Netball NI's Child Protection Policy can be read in full here
Netball Northern Ireland is committed to a delivery of service that promotes good practice and protects children from harm. Members and staff within the Council accept and recognise the Council’s responsibilities to develop awareness of the issues that my cause children harm.
Our Child Protection Policy covers a wide range of child-centred service areas, which include:
• Regional Development Squad Activities and Programmes
• National Squad Activities and Programmes
• International Events, Activities and Programmes
• League and Competition Fixtures for all NNI Activities and Programmes
• Any other Council organised events that involve children
The Child Protection Policy is for all those deemed to be in regulated positions, Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (NI) Order 2003, for example those who work with children including full-time, part-time, casual staff, Coaches, Board Member, volunteers and external service providers. All will be subject to relevant recommended checks and child protection training.
‘For the purposes of this policy a child is defined as a person under 18’Aim of the policy
The policy aims to ensure compliance with the Children (Northern Ireland) Order (1995) and that all children participating in activities and programmes organised by the Council do so in as safe a manner as possible.
Objectives of the policy
This policy sets out to
(a) Clarify the Council’s responsibilities in respect of Child Protection.
(b) Outline why within the context of the Council’s activities and programmes Child Protection is important.
(c) Identify the specific steps the Council is taking in fulfillment of its responsibilities including
- In terms of employment procedures.
- Staff training.
- Guidance for its own staff and other organisations involved in council run activities and programmes.Background
The Children (Northern Ireland) Order (1995) came into force on 4th November 1996 and is based on a clear and consistent set of principles designed with the common aim of promoting the welfare of children. It reforms, consolidates and harmonises most of the public and private law relating to children, in a single coherent statutory framework.
The Order embodies 5 key principles:
• Paramountcy - in childcare law and practice, the welfare of the child is the overriding consideration in any decisions about him or her.
• Parental Responsibility – parents have responsibilities to their children, rather that rights over them. In some situations, ‘significant adults’ share this responsibility with one or both parents
• Prevention – this principle means preventing the separation of children from their families
• Partnership – the basis of this principle is that the most effective way of ensuring that a child’s needs are met is by working in partnership, especially with parents
• Protection - children should be safe, and should be protected by intervention if they are in danger
In practical terms, this means we have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for children and young people, in which their welfare is of paramount importance. It also means we need to inform and consult parents and carers about any decision affecting their child. Parents also have a responsibility to ensure that their children grow and develop in a safe environment.Policy Statement
The Council of Netball Northern Ireland confirms its commitment to good practice which protects children from harm. Staff and volunteers accept their responsibility to provide an environment which promotes the safety of the child at all times. Netball NI wish to ensure that this fundamental principle takes precedence over all other considerations.
In fulfillment of the responsibilities placed on it in terms of “Duty of Care” the council specifically undertakes to:
(a) Identify all those posts where staff are in regulated positions and are directly involved in working with children.
(b) Ensure that we adopt a child centered approach and democratic coaching styles.
(c) Adopt safeguarding guidelines through codes of conduct for members and all adults working within the organization, including Coaches, Adult and volunteers.
(d) Ensure that a Code of Conduct (See Appendix 1) is prepared for all staff/volunteers as part of their induction, setting out the priority the Council attaches to ensuring the safety of children making use of its activities and programmes.
(e) Create a culture of safety by raising staff/volunteer awareness about the issue of child protection and developing guidance on ‘whistle blowing’.
(f) Adopt the Code of Conduct set out in Appendix 1a as a guide to all staff in regulated positions working with young people. This will be communicated to staff through child protection training, circulation of information leaflets and at their induction.
(g) Advise staff of Disciplinary Procedures at induction, should they breach the Code of Conduct.
(h) Ensure the Council has Codes of behaviour in place for participants who take part in council led activities and programmes. (Appendix 1a-1c)
(i) Establishment of reporting procedures for concerns about a member of staff (Appendix 8) and concerns external to Netball Northern Ireland (Appendix 9).
(j) Establish procedures for recording child protection concerns (Appendix 8).
