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  • Phone: +44 (0) 28 3752 2248

Our Club Child Welfare Policy

The IRFU is committed to the enjoyment of rugby by young people. It values and encourages the participation of parents, guardians, teachers, “Sports Leaders” and volunteers in the participation of young people in rugby activities. The fundamental policy of the IRFU is to respect the dignity and rights of each individual Age Grade Player. The IRFU will strive throughout its organisation and spheres of influence to promote create and maintain safe environments for Age Grade Players. The IRFU expects those involved with age grade rugby to publicise, adapt and supervise the implementation of the following code. The IRFU has committed itself to monitoring and enforcing this code where reasonably possible.

Always have appropriate adult/child ratios.

Age grade players should be encouraged to wear protective gear.

Avoid situations where you are alone with an individual child, either at the Club or while transporting.

Avoid taking players to your home.

NEVER

Engage in physical horseplay or any form of inappropriate touching.

Use sexualised language or allow a child to use inappropriate language without being challenged.

Do anything of a personal nature for a child that they are capable of doing for themselves.

City of Armagh R.F.C have identified appropriate gateway teams and out of hours contact for Statutory Child Care Services and Medical intervention.

  • Armagh Social Services - 028 3741 5285
  • Social Services Out-of-Hours - 028 3833 4444
  • Police - Armagh PSNI - 101
  • Mullinure Hospital - 028 3752 2381
  • GP Out-of-Hours - 028 9504 9999
  • Emergency - 999

Every Coach, while training or during matches, shall have available a First Aid Kit, mobile phone and, where possible, a medically trained volunteer. Coaches should be aware how to access professional medical help, if needed.

Coaches should have access to emergency contact numbers for parents/guardians at all times and a parent should be contacted as soon as possible re an injury or incident. P1 / P2 parents should remain during training.

A responsible adult shall complete an accident/incident report as soon as is reasonably possible and forward it to the Club’s Welfare Officer.

The Club’s Welfare Officer shall follow the appropriate procedures and make what inquiries they feel suitable having received such information. Parents should be kept informed of the process on a regular basis.

The Club’s Welfare Officer shall also inform the Club Committee and Branch Welfare Officer as and when appropriate.

A recording form should be used to note what action was taken and when. For example:

  • 8.20pm Contacted Mrs Smith
  • 8.30pm Ambulance arrived

In case of emergencies, there should be a minimum of 2 adults with age grade players at all times.

A membership form can be used to note parents’ contact numbers, permission to administer medication and notes of all medical history relevant to the player. Prior to training or matches, Coaches should check if there is any physical or medical reason which might effect the age grade player. New IRFU registration forms to be used.

Parents also have a responsibility to inform an appropriate Club official if they have any medical concerns regarding their child.

All Coaches should be working towards or have an appropriate qualification and be properly resourced and supported.

They should have subscribed to the IRFU Code of Conduct for Coaches of Age Grade Players.

Referees must follow IRFU rules.

No pitches, premises or equipment should be used if unsafe. Form at the end of this document.

Complaints or suspicions of abuse must be reported to the Branch Child Welfare Officer.

Player must be safeguarded immediately.

Club’s Welfare Officer should report to Statutory Authorities and Branch Welfare Officer.

Procedures for making, investigating and determining complaints re abuse (confidentially) should be written and published.

A Sports Leader, who has had a formal complaint made against them, must stand aside until an investigation is completed.

The Branch Welfare Officer must be informed of any allegation related to a leader or employee.

All leaders must commit to Best Practise. (Sports Council Code - www.dohc.ie/publications or www.volunteering-ni.org/inform/public)

Sports Leaders should participate in any education or training identified.

The Club should advise parents of the IRFU Guidelines i.e. irishrugby.ie.

The Club must keep records on players, employees and leaders and review procedure annually.

The Club will not promote, condone or use sports supplements, and take part in appropriate training.

The Club will aim to minimise stress or burnout and manage the detrimental effect of alcohol.

The IRFU guidelines regarding transport, ratios of adults should be followed. (See Sports Council Code Part 4 and www.accessni.gov.uk)

Transfers of Age Grade Players should be recorded.

