OAK HILL BOWLS CLUB THE POLICY FOR SAFEGUARDING AND PROTECTING CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE PERSONS

The Protection of Children and the Vulnerable – is everybody’s business

The safety and welfare of children – or child protection – is everybody’s business. You could be a neighbour, friend, parent, relative, childminder, teacher or doctor – or working for any organisation which has contact with children and young people.

Child protection means protecting children from physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect. It also means helping children to grow up into confident, healthy and happy adults.

Child abuse hits the headlines on a regular basis. We read and hear horrendous stories about neglect and cruelty, about ‘the system’ letting children down and about professionals who got it wrong – either by getting involved too late or ‘interfering’ too early.  But it’s always the bad news which makes the headlines and these cases are actually very few and far between.

In the majority of cases, we make sure that children are protected and safe from harm.  However, our concern should also be to ensure the welfare of all our members and those visiting our premises, including adults and other vulnerable persons.

To this end the following Safeguarding and Protecting Children and Vulnerable Persons Policy has been produced and reviewed.  Although the document often refers to guidelines and procedures in dealing with children, these guidelines can also be applied to our dealings with adults and should be read in that context. 

OAK HILL SAFEGUARDING OFFICERS: 

Christine Shields (Tel: 020 8368 7809)

John Abson (Tel: 020 8368 3890)  

The following club members have also attended an appropriate Safeguarding course –

Janice Ford                   Jackie Robinson                      David Bowler                      Stephen Quy

(01707 850983)          (020 8441 3663)                      (020 8361 1606)                  (020 8440 5821) 

OAK HILL BOWLS CLUB

SAFEGUARDING & CHILD PROTECTION POLICY

Introduction

All sporting organisations which make provision for children and young people must ensure that – 

  • the welfare of the child is paramount;
  • all children – of whatever age, culture, ability / disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious beliefs and/or sexual identity – have the right to protection from abuse;
  • all suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately;
  • all staff paid or unpaid and all members working in sport have a responsibility to report concerns to the appropriate officer;
  • all staff and volunteers are trained to deal with situations of abuse or to decide if abuse has taken place. 

Policy Statement

Oak Hill Bowls Club has a duty of care to safeguard from harm all children and adults involved within the Club.  All children have a right to protection and the need of disabled children and others who may be particularly vulnerable must be taken into account.  Oak Hill Bowls Club will ensure the safety and protection of all children and vulnerable persons involved at the Club through adherence to the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy adopted by the Club. 

A Child is defined as a person under the age of 18 (The Child Protection Act 1989) 

Policy Aims

The aim of Oak Hill’s Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy is to promote good practice – i.e. 

  • to provide children and young people with appropriate safety and protection whilst in the care of  Oak Hill Bowls Club;
  • to provide a safe environment where all members can enjoy the activities that the club provides;
  • to allow all members and volunteers to make an informed and confident response to specific protection issues. 

Good Practice means 

  • Always working in an open environment (e.g. avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communications with no secrets);
  • Treating all young people and adults equally, and with respect and dignity;
  • Always putting the welfare of each person first, before winning or achieving goals;
  • Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance with players;
  • Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust, enabling children to share in the decision making process;
  • Making sport fun, enjoyable and promoting fair play;
  • Keeping up to date with technical skills, qualifications and insurance in sport;
  • Involving parents/carers wherever possible;
  • Ensuring parents, carers, teachers, coaches or officials do not work singly;
  • Ensuring that if mixed teams are taken away they are always accompanied by both male and female adults;
  • Being an excellent role model. This includes not smoking or drinking alcohol or using bad or abusive language in the company of young children;
  • Giving enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism;
  • Recognising the developmental needs and capacity of young people and adults;
  • Avoiding excessive training or competition and not pushing them against their will;
  • Securing parental consent to act in loco parentis, if the need arises to administer first aid and/or other medical treatment to a child;
  • Keeping a written record of any injury that occurs, along with the details of any treatment given. 

Practises to be Avoided

The following should be avoided except in an emergency –

  • spending excessive amounts of time alone with children away from others;
  • taking or dropping off a child to an event. 

If cases arise where these situations are unavoidable, it should be with the full knowledge and consent of someone in charge or the child’s parents, e.g. a child sustains an injury and needs to go to hospital, or a parent fails to arrive to pick up a child at the end of a session. 

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 themselves;
  • Invite or allow children to stay with you at your home unsupervised.