(k) Has procedures relating specifically to bullying and peer abuse (Appendix 3), transport and use of photography (Appendices 5, 6 & 7).
(l) Ensure that all children are treated equally
(m) Regularly review and monitor Safeguarding Procedures by the management committee ( every 3 year minimum)
(n) Appoint a Designated Officer(s) to whom staff & children can refer any concerns about suspected child abuse or related issues. This Officer is to liaise with relevant authorities if an investigation is required
(o) Ensure complaints, grievances and disciplinary procedures are included within our constitution.
(p) Ensure careful recruitment, selection and management procedures. These procedures will include regular support and supervision to all staff and volunteers.
(q) Share information with parents and children and other who may need to know.
(r) Ensure good and safe working/playing practices.
(s) Be involved in training made available through various agencies and to strengthen links with these agencies.
(t) To Promote best practice and provide advice and guidance to all affiliated members of NNI and to lead by example as regards Safeguarding procedures.
The Council provides several activities and programmes for children mainly squad training and competition at a regional and national level and also school and club competition and participation events. In doing so, the Council recognises the clear responsibilities placed on it under the Children’s Northern Ireland Order (1995) in terms of fulfilling its “Duty of Care” in respect of those young people participating in such activities. The Order significantly affects the moral and legal responsibilities of all those, both in the statutory and voluntary sectors, who work with children and young people up to the age of 18 years.
The welfare of children and young people is paramount to Netball Northern Ireland. It is the Council’s intention through this policy to protect as far as possible children involved in any activities it directly or indirectly organises, from all types of abuse. The Council will endeavour to provide an environment which values and protects children, in all aspects and at every level regardless of:
- perceived ability
- cultural identity
- religious beliefs
It is generally recognised that recreational activity including sport can contribute positively to the development of individuals not just physically but personally, socially and emotionally. This can only happen if those young people participating in activities do so safely, under the auspices of an informed forward thinking and enlightened employee or volunteer operating in an accepted ethical framework. Children participating in activities should be ensured of a fun, enjoyable and safe place to do so. They cannot feel happy or content if there are actions preventing this from occurring, therefore measures should be taken to prevent all causes of child abuse before they occur.
Some Council staff and volunteers will find themselves in positions of considerable influence – particularly when supervising young people. Staff and volunteers therefore have a profound responsibility through their daily duties to demonstrate and set high moral and ethical standards. In addition, in an age of increasing litigation and with a growing awareness of the incidence of all kinds of abuse, it is essential that staff and volunteers stop to consider their own practise to ensure that children’s welfare is paramount and that their behaviour cannot be misconstrued or deemed to contravene accepted good practice. Good practice protects everybody including:
- the child
- the employee
- Netball Northern IrelandEquality Statement
Netball Northern Ireland is committed to a policy of equal treatment of all members and requires all members of whatever level of authority to abide and adhere to this general principle and the requirements of the codes of practice issued by the Equal Opportunities Commission and Commission for Racial Equality.
As an organisation who is in receipt of public funds we have a contractual obligation to abide by the duties imposed by Section 75 (1) and (2) when carrying out our functions. We will have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity;
• Between person’s of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation;
• Between men and women generally;
• Between person’s with a disability and persons without; and
• Between persons with dependants and persons without.
Netball NI is also committed to having regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious beliefs, political opinion or racial group. The Equality Scheme sets out this commitment, detailing the procedures and steps it will take to ensure equality of opportunity for all.
All Children should be valued and treated in an equitable and fair manner regardless of ability, age, sex, religion, social and ethnic background or political persuasion. Children, irrespective of ability or disability should be involved in Sports activities in an integrated and inclusive way, whenever possible, thus allowing them to participate to their full potential alongside other children (Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport 2000)Confidentiality Statement
Netball Northern Ireland employees and volunteers will never promise to keep secrets. However, information of a confidential nature will only be communicated on a ‘need to know’ basis, with the welfare of the child paramount.
Considerations of confidentiality will not be allowed to override the rights of children or young people to be protected from harm (See Appendix 2)
A summary of the Child Protection Policy is displayed on the Councils Website and a copy of the full policy can be requested from the Netball Northern Ireland Office, contact details can be found on the website also.