Discipline of Age Grade Players should follow the Sports Council Code.

IRFU Good Practices on photographic, video and audio equipment should be followed.

Responsible and secure use of mobile phones should be followed.

The Club will undertake to vet all leaders, employees and officials in accordance with AccessNI and will inform the Branch Welfare Officer of any convictions relevant to Child Protection.

The Club will follow IRFU directions if any such offences are identified.

The objectives, roles and responsibilities of Branch and Club Child Welfare Officers are outlined in the IRFU Child Welfare Policy Document (page 16-18). (Copy available in the Clubhouse or on request from a Club Official.)

Our Club Child Welfare Policy - Codes of Conduct

City of Armagh R.F.C Committee have adopted the IRFU Codes of Conduct for players, coaches, parents, spectators and referees. These are included in the IRFU Child Welfare Policy Document (page 44-48). Copies are available in the Clubhouse or on request from a Club Official. It is the responsibility of those identified above to familiarise themselves with the relevant section.

City of Armagh R.F.C Committee are aware that rolling out these policies and procedures will take time and commitment. They are also aware that the subject matter can lead to anxieties. All those involved in Youth Rugby, who continue to act in the interests of the child and in good faith (while Child Welfare training takes place) are unlikely to be acting in any way that contravenes current policy or legislation.

Always have appropriate adult/child ratios.

Age grade players should be encouraged to wear protective gear.

Avoid situations where you are alone with an individual child, either at the Club or while transporting.

Avoid taking players to your home.

NEVER

Engage in physical horseplay or any form of inappropriate touching.

Use sexualised language or allow a child to use inappropriate language without being challenged.

Do anything of a personal nature for a child that they are capable of doing for themselves.

Ensure Age Grade Players know when they are allowed in the bar area of the Clubhouse.

Persons under 18 are not permitted to consume alcohol.

Bullying has become a significant issue for children and parents. Bullying may emerge as deliberately hurtful behaviour, usually repeated over a period of time, where it is difficult for those being bullied to defend themselves. It can be defined as ‘repeated, systematic, and aggressive verbal, psychological or physical conduct by an individual or group against another child or youth’.

It can take many forms including children being bullied by adults, and in some cases by members of their families. It can occur that the perpetrator may be a child or youth in the case of bullying. Bullying can be difficult to identify because it often happens away from others and those who are bullied often do not tell anyone. Although anyone can be the target of bullying, children that are typically shy, sensitive and perhaps anxious or insecure are often the victims. Sometimes they may be singled out for physical reasons – being overweight, physically small, having a disability or belonging to a different race, faith or culture.

The competitive nature of the sport of rugby can make it an ideal environment for the bully. The bully can be a parent who pushes too hard, a coach who adopts a ‘win-at-all-costs’ philosophy, a player who intimidates inappropriately, a club official who places unfair pressure on a person, or a spectator who shouts abuse.

Examples of Bullying in a Sport Environment

  1. Physical – e.g. theft, hitting, kicking - in some cases, this might constitute a criminal offense;
  2. Verbal – e.g. racist or homophobic taunts, threats, graffiti, gestures, spreading rumours, teasing, threats or name-calling,
  3. Emotional – e.g. tormenting, ridiculing, humiliating and ignoring a child, isolating a child during a group activity or discouraging social acceptance of a child’s teammates / peer group.
  4. Sexual – e.g. unwanted physical contact or abusive/suggestive comments

Signs which may raise concerns about bullying include changes such as:

  • reduced concentration or becoming withdrawn;
  • hesitation or reluctance to attend training sessions or games;
  • often last one picked for a team or group activity for no apparent reason, or being picked on when they think your back is turned;
  • reluctance to go to certain places or work with a certain individual;
  • clothing or personal possessions go missing or get damaged;
  • bruising or other injuries;
  • ‘losing’ pocket money repeatedly;
  • becoming nervous and withdrawn; or
  • suddenly prone to lashing out at people, either physically or verbally, when normally quiet

GUIDELINES FOR MANAGING BULLYING and HARASSMENT REGARDING CHILDREN

The damage inflicted by bullying/harassment can frequently be underestimated. It can cause considerable distress to a child to the extent that it affects their health and development.

