Ongar Netball Club Safeguarding Policy
All adults working at Ongar Netball Club should be aware of their responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of every player, both physical and emotional, inside and outside the club. This involves ensuring that players are protected from significant physical and emotional harm and that players continue to grow and thrive. All coaches, parents and volunteers should be aware of and when necessary follow the clubs child protection guidelines which are in line with England Netball safeguarding children procedures and practices.
In line with every child matters Ongar netball club wants all players to be healthy, enjoy their lives, be safe, and make a positive contribution to society.
This policy aims to:
Provide clear direction to coaches and others about expected codes of behavior in dealing with Child Protection and Safeguarding issues.
Ensure that Child Protection concerns and referrals are handled sensitively, professionally and in ways that support the needs of the child.
Ensure that parents are aware of our policies and procedures.
Make clear our commitment to the development of good practice and sound procedures.
The Ongar Netball Club must provide a safe environment for players to develop, grow in ability and confidence; to promote satisfactory development and growth by providing intellectual, emotional and physical challenge through the development of a fair and clear coaching strategy, that is aware of the welfare and safeguarding of the players. The club aims to create an environment within which players feel comfortable and know how to discuss such matters within a culture of strong pastoral support.
The club is also bound to take reasonable measures to safeguard the emotional welfare of its players from bullying or abuse within the club.
Child Protection Officer (CPO)
The designated safeguarding officer is Helen Mitchell. She has responsibility for dealing with child protection issues and liaising with other agencies where necessary. The CPO is required to undergo refresher training in inter-agency working to standards set by England Netball every two years.
Liaise (with due regard to issues of confidentiality) with the Child protection officers re: allegations of child abuse. Be responsible for the oversight of procedures relating to liaison with England Netball, Epping council Children and Young People Department and the Police in relation to any allegations of child abuse made against the coaches, including possible involvement in multi-agency strategy discussions.
Be familiar with the provisions of “Working Together to safeguard Children” “safeguarding and protecting children: a guide for sports people” and local protection procedures.
Definition of Abuse
Abuse can be defined as having occurred when a child has suffered significant harm or impairment of health and development by reason of physical violence, sexual interference, emotional pressure or neglect. Additionally, there are some miscellaneous categories of abuse, such as exposure to child pornography, racial or religious harassment or that occurring as a result of parental incapacity, for example due to mental illness or an addiction.
In line with Working Together to Safeguard Children (2010):
Physical Abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning or 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.
Sexual Abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (eg rape) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing etc. They may also include non-contact activities such as involving children looking at sexual images or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet).
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs likely to result in the impairment of the child’s health and development. Neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to provide food, clothing, shelter; failing to protect a child from physical or emotional harm; failing to provide adequate supervision or failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
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 inadequate; not giving the child opportunities to express themselves; making fun of what they say; causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger; seeing or hearing the ill- treatment of another; and serious bullying, including cyber-bullying. Some level of Emotional Abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, but may also occur on its own.
Procedure in the event of a report or suspicion of abuse
Any adult who has suspicions about a mark, has a disclosure made to them by a player or who is concerned about a players well being, must report the information immediately to the CPO. In the event of an allegation against the CPO, the information should be reported directly to the Head coach.
The CPO may, if necessary, interview the player to clarify the nature of an allegation or suspicion, before deciding on an appropriate course of action. If necessary, an immediate referral will be made to the local social services department rather than carrying out an investigation.
Allegations against coaches, volunteers and umpires
Allegations against a coaches, volunteer or umpires must be reported immediately to the CPO. An allegation of abuse by a coach, volunteer or umpire will be taken very seriously and treated in accordance with England Netball and Epping council child protection procedures. The quick, consistent and fair resolution of the allegation will be made a clear priority for the benefit of all concerned. Unless the allegation is demonstrably false, the Epping Safeguarding Team will be contacted directly as soon as possible. Under no circumstances will the coaches conduct their own investigation before an agreement is reached with the Epping Safeguarding Team. In case of serious harm, the police should be informed from the outset. Sensible precautions will be taken to prevent false allegations being made.
Where child protection concerns involve a coach these will be thoroughly investigated by the relevant agencies. Pending a full investigation, the member of staff may be suspended from duty although in no way is this an admission of impropriety.
The Law and Child Protection
The legislation relating to child protection is contained in The Children Act 1989, The Care Standards Act 2000, The Education Act 2002 and The Children Act 2004. In addition, the Government’s guidance, “Working Together to Safeguard Children”, issued in March 2010 imposes statutory duties on all those involved with working with children.
General Guidance for coaches, umpires, volunteers.
- Coaches should familiarise themselves with the Clubs Child Protection Policy.