Awareness of the Issues.
Background knowledge in relation to child abuse, the general principles of child protection and the ability to recognise and respond to abuse are important issues. Of primary concern for Netball Northern Ireland is the issue of Child Protection of our young members currently within our membership. However, being cognisant of the indicators of abuse in respect of young members caused by others outside of this setting, is of an equal importance for the safety and well being of that child.
What is Child Abuse?
Child abuse is the term used to describe ways in which children are harmed, usually by adults but also by other children and often by those they know and trust. Abuse of a child often takes place in the home, in school or in their sporting/leisure/community environment. Child abuse is a very emotive and difficult subject, especially if you think your child or a child you know is being harmed. It refers to the damage done to a child’s physical or mental health.
It is essential that every adult involved in children’s activities follow agreed Codes of Conduct and engage in Best Practice so that the environment in which the children play and take part is as safe and enjoyable as possible. Promoting this principle of good practice and campaigning to publicise the best advice to all coaches, administrators, officials, teachers and parents/guardians needs the support of all organisations and their members.
The Children (NI) Order 1995 formally recognises four types of abuse:
Physical Physical abuse is the deliberate physical injury to a child, or the willful or neglectful failure to prevent physical injury or suffering. This may include hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, confinement to a room or cot, or inappropriately giving drugs to control behaviour.
Neglect Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in significant harm. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate foods, shelter and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger, failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment, lack of stimulation or lack of supervision. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
Sexual 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 penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at or the production of pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Emotional Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment 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 involve causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Smothering a child’s development through over-protection can also be a form of abuse. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill treatment of a child, though it may occur alone. Domestic violence, adult mental health problems and parental substance misuse may expose children to emotional abuse.Peer Abuse and Bullying
Though bullying is not formally a form of abuse “Co-operating to Safeguard Children” (DHSS) places a responsibility on all institutions to;
“protect children from bullying and to have policies and procedures in place to do so”
The risk of bullying and harassment by adults and by children must be addressed by taking active steps to prevent it occurring and to intervene promptly and decisively when it comes to light. Bullying can be defined as repeated aggression by an individual or group against others e.g. teasing, taunting, threatening, hitting or extortion.
There are different types of bullying and these can occur between:
Child to child
Adult to child,
Child to adult.
Bullying may be prevented by:
• Raising awareness of bullying as an unacceptable behaviour
• Encouraging children to report bullying
• Comprehensive supervision
• Providing a supportive environment for victims of bullying
(Please refer to Appendix 3 - Anti-bullying and Peer Abuse Statement)
In defining peer abuse or the more commonly acknowledged abuse of children by adults the similarities are far more noteworthy than the differences. There is a strong correlation between peer abuse and other forms of abuse in terms of the types of behaviours exhibited, their impact, and outcomes and to some extent prevalence and in this regard it can be clearly demonstrated that peer abuse should be considered a form of child abuse.
Adults often do not interpret bullying behaviours as ‘abusive’ but as ‘conflict’. However, ‘conflict’ constitutes mutually aggressive interactions between peers, not the abuse of one individual at the hands of another, more powerful individual. The severity or seriousness of a bullying or peer abuse situation cannot be determined in terms of actions or frequency. Whilst policy and guidelines play an important role in addressing bullying and peer abuse, cases should be treated individually and dealt with depending on the effect and circumstances surrounding them.
Actions can be changed, but feelings are a personal issue. Those dealing with bullying or peer abuse disclosures or incidents should avoid judging the effect of the situation by their own feelings and take into account the feelings of the victim.
Netball Northern Ireland believes that bullying is a behaviour, which can be described as a form of ‘peer abuse’, and that it can be an inherent part of childhood behaviour. Despite this, it will always remain an unacceptable aspect of behaviour due to the severe and distressing effects it can have.