There are a number of good practices which can be followed in cases involving bullying of children and youth:

Actions to help the victim(s) and prevent bullying/harassment:

  • Take all allegations of bullying/harassment seriously and take action to ensure the victim(s) are safe. Speak with the victim and the bully separately.
  • Encourage all children to speak and share their concerns. Help the victim(s) to speak out and inform the person in charge or someone in authority. Create an open and safe environment;
  • Reassure the victim(s) that you can be trusted and will help them, although you cannot promise not to tell others;
  • Keep records of what is said (i.e. what happened, by whom and when).
  • Report any serious or repeated incidents of bullying or harassment to the Child Welfare Officer and complete an Incident Report Form as soon as possible.

Action Towards the Bully/Harasser:

  • Talk with the bully/harasser, explain the situation and try to get the bully to understand the consequences of their behaviour;
  • Seek an apology from the bully/harasser to the victim(s);
  • Inform the bully's/harasser’s parents/guardians;
  • If appropriate, insist on the return of 'borrowed' items and that the bully compensates the victim;
  • Encourage and support the bully to change behaviour; and
  • Keep a written record of actions taken.

Harassment can take many forms but, generally, can be defined for the purposes of this CPP as continued comments, conduct or gestures directed towards a child which is, or is likely to be, construed as insulting, intimidating, humiliating, malicious, degrading or offensive, especially where the child or youth against whom the behaviour is directed has clearly requested the perpetrator(s) to cease, or where he or she by verbal or body language, has expressed distress or dismay at the behaviour in question.

Children and youth may experience harassment or negative discrimination because of their race or ethnic origin, socio-economic status, culture, age, disability, gender, sexuality or religious beliefs. This can have a very detrimental effect on a child. Children from minority ethnic groups or communities (and their parents) may have experienced harassment, racial discrimination, and institutional racism prior to engaging in the sport of rugby.

Although not formally recognized as a form of child abuse, racism can be emotionally harmfully to children. Some racist acts may also involve acts of physical violence towards individuals or groups.

All serious incidents of harassment or bullying will be reported to and dealt with by the Child Welfare Officer. See Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum Website – http://www.endbullying.org.uk

It takes considerable courage for a child to disclose abuse, bullying or harassment. Disclosures need to be handled very carefully and sensitively to avoid causing further distress to the child.

All concerns must be responded to in a way that ensures that a child receives appropriate help and support, to ensure that appropriate action is taken against those who pose a risk to children and to protect not only the child involved but all other children.

Clear and understandable procedures for responding to concerns will:

  • help to avoid those receiving information from engaging in judgments;
  • reassure those who report concerns that an appropriate course of action will ensue;
  • support those charged with managing concerns by providing them with a step-by-step process to follow; and
  • safeguard the rights of those against whom complaints or allegations have been made.

Concerns NOT Involving Child Abuse

City of Armagh RFC is committed to working in partnership with parents whenever there are concerns about a child or youth.

Parents have the primary responsibility for the safety and well being of their children.

In most situations, not involving the possibility of the abuse of a child, concerns should be discussed with parents. For example, if a child seems withdrawn, he/she may have experienced an upset in the family, such as a parental separation, divorce or bereavement. Common sense is advised is these situations.

Any significant, improper or unusual incidents which cause concern about the welfare of a child should be reported to the Child Welfare Officer as soon as possible. Parents should also be informed of the circumstances as soon as possible.

Information provided to City of Armagh R.F.C should remain confidential unless permission has been given to share the information by the individual concerned or the safety of that person or another person may be at risk.

If there is a reasonable concern that a child or youth may be at risk of significant harm, this will always override a professional or organizational requirement to keep information confidential.

It is good practice to inform parents and children about the kind of situations which may lead to them having to share information with other agencies, such as:

  • when criminal conduct may be involved;
  • when it is believed necessary to protect others from harassment or bullying;
  • in the course of an investigation by a law enforcement agency; or
  • when required by law.

Concerned adults are sometimes reluctant to report concerns about abuse for fear that the person suspected will sue them for defamation if the allegation turns out to be unfounded.

