Yorkshire Subterranean Society
Child Protection Policy Statement
YSS has a duty of care to safeguard all children involved with the club 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.
YSS will ensure the safety and protection of all children involved with the club through adherence to the Child Protection guidelines adopted by the YSS.
A child is defined as a person under the age of 18 (The Children Act 1989).
The aim of the YSS Child Protection Policy is to promote good practice:
· Providing children and young people with appropriate safety and protection whilst in the care of YSS.
· Allow all members to make informed and confident responses to specific child protection issues.
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. A coach, instructor, teacher, official or volunteer 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.
Good practice guidelines
All members should be encouraged to demonstrate exemplary behaviour in order to protect themselves from false allegations. The following are common sense examples of how to create a positive culture and climate.
Good practice means:
· Always working in an open environment avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication.
· Treating all young people/disabled adults equally with respect and dignity.
· Always putting the welfare of each young person first.
· Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance with a child (eg it is not appropriate for members to have an intimate relationship with a child or to share a room with them).
· Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust and empowering children to share in decision making.
· Making caving, enjoyable and promoting learning skills.
· Ensuring that if any form of manual/physical support is required, it should be provided openly. If it is difficult to maintain hand positions when the child is constantly moving, young people should always be consulted and their agreement gained. Some parents are becoming increasingly sensitive about manual support and their views should always be carefully considered.
· Involving parents/carers wherever possible.
· Ensuring that if mixed groups are taken away for the day or night, they should always be accompanied by there own male or female member of staff. However, remember that same gender abuse can also occur.
· Ensuring that at residential events, adults should not enter children's rooms or invite children into their rooms. Both male a female children should not share the same room
· 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 members are required to transport young people in their cars.
Practices to be avoided
The following should be avoided except in emergencies. If a case arises where these situations are unavoidable (eg the 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), it should be with the full knowledge and consent of someone in charge in the club or the child's parents.
· Spending time alone with children away from others.
· Taking or dropping off a child to an event on a one to one basis
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.
· Allow allegations made by a child to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon.
· 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 in your room unsupervised.
NB It may sometimes be necessary for members 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 child 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 another colleague and record the incident. You should also ensure the parents of the child are informed:
· if you accidentally hurt a child
· If he/she seems distressed in any manner
· If a child misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done.
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 people in vulnerable positions. All clubs should be vigilant and any concerns should to be reported to the Child Protection Officer.
Video as a coaching aid: there is no intention to prevent club members using video equipment as a legitimate coaching aid. However, performers and their parents/carers should be made aware that this is part of the programme and such films should be stored safely.
Responding to allegations or suspicions
It is not the responsibility of any member of the club to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities.
The YSS will assure all members that it will fully support and protect anyone who in good faith reports his/her concern that a colleague is, or may be, abusing a child.
Where there is a complaint against a member there may be three types of investigation:
· a criminal investigation
· a child protection investigation
· a misconduct investigation.
Action if there are concerns
· Any suspicion that a child has been abused should be reported to the YSS committee 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 YSS committee 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 YSS committee will deal with any media enquiries
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 YSS committee
· The parents of the person who is alleged to have been abused
· The person making the allegation.
· Social services/police.
· 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).
Internal Enquiries and Suspension
· The YSS committee may 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 YSS committee will assess all individual cases to decide whether a member can be reinstated and 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 YSS 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 may need.
· 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 staff who is still currently working with children).
Where such an allegation is made, the YSS committee will 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 the sphere of activity, 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 provisions of the Protection of Children Act 1999.
Action if bullying is suspected
If bullying is suspected, the same procedure should be followed as set out in 'Responding to suspicions or allegations' above.
Action to help the victim and prevent bullying:
· Take all signs of bullying very seriously.
· Encourage all children to speak and share their concerns. Help the victim to speak out and tell the person in charge or someone in authority. Create an open environment.
· Investigate all allegations and take action to ensure the victim is safe. Speak with the victim and the bully (ies) separately.
· Reassure the victim that you can be trusted and will help them, although you cannot promise to tell no one else.
· Keep records of what is said (what happened, by whom, when).
· Report any concerns to the YSS committee.
Action towards the bully (ies):
· Talk with the bully (ies), explain the situation, and try to get the bully (ies) to understand the consequences of their behaviour. Seek an apology to the victim(s).
· Inform the bully's parents.
· Insist on the return of 'borrowed' items and that the bully (ies) compensates the victim.
· Impose sanctions as necessary.
· Encourage and support the bully (ies) to change behaviour.
· Inform all organisation members of action taken.
· Keep a written record of action taken.
· Most 'low level' incidents will be dealt with at the time by members. However, if the bullying is severe (e.g. a serious assault), or if it persists despite efforts to deal with it, incidents should be referred to the YSS committee in "responding to suspicions or allegations" above.
Concerns outside the immediate environment (e.g. a parent or carer):
· Report your concerns to the YSS committee, who should contact social services or the police as soon as possible.
· Social Services will decide how to involve the parents/carers.
· Maintain confidentiality on a need to know basis only.
Information for social services or the police about suspected abuse
To ensure that this information is as helpful as possible, a detailed record should always be made at the time of the disclosure/concern, which 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 are worried about sharing concerns about abuse with a senior colleague, you can contact social services or the police direct, or the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline on 0808 800 5000, or Childline on 0800 1111.
On behalf of the YSS, we, the undersigned, will oversee the implementation of the Child Protection Policy and take all necessary steps to ensure it is adhered to.
Position within the YSS:
Position within the YSS:
This policy is adopted and adapted with the kind permission from the sample policy provided by the NSPCC (Child Protection in Sport Unit).