- Child abuse to be reported includes abuse at home which a player reports to coaches, abuse by a stranger outside of the club, and abuse of one player by another player.
- Any member of coach, volunteer or umpire who is told of any incident or strong suspicion of physical or sexual child abuse of a player at home or outside the Club (or who knows of or suspects such abuse) must report the information immediately to the CPO.
- If the allegation is about the CPO, the report should be made to the Head Coach.
- Coaches are asked not to investigate in detail reports of physical or sexual abuse themselves. Questioning should always be limited to the minimum necessary to seek clarification only, strictly avoiding “leading” the player or making suggestions that introduces your own ideas about what may have happened. (The reason for this requirement is that in the event of any legal action subsequently, the whole matter may be prejudiced by such questioning, which may confuse the law of evidence.). Further interviewing or investigation will be carried out by specially trained adults only, following procedures agreed between (amongst others) the local authority and Police in line with Government requirements.
- Coaches should never give absolute guarantees of confidentiality to anyone raising complaints about abuse but may point out that they will pass on information to only a minimum number of people who have to be told to ensure that proper action is taken to sort the problem out.
- A written record should be made as soon as possible – ideally at the time of the disclosure and a copy given to the CPO.
- Coaches should be aware that the Head coach will, if necessary, suspend from duty, pending investigation, any coach who is alleged to have abused a player or players. Current advice encourages clubs to suspend, without pre-judgement of guilt, and as a precautionary measure, where there is a concern about possible abuse.
- The Club is also required to refer all allegations to the local Social Services Department. This referral must happen within 24 hours (in writing or with written confirmation of a telephone referral).
- If in doubt, consult the CPO.
Responding to Allegations of Abuse
Listen to the child
Children who report to a coach or other adult that someone has abused them must be listened to and heard, whatever form the communication may take.
- The following points give guidance on how to deal with a child who makes an allegation:
- Listen to the child, but do not conduct an interview or ask the child to repeat the account. Avoid asking questions and make sure that any questions asked are open- ended (i.e. not inviting yes or no as an answer).
- Do not interrupt when the child is recalling significant events.
- Make a careful note of all information, including details such as timing, setting, who was present and what was said, in the child’s own words. The account should be obtained verbatim or as near as possible. Always record what was said at the time. Notes written up afterwards will carry less weight than those made at the time.
- Take care not to make assumptions about what the child is saying or to make interpretations.
- On no account should you make suggestions to the child as to an alternative explanation for their worries.
- Coaches should point out to the child that the information may be passed to the CPO and that action will be taken as a result of the allegation.
- The written record of the allegations should be signed and dated by the person who received them as soon as is practicable.
- All actions subsequently taken should be recorded.
- The disclosure should be reported to the CPO as soon as possible, and certainly within 24 hours.
Remember, no coach should promise confidentiality to a player who makes an allegation. In responding to a child who makes such disclosures, account should be taken of the age and understanding of the child and whether the child or others may be at risk of significant harm.
While acknowledging the need to create an environment conducive to speaking freely, the coach should make it clear to any player asking for confidentiality that he or she will need to pass on what has been told, to ensure the protection of the child concerned. Within that context, the child should then be assured that the matter will be disclosed only to people who need to know, and the child will know who these people are.
The coach who has listened to the allegations of abuse should report immediately to the CPO, who will make an urgent initial assessment. If the CPO is the person against whom the allegation is made, the member of coach should report to the Head coach. The support needs of a child who expresses concerns about significant harm should be considered and met, utilising resources within or beyond the club as necessary.
Immediately an allegation is made, the CPO will:
- obtain written details of the allegation, signed and dated, from the person who received the allegation.
- record any information about times, dates, locations and names of potential witnesses. where appropriate, talk to the child concerned.
- make recommendations about further action to the head Coach, unless the allegation is against them.
There are four possible outcomes of the initial assessment:
- where the player has suffered, is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm, the incident will be referred immediately under England netball and local child protection procedures established by the HSCB.
- where the child has alleged that a criminal offence has been committed, then again this will be referred under England netball and local child protection procedures and the police may carry out a criminal investigation.
- the allegation may represent inappropriate behaviour or poor practice by a coach (which does not fall within the above categories) that needs to be considered under the clubs disciplinary procedures
- the allegation is adjudged to be apparently without foundation.
Only if the allegation is trivial or demonstrably false, will further investigations not be warranted.
Where the initial assessment by the CPO (or, where the allegation is against the CPO, the Head coach) concludes that the allegation warrants investigation, there will be a referral within 24 hours to one or more of the agencies with statutory responsibilities to make enquiries.
If a referral needs to be made, parents will be consulted. In really extreme cases the law allows clubs to by-pass parental consent.