To be defamatory a statement must first of all be untrue. Even if subsequently shown to be untrue, the statement will be protected if it is made to the appropriate authority in response to a duty, whether legal, moral or social or in the protection of an interest. Unjustified repetition of the allegations to other persons will not be protected by privilege.

The aim of these guidelines is to not to prevent bona fide persons from recording activities for performance development reasons or the recording of achievements. They aspire to ensure that children are protected from the misuse of opportunities to take or manipulate film and video footage in a way that harms children or places them at risk of harm.

Some rugby fixtures take place in areas where club members and volunteers have little or no control over the environment; such as training/playing fields in areas to which the public have general rights of access. In these circumstances, club members and volunteers should take all reasonable steps to promote the safe use of photographing and filming and to respond to any concerns raised.

Notification

Parents and children will be informed they may, from time to time, be photographed or filmed while participating in rugby. This could be for one of the following reasons:

  1. Video footage for performance development.
  2. Media coverage of an event or achievement.
  3. Promotional purposes e.g. website or publication.
Permission

Parents will be offered the opportunity to withhold their permission to photographing and filming. In the absence of any expressed objection, parental agreement will be assumed.

Use of Images and Information
  • No photographing or filming will be permitted in changing areas.
  • City of Armagh RFC will ensure that all negatives, copies of videos and digital photograph files in its possession are stored in a secure place. These will not be kept for any longer than is necessary having regard to the purposes for which they were taken.
Concerns
  • Anyone behaving in a way which could reasonably be construed as inappropriate in relation to filming or photographing, should be reported to the person in charge of the event/activity. They should be approached for an explanation. If a satisfactory explanation is not provided, the circumstances should be reported to the person in charge of the event/activity, or the Child Welfare Officer.
  • Where appropriate, concerns should also be reported to the police.

INTERNET

Permission
  • Written consent must be obtained from the child’s parent before publishing any information about a child. If the material is changed from the time of consent, the parents must be informed and consent provided for the changes.
  • Special care must be taken in relation to vulnerable children e.g. child fleeing domestic violence or a child with a disability, and consideration given to whether publication would place the child at risk.
  • Young athletes who have a public profile as a result of their achievements are entitled to the same protection as all other children. In these cases, common-sense is required when implementing these guidelines. All decisions should reflect the best interests of the child.

MOBILE PHONES

Text messaging is a quick and easy way to communicate with others and is a popular and often preferred means of communication with children. Club members and volunteers must be aware that intimidating, bullying or even abusive messages can be discreetly sent by text. Information sent in this way, even where well-meaning, could be misinterpreted.

Text Messaging

Club members / volunteers must consider whether it is necessary and appropriate to hold the mobile phone numbers of children. The general principle is that all communications with children should be open, transparent and appropriate to the nature of the relationship.

The following good practice is also required:

  • the mobile phone numbers of children will be carefully stored and access will only be provided to those who need access for a legitimate reason.
  • club members / volunteers must never engage in personal or sensitive communications with children via text message.
  • all concerns about the inappropriate use of text messaging should be reported to the Child Welfare Officer.
Mobile Phones with Camera / Video Capability

There have already been a number of cases where children have been placed at risk as a result of the ability to discreetly record and transit images through mobile phones. The use of mobile phones in this way can be very difficult to monitor. The procedure for the use of photographs, film and video should be observed in relation to the use of mobile phones as cameras / videos. Particular care is required in areas where personal privacy is important [e.g. changing rooms, bathrooms and sleeping quarters]. No photographs or video footage should ever be permitted in such areas of personal privacy.

All concerns about the inappropriate use of mobile phones to record photographs or video footage should be reported to the Child Welfare Officer, and will be dealt with accordingly. This may include the concerns being reported to the police.

These guidelines have been included to provide practical guidance for those coaching and/or volunteering directly with children on practices to keep the child safe and to promote a safe training and playing environment for the club member or volunteer. All members of Armagh R.F.C are strongly recommended to be aware of and employ these guidelines.

All rugby organizations have a duty and standard of care towards all children involved in its activities.

