recruitment practices. 

Facility Operators Responsibilities: 

When children are given access to facilities, operators assume a duty of care for them. The level of responsibility will vary depending on: 

  • If the child is alone and unsupervised 
  • With parent/ carer/s. 
  • Attending an activity. 
  • Attending an activity staffed by the facility. 
  • Attending a school group or club. 
  • Attending a public session. 

Operators have a responsibility to put in place appropriate safeguarding arrangements which include promoting and implementing a policy for admitting unaccompanied children. This information should be provided to parents and other users informing them about the facility’s policy regarding unaccompanied children using the facility, and any rules about the supervision of young children within the facility (particularly in changing/ shower areas where potential safeguarding risks are increased).

Many facilities currently use the age of eight as a guide. In practice, while facilities need to be able to establish a lower threshold for admission that is practical to operate, identifying an age for this purpose is difficult given variations in children’s physical, psychological and emotional development. 

While the facility may set the lower age limit, it is for parents (who know most about their children and have primary responsibility for their welfare) to judge if their child needs to be accompanied even if older than this limit.

Tennis Coaches 

Tennis Coaches play a vital role in children’s tennis. Tennis Ireland, the Branches, the Clubs and other Stakeholders, should ensure that the work of Coaches, is guided by this safeguarding guidance and best practice whist also recognising that they are entitled to obtain a healthy sense of achievement and satisfaction through their involvement in children’s tennis. 

It is strongly recommended that all our stakeholders use Tennis Ireland Licensed Coaches only.

October 2020