Central to this policy is the well-being of the bullied or abused child. Prevention and reaction strategies should aim to protect the victims and potential victims from further abuse. Punishments and sanctions, as essential as they may appear, are secondary to the safety and well-being of a victim of peer abuse. On disclosure of suspected peer abuse or bullying, staff should take measures to address the situation and protect the victim from further abuse. Netball Northern Ireland does not accept that anything should stand in the way of a procedure to ensure the protection of a child or young person.
Our first concern is the safety of and well being of the victim, not the punishment of the perpetrator. We acknowledge that at times sanctions and interventions may be necessary but that the ultimate aim is to stop the bullying or peer abuse and protect the victim from further abuse. Children and young people who abuse also require support to understand the effects on others and to develop more social and communication skills to change their behaviour, and this should be made available through the appropriate agencies.
All staff should have a clear understanding of procedures in responding to bullying or peer abuse disclosures and the Council’s Child Protection reporting procedures should be followed. Indicators of Abuse
Even for those experienced in working with child abuse, it is not always easy to recognise a situation where abuse may occur or has already taken place. It is unlikely that our staff will be experts and we should also stress that under the Children (NI) Order 1995, the relevant Health and Social Services Trust has a statutory duty to ensure the welfare of a child.
The following is a list of some indicators of abuse, but it is not exhaustive:
• Unexplained bruising in soft tissue areas
• Repeated injuries
• Black eyes
• Injuries to the mouth
• Torn or bloodstained clothing
• Burns or scalds
• Marks from implements
• Unexplained changes in behaviour – becoming withdrawn or aggressive
• Difficulty in making friends
• Distrustful of adults or excessive attachment to adults
• Sudden drop in performance
• Changes in attendance pattern
• Inappropriate sexual awareness, behaviour or language
• Reluctance to remove clothing
This list is not meant to be complete, and the presence of one or more of these indicators is not proof that abuse is actually taking place. We stress, however, that it is not the responsibility of managers to prove that abuse is taking place. Instead, it is their responsibility to act on any concerns by reporting them to the Designated Officer.
It is our responsibility to provide a safe environment for children by employing people who are suitable to work with, or to have contact with, children. We do this by having effective and clear procedures for our staff to report any suspicions, through our own procedures, to the relevant Health and Social Services Trust.Possible indicators of inappropriate behaviour
People who pose a threat to children can be very skilled at avoiding detection. Continued vigilance is important and there are some behaviours that may alert you to the possibility of abuse. You should be particularly vigilant if someone:
• Pays an unusual amount of attention to children and provides them with presents, money or ‘favours’;
• Seeks out vulnerable children;
• Seeks opportunities to spend significant amounts of time alone with a single child or a small group of children on a regular basis;
• Encourages secretiveness about their activities and time spent with children;
• Takes a child or children to his/her own home;
• Is vague about previous employment;
• Has an unusual amount of physical contact with a child or children;
• Touches child in an inappropriate manner;
• Talks to children in an in appropriate manner;
• Avoids close supervision and management of work.Guidelines for responding to a disclosure
There is not one simple set of rules to follow when you respond to these situations. However, the following key points should guide the actions of staff and volunteers who are told of abuse.
Listen & hear. Give the person time to say what they want
Reassure them that they are safe and they have done the right thing in telling
Tell the person what will happen next and it will be dealt with appropriately.
Explain that you must tell, but you will maintain confidentiality
Record in writing what was said as soon as possible (See appendix 14)
Report to someone else in the organisation – “the designated person” immediately (Appendix 8, 9 & 11)
Record your report
Promise to keep secrets
Question unless for clarification
Enquire into the details of the abuse
Make a child repeat the story unnecessarily
Rush into actions
Make/pass judgment on alleged abuser
Take sole responsibility
Note – It is essential that you record the exact information (word for word if possible) rather than recording your interpretation of the Child’s statements. Dealing with concerns about a child
A member of staff or volunteer may have concerns about a child’s behaviour or something the child has told them. These may only be vague concerns and not evidence that child abuse has occurred. It is important that these are taken seriously.