Children under the age of 16 years should not be placed in positions of responsibility in relation to other children. Common sense should be applied when considering the circumstances of older children, and all children should have the opportunity to express their views on matters which affect them, should they wish to do so.

As children’s rugby takes place in many different locations, environments and formats, it is impossible to provide specific guidance on many of the issues covered. The following guidelines are therefore based on generally recognized good practice and common sense. Ultimately, most practical situations will require a judgment to be made about what is practicable and reasonable in the circumstances.

Recommended Adult-To-Child Ratios in Children’s Rugby

In general practice, the average ratio of adult-to-child is:

Age: 4 and over 1:8

If all children are over 8 years of age then 1:10

All activities should be planned to involve at least two adults, (preferably one male and one female). As a general guide, the following factors will also be taken in to consideration in deciding how many adults are required to safely supervise children:

  • The number of children involved in the activity.
  • The age, maturity and experience of the children.
  • Whether any of the coaches or children has a learning or physical disability or special needs and requirements.
  • Whether any of the children have challenging behaviour.
  • The particular hazards associated with the activity.
  • The particular hazards associated with the environment.
  • The level of qualification and experience of the coaches.
  • The program of activities.

Age Grade Players should be supervised at all times, though not intrusively ie gender appropriate adults remain available and yet privacy respected.

Facilities, including changing rooms, should be safe and clean. There should be separate changing rooms for boys and girls.

All pitches and equipment should be checked prior to use. Form available at the end of this document.

All Age Grade Players are to complete an appropriate Club Registration Form.

The Club should have appropriate fire precautions and relevant insurance in place.

An 'Accident Book' should be available for any circumstance to be recorded not relevant to Child Protection Procedures.

First Aid and Treatment of Injuries

All coaches/managers/administrators and volunteers must ensure:

  • There is an accessible and well-stocked first aid kit at the venue at all times. There should also be a mobile phone or telephone. There is a first aid kit in the Clubhouse.
  • Be aware of any pre-existing medical conditions, medicines being taken by participants or existing injuries and treatment required.
  • Only those with a current, recognized first aid qualification treat injuries. In more serious cases assistance should be obtained from a medically qualified professional as soon as possible.
  • An City of Armagh RFC Incident Report Form is completed if a child sustains a significant injury along with the details of any treatment given.
  • Where possible, access to medical advice and / or assistance is available,
  • A child’s parents are informed of any injury and action taken as soon as possible.
  • The circumstances in which any accidents occur are reviewed to avoid future repetitions.

First Aid training courses to be undertaken and updated regularly for all those involved with Age Grade Players.

Where it is necessary to transport children, the following good practice is required:

  • Where parents make arrangements for the transportation of children to and from an activity, without the knowledge of City of Armagh R.F.C , it will be the responsibility of the parents to satisfy themselves about the appropriateness and safety of the arrangements.

Where City of Armagh RFC makes arrangements for the transportation of children and youth, the club members and volunteers involved will ensure -

  • that all vehicles are correctly insured for the purpose.
  • the driver has a valid and appropriate license for the vehicle being used.
  • All reasonable safety measures are available i.e. fitted, working seatbelts.
  • An appropriate ratio of adults per child.
  • When transporting children, wherever possible they should be in the back seat of the car for health and safety reasons.
  • Where practicable and planned, written parental consent will be requested if club members or volunteers are required to transport children.

Trips Away From Home Involving Overnight Stays

Those in charge of the group will be responsible for the safety and well being of children in their care. It is recommended that one of the group leaders co-ordinates the arrangements to safeguard the safety and welfare of children during the trip.

The Coach/Leader should ensure all practical arrangements have been addressed and act as the main contact for dealing with any concerns about the safety and welfare of children while away from home. A detailed itinerary will be prepared and circulated to parents.

Guidance identified in the IRFU Child Welfare Policy Document P34-35.

Travel Arrangements

Organizers must ensure there is adequate and relevant insurance cover (including travel and medical insurance). If the trip involves travel out of the country. Organizers shall ensure they are aware of local procedures for dealing with concerns about the welfare of children and are familiar with the details of the emergency services, including hospitals, in the location of the visit.

Adult-to-Child Ratios

All trips away should be planned to involve at least two adults, preferably one male and one female where possible. The guidelines on adult to child ratios will inform an assessment of the numbers of adults required to safely supervise the group.

Accommodation - Exchange Visits / Hosting

Before departure, organizers should ensure there is a shared understanding of the standards expected during home stays between them, host organization / families, parents and children themselves. These standards should include arrangements for the supervision of children during the visit.

All instances of suspected, disclosed or witnessed abuse of a child, must be reported to the appropriate authorities and to the Club’s Child Welfare Officer. An Incident Form should also be completed as soon as possible after reporting the abuse.

Children may be in need of protection where their basic needs are not being met in a manner appropriate to their age and stage of development, and they will be at risk through avoidable acts of commission or omission on the part of their parent(s), sibling(s) or other relative(s), or a foster parent/guardian (i.e. a person, while not a parent, who has actual custody of the child).

This includes placing a child at risk through something a person has done to them, or something a person is failing to do for them. For those working in the field of child care and protection the definition of child abuse is reduced further into categories of abuse, namely;

  • Emotional Abuse
  • Physical Abuse and Injury
  • Neglect
  • Sexual Abuse.

These categories are not mutually exclusive. A child experiencing physical abuse is undoubtedly experiencing emotional abuse as well.

Identifying Child Abuse

Although the physical and behavioural signs listed may be symptomatic of abuse, they may not always be an indicator and, conversely, children experiencing abuse may not demonstrate any of these signs. Child abuse is often difficult to recognize.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse may be defined as a failure to provide for a child’s basic emotional needs such as to have a severe effect on the behaviour and development of the child. This includes persistent patters of demeaning or threatening a child. It may be intentional or not, and can be invisible or gradual.

This could include making a child feel worthless or unloved, inadequate or not valued; inappropriate expectations being imposed on children for their age or stage of development; the corruption or exploitation of a child, or causing them frequently to feel frightened or in danger; persistent exposure to domestic abuse; failing to provide a child with love, care and affection.

Emotional abuse in rugby may also occur if children are subjected to constant criticism, name-calling, sarcasm, or bullying.

Examples of Emotional Abuse in a Sport Environment

  • Persistent failure to show any respect to a child; This can consist of continually ignoring a child, giving the ‘silent treatment’, swearing at a child, etc;
  • Constantly blaming or humiliating a child by telling them they are stupid or ‘slow’, sometimes accompanied by persistent and demeaning correction;
  • Continually being aggressive towards a child by making them feel frightened, withholding of praise or using praise/affection as a control device;
  • Acting in a way which is detrimental to the child’s uniqueness and self-esteem;

Signs which may raise concerns about emotional abuse include:

  • low self-esteem - significant decline in concentration
  • running away - indiscriminate friendliness and neediness
  • extremes of passivity or aggression - self-harm or mutilation

Physical Abuse

Defined as an actual or attempted physical injury to a child, including the administration of toxic substances, where there is knowledge or reasonable suspicion, that the injury was knowingly inflicted or not prevented. It involves deliberately using force against a child in such a way that the child is either injured or is at risk of being injured.

Physical abuse includes deliberately hitting, shaking, throwing or otherwise harming a child. Physical injury may also occur where someone knowingly fails to take action to protect a child from physical harm. Most children sustain accidental cuts and bruises throughout childhood. These are likely to occur in parts of the body like elbows, shins and knees. An important indicator of physical abuse is where the bruises or injuries are unexplained or the explanation does not fit the injury, or the injury appears on parts of the body where accidental injuries are unlikely [e.g. on the cheeks or thighs].

The age of the child must also be considered. It is possible that some physical injuries may have occurred for other reasons [e.g. skin disorders, bone diseases].

Examples of Physical Abuse in a Sport Environment

Bodily harm that may be caused by:

  • the nature and intensity of training or competition exceeds the capacity of the child / youth’s immature and growing body;
  • over playing an athlete;
  • administering, condoning, or failure to intervene in drug use; or
  • administering drugs to enhance performance.