It is essential that:
• A written record is made of concerns that result from observations made or information received. That record may be made jointly with the organisation’s Designated Officer after discussion (See Appendix 14);
• The Designated Officer may need to seek further advice from an appropriate organisation (i.e. NSPCC, Social Services, PSNI etc. See Appendix 11)
• Netball Northern Ireland’s child protection procedures should be followed (See Appendices 7, 8 & 9).
If a member of staff / volunteer feels that concerns are not being taken seriously, this should again be discussed with the Designated Officer or a more senior colleague. If necessary contact (for further contacts See Appendix 11):
• The local Social Services Office on 028 90545600
• NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000
• The local Police station. 028 90650222What NOT to do
If there are concerns that a child is perhaps being abused: -
• Never do nothing and assume someone else will do something
• Never question or push the child for more information or explanation. This could affect any subsequent criminal investigation;
• Never discuss the concerns with the suspected abuser. This could have implications for criminal proceedings. In addition, there is always the possibility that the suspected abuser might threaten the child to make them deny anything has happened.Guidelines for reporting allegations / incidents
1. If a member of staff has a concern about a child protection issue they should first contact the Designated Child Protection Officer for Netball NI. The designated officers details are displaying on the website and are circulated annually to all members.
2. The Designated Officer(s) and follow the current reporting procedure already in place
3. If the Designated Officer cannot be contacted then the President of Netball Northern Ireland should be contacted.
4. Record all incidents reported or observed on an Incident Form (See appendix 14) and 1 copy of Incident Report Form given to the Designated Officer within 24 hours
5. Ensure confidentiality – only “need to know basis” (See Appendix 3) and all reports will be stored in a safe and secure environmentDealing with concerns about a colleague
The vast majority of people who work with children are well motivated and would never harm a child. Unfortunately a few do and it is essential that the Council creates a culture that makes staff willing and comfortable to voice their concerns, particularly those about someone with whom they work or whom they know. Again, the organisation’s child protection procedures should be followed (See Appendices 8 to 10).
Inappropriate or unacceptable behaviour or communication, favouritism or negligence are examples of what may constitute a concern about the conduct of a member of staff. An allegation about a staff member occurs when a child, parent or other staff member reports specific unacceptable behaviour where a child has been harmed or abused in some way. Allegations against staff must be referred to a Designated Officer. In the case of allegations against one of the Designated Officers this should be reported to another Netball NI Board Member or directly to a statutory agency.
During an investigation, support should be given both to the individual who voices concerns and to the suspected abuser. Once the investigation is completed, the organisation must decide what action, if any is necessary to prevent a similar situation arising again.
Staff need to know:
- What constitutes a “concern”, “disclosure” and, “allegation”
- Who to report to and their contact details
- How to access the pro formas used for reporting concerns, disclosures and allegations
- Contact details for PSNI and Social Services in the event that a Designated Officer is not available in an emergency
- Netball Northern Ireland will support them through the reporting procedure
- Their primary concern as the first person that suspects or is told of possible abuse is to report it to the designated person and ensure the concern is taken seriously
Under no circumstances should any staff member attempt to deal with the problem of abuse alone.False Allegations
Staff working with children may feel vulnerable to accusations of child abuse. There have been occasions when false allegations have been made against staff. This may be because of a misunderstanding of what has happened or a genuine mistake. If allegations are made, it is important to:
• Stay calm;
• Co-operate with the investigation;
• Seek advice and support from a manager or, if appropriate, a professional organisation, union, family or friends;
• Ensure that clear records are kept of any meetings attended, discussions or correspondence about the allegations;
• Avoid discussing the allegations with the person who made them.Role and Responsibility of Designated Child Protection Officer
The Designated Person within Netball Northern Ireland is:
NAME: CHILD PROTECTION OFFICER (KAREN ROLLO)
Telephone: 028 9073 6320
Or Mobile: 077 3894 7389
The named person shall be made known to all members of staff as the designated person to whom all concerns will be addressed. If the concern is about the designated person please report to the president or another board member of Netball Northern Ireland.
The designated officer’s role is to:
Recruitment and Selection of Staff
- Promote the implementation of Netball Northern Irelands Child Protection Policy and Procedures among staff.