Signs which may raise concerns about physical abuse include:

  • refusal to discuss injuries
  • aggression towards others
  • improbable excuses given to explain injuries
  • fear of parents being approached for an explanation
  • running away
  • untreated injuries
  • excessive physical punishment
  • avoiding activities due to injuries or possibility of injuries being discovered - unexplained injuries, particularly if recurrent

Neglect

Neglect is a form of abuse manifested through ignoring or discrediting emotional and or physical needs. Neglect occurs where a child’s essential needs are not met and this is likely to cause impairment to the physical or emotional health and development of a child. Such needs include food and water, clothing, cleanliness, shelter and warmth.

Physical neglect can also comprise the poor practice of inadequate supervision.

Emotional neglect can consist of a lack of encouragement, praise, or direct listening to the child. It leaves no scars but can be emotionally devastating, leading to feelings of abandonment, confusion, low self-esteem and delayed emotional development.

A lack of appropriate care, including deprivation of access to health care, may result in persistent or severe exposure, through negligence, to circumstances which endanger the child.

As well as being the result of a deliberate act, neglect can also be caused through the omission or the failure to act or protect [e.g. the failure to obtain medical attention for a child].

Examples of Neglect in a Sport Environment

  • exposing a child to extreme weather conditions;
  • failing to seek medical attention for injuries;
  • aexposing a child to risk of injury through the use of unsafe equipment;
  • exposing a child to a hazardous environment.
  • failing to provide adequate water and water breaks; or
  • failure to properly supervise activities

Signs which may raise concerns about neglect include:

  • constant hunger/thirst;
  • poor personal hygiene and/or poor state of clothing;
  • constant tiredness;
  • frequent lateness or unexplained non-attendance at practices or games;
  • untreated medical problems
  • low self-esteem
  • poor peer relationships
  • stealing

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse of a child is an abuse of power and trust – it is manipulating or forcing a child to serve an adult for sexual purposes. A child may be deemed to have been sexually abused when any person(s), by design or neglect, exploits the child, directly or indirectly, in any activity intended to lead to the sexual arousal or other forms of gratification of that person or other person(s). This includes forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities whether or not they are aware of or consent to what is happening. Sexual abuse may involve physical contact, and non-contact acts such as forcing children to look at, or be involved in, the production of pornographic material, to watch sexual activities or encouraging them to behave in sexually inappropriate manners.

Boys and girls are sexually abused by males and females, including persons to whom they may or may not be related, and by other young people. This includes people from all walks of life within and outside the sports environment.

Some children may never be able to tell someone they have been sexually abused. Changes in a child’s behaviour may be a sign something has happened. In some cases there may be no physical or behavioural signs to suggest that a child has been sexually abused.

In sport, coaching techniques which involve physical contact with children and youth, could potentially create situations where sexual abuse may go unnoticed. The authority of the coach over children and youth, if misused, may also lead to abusive situations developing.

Examples of Sexual Abuse in a Sport Environment

  • exposure to sexually explicit inappropriate language or jokes;
  • showing a child pornographic material or using a child to produce such material;
  • inappropriate touching; or
  • sexual intercourse and/or sexual activity with a child as defined by law.

Signs which may raise concerns about sexual abuse include:

  • lack of trust in adults, or over familiarity with adults;
  • fear of a particular adult, or fear of an adult with whom a close relationship would normally be expected;
  • someone else expresses concerns about possible sexual abuse of a child;
  • social isolation – being withdrawn or introverted, poor peer relationships;
  • reluctance or refusal to participate in physical activity or to change clothes for games;
  • displays of sexual knowledge beyond the child’s age;
  • description by a child or youth, of what appears to be an act of a sexual nature involving him/her.

Allegations of abuse must always be taken seriously. False allegations are very rare. If a child says or indicates they are being abused or information is obtained which gives reason to believe that a child is being abused, the information must be reported on the same day, in line with the following procedures.

Where there is uncertainty about what to do with the information, URFU Branch Welfare Officer can first be consulted for advice on the appropriate course of action.

If unavailable or an immediate response is required the police and social work services must be consulted for advice.

These organizations have a statutory responsibility for the protection of children, and they may already hold other concerning information about the child. Record any advice provided by them.

IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE IMMEDIATE SAFETY OF A CHILD:

Take whatever action is required to ensure the child’s Immediate safety.

Pass the information immediately to the police and seek their advice.

Note: No member or volunteer of City of Armagh RFC shall investigate allegations of abuse, or decide whether or not a child has been abused. This is the responsibility of professional authorities and agencies entrusted with welfare and safety of children. It is however, everyone’s responsibility to immediately report their concerns.

RESPONDING

Good Practice

  • React calmly, so as not to frighten the child.
  • Listen to the child and take what they say seriously. Do not show scepticism.
  • Reassure the child they are not to blame and were right to tell someone.
  • Be aware of interpreting what a child says, especially if they have learning or physical disabilities which affect their ability to communicate or English is not their first language.
  • Do not assume that the experience was bad or painful - it may have been neutral or even pleasurable.
  • Avoid projecting your own reactions onto the child.

Avoid asking any questions. If necessary only ask enough questions to gain basic information to establish the possibility that abuse may have occurred. Only use open-ended, non-leading questions e.g. Who? Where? When?

Do not introduce personal information from either your own experiences or those of other children.

Avoid

  • Panicking;
  • Showing shock or distaste;
  • Probing for more information than is offered;
  • Speculating or making assumptions;
  • Making negative comments about the person against whom the allegation has been made;
  • Approaching the individual against whom the allegation has been made; or
  • Making promises or agreeing to keep secrets and giving a guarantee of confidentiality.

RECORDING

Make a written record of the information as soon as possible using the Incident Form, completing as much of the form as possible. The following information will help the Child Welfare Officer, Police and/or Social Services Agency decide what action to take next:

  • Child’s name, age and date of birth;
  • Child’s home address and telephone number;
  • Any times, dates or other relevant information concerning the incident;
  • Whether the person making the report is expressing their own concern or the concerns of another person;
  • The child’s account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any injuries occurred using the child’s own words;
  • The nature of the concern (include all of the information obtained during the initial account e.g. time, date, location);
  • A description of any visible (when normally dressed) injuries or bruising, behavioural signs, indirect signs (do not physically examine the child);
  • Details of any witnesses;
  • Whether the child’s parents have been informed;
  • Details of anyone else who has been consulted and the information obtained from them;
  • If it is not the child making the report, note whether the child has been spoken to, if so what was said using the child’s own words; and
  • The child’s views on the situation.

REPORTING

Report the allegation immediately to the relevant Statutory Authority, the Club’s Child Welfare Officer and forward a written account as soon as possible.

Parents/Guardians should be informed unless doing so would further endanger the child.

PROCEDURES FOR RESPONDING TO CONCERNS ABOUT THE CONDUCT OF A CLUB MEMBER OR VOLUNTEER

The following section details the procedures to be followed where the concern is about a club member or volunteer.

These procedures are to ensure that all concerns about the conduct of a club member or volunteer are dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner.

No member of City of Armagh RFC in receipt of information that causes concern about the conduct of a club member or volunteer towards children shall keep that information to himself or herself, or attempt to deal with the matter on their own.

In the event of an investigation in to the conduct of a club member or volunteer all actions will progress from:

  • The Club member or volunteer being made aware of the nature of concern or complaint relating to them;
  • Where the concern is about possible child abuse, advice will first be taken from the police, as to what can be said to the club member or volunteer;

In all cases where there are concerns about the conduct of a club member or volunteer towards children, the welfare of the child will be the paramount consideration.

At any point in the management of concerns about the conduct of a club member or volunteer, advice may be sought from the police or social work services.

RECORDING AND REPORTING

Concerns must be recorded using the Incident Form as soon as possible. Reporting the concerns should NOT be delayed by gathering information to complete the form, or until a written record has been made.

This is a working draft Document and is seen as a beginning to developing a complete and operational Child Welfare Policy. It is therefore vital that any suggestions/comments/ or requested clarifications are needed and welcomed.

The attached Pro-Formas may also need correction or development and any suggestions would also be gratefully received.

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