- Be able to communicate effectively with staff to ensure the widespread dissemination of the Netball Northern Irelands Code of Conduct
- Have an understanding of Our Duty to Care to ensure they can act as an information service to other staff members.
- Advise Netball Northern Ireland of the child protection training needs for staff members.
- Keep only relevant people within the organisation informed about any action taken and any further action required.
- Monitor and review child protection policy and procedures on a regular basis, including advice on recruitment and selection.
- Ensure the maintenance of individual case records; what action is taken; other agencies informed, ensuring confidentiality is maintained.
- Establish a contact with a senior member of social services staff responsible for child protection in the organisation’s catchment area.
- Ensure that appropriate information is available to social services / police at the time of a referral
- Ensure the safe keeping of any case material/reports in a confidential and secure manner
The majority of people who want to work with children are well motivated and without them organisations could not operate. Unfortunately some individuals will try to use organisations to gain inappropriate contact with children. Good recruitment and selection procedures will help screen out and discourage those who are not suitable from joining an organisation.
Good recruitment and selection procedures benefit everyone. Staff will have a clearly defined role. This will enhance their self-confidence, which will have a positive impact on children they are working with.
Netball NI will ensure the following:
• Volunteers and coaches are carefully selected, trained and supervised, using agreed recruitment and selection procedures.
• All new coaches/ volunteers working with children or young people must complete the enclosed application form. (see appendix 7)
• Declaration of past convictions or cases pending .(see appendix 7 and completing a Disclosure Certificate Application Form is a pre-requisite to approval to coach. (see appendix 7 whereby we state our intention to carry out Access NI checks)
• ALL volunteers/coaches must agree to abide by the organisation’s Safeguarding Policy and all are required to sign the Code of Conduct. (see appendix 1a, Code of Conduct)
• Any concerns or objections with regard to suitability of a coach must be submitted to the "designated person". These matters will be dealt with by the designated officer with appropriate action taken including a formal response in writing to the concerned party if required.Staff Training
All staff will receive inductions and child protection training appropriate to their role. Training will be updated and reviewed regularly for new staff and in line with changing legalisation. All Staff in regulated positions (including designated officers and Netball NI Office bearers) should have child protection training that includes a basic awareness and understanding of child protection issues and Netball Northern Irelands Child Protections Policy, procedure and guidelines.
• Appointment of volunteers /coaches will be on the basis of their current or previous experience either playing or coaching Netball.
• Education and training in the basics of child protection will apply to all coaches/volunteers/management committee members working with the children or young members.
• Netball Northern Ireland are committed to continuous updating and review of our current Safeguarding Children & Young People Policy.
Safeguarding training should include
- Basic awareness of child protection issues
- Good Practice in coaching including Codes of Conduct
Training will be carefully selected to ensure it is sufficient. For instance a 1-hour training session is unlikely to be very useful. A minimum of 3 hours is required for basic awareness raising & we will seek that training from a specific training provider with experience and knowledge of good practice in sport.
• Ensuring that all new coaches have attended child protection awareness workshop within six months of taking up their post (is this process in place). This opportunity should also be made available to parents and other volunteers to enable a culture of a child-focused club to prevail.
• All staff and volunteers should receive induction, and training appropriate to their role. Training should be updated and reviewed regularly for new staff/ volunteers and in line with changing legislation.Adult/Child Ratios
Supervision must be adequate, whether at a sole venue or on a journey or visit. It is for leaders in charge to exercise their professional judgement in deciding the level of supervision depending upon the age and ability level of the participants taking part.
Supervision levels for all Council organised activities are identified prior to each event/activity organised. Supervision levels for each event are finalised within a risk assessment carried out prior to the event and the Designated Officer or the Council Insurance Company should make final approval. The following ratios may provide some guidance:
Activity/Netball Session 1 Adult to 15 Participants
Away Trips/Events 1 Adult to 10 Participants
There should be one additional staff member for every 10 extra children or part thereof.
The ratio of staff and volunteers to children with disabilities is dependent on the needs of the individual child. Ratios may need to be reviewed depending on the risk assessment of a particular activity.