Types of Abuse

Although physical abuse and sexual abuse are the main categories that receive headlines, there are other types of abuse that children, young people and some adults suffer. 

Physical Abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, burning or scalding, or otherwise causing physical harm to another person.  Although physical abuse may not occur on our premises, we should be alert to the need to be aware of the possibility of abuse elsewhere, to be observant and to report and record any concerns. 

Sexual Abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or adult to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the individual is aware of what is happening.  It may also involve individuals in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, or encouraging them to behave in sexually inappropriate ways. 

Emotional Abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a person such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the individual’s emotional development and self-esteem. 

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet an individual’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the person’s health or development. 

Financial or Material Abuse is the denial of access of the individual to money, property and possessions, or the improper or unauthorised use of funds via omissions, exploitation or extortion through threats. 

Discriminatory Abuse, including racist and sexist abuse, exists where values, beliefs or culture result in the misuse of power that denies opportunities to some individuals or groups, or denigrates other individuals or groups. 

Domestic Abuse includes any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults or young people. 

Abuse using Social Media.  Social media (email, mobile phones, websites, instant messaging, chatrooms, etc.) is increasingly being used to harm or harass children, young people and adults in a deliberate manner. 

Self-neglect refers to an unwillingness or inability to care for oneself and/or one’s environment.  It encompasses a wide range of behaviours and is sometimes linked to –

  • increased incidence of depression;
  • the onset of dementia;
  • feelings of low self-esteem;
  • other forms of abuse. 

Other more radical forms of abuse include child sexual exploitation, trafficking, modern slavery and radicalisation. 

Being aware of potential abuse is the responsibility of all our members and any concerns should be reported to the club’s Safeguarding Officer, who will take the necessary action.

Recruitment and Training of Volunteers

Oak Hill Bowls Club recognises that anyone has the potential to abuse children in some way, and that all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure unsuitable people are prevented from working with children.  The club’s committee and Safeguarding Officer will be responsible for appointing suitable members to work with children and/or others who may be vulnerable.  Volunteers from outside the club will be required to provide evidence of their suitability and qualifications to coach and work with children and vulnerable adults. 

Checks to be Made

  • Does the applicant have an appropriate coaching certificate and license to coach?
  • Has the applicant had Child Protection training?
  • Has the applicant had first aid training?
  • Does the applicant carry the required insurance? 

Training

 In addition, Oak Hill Bowls Club will aim to give volunteers any additional training required to –

  • recognise their responsibilities and report any concerns about suspected poor practice or possible abuse;
  • respond to concerns expressed by a child or young person;
  • work safely and effectively with children;
  • ensure their own practice is likely to protect them from false allegations. 

Oak Hill Bowls Club further requires that:

  • instructors and coaching volunteers attend a recognised good practice and child protection awareness course, to ensure their practice is exemplary. This will develop a positive culture towards good practice and child protection;
  • other volunteers should complete an awareness training course on child protection. 

Guidelines on Touch for Those who Work with Children

Touch is very important for children and can be appropriate.  It can be a non-verbal way of providing encouragement and communicating care, concern and understanding.  However, in order to ensure the well-being and safety of children, and to promote safer working, it is important to have a sound appreciation of appropriate boundaries and how to use touch in a safe way. 

The following guidelines suggest ways of achieving this –

  • Touch should always occur in public.  Giving someone a hug in the context of a group is very different from a hug behind closed doors.
  • Touch should be related to the child’s needs and feelings, not yours.  This requires you to be self-aware and sensitive to children’s feelings.
  • Be sensitive to the child’s reaction to touch.  If a child is not happy with physical contact respect this.
  • Touch should be age-appropriate and generally initiated by the child rather than the worker / volunteer.

Incidents that must be Reported and Recorded 

If any of the following occur you should immediately record the incident and report the details to the Safeguarding Officer.  You may also wish to report the incident to a colleague.  If a child is involved you should also ensure the parents of the child are informed – 

  • If you accidentally hurt a player;
  • If he/she seems distressed in any manner;
  • If a player appears to be sexually aroused by your actions;
  • If a player misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done. 

 Use of Photographic / Video Equipment

 Videoing/ photography can be a very useful coaching aid.  However, it has been known that some people have used a sporting occasion to take inappropriate photographs or videos of young people. You must therefore be vigilant and any concerns should be reported to the club’s Safeguarding Officer.  Before taking pictures of a child you must

  • obtain parental consent of the child;
  • explain to the child why and what the video/picture will be used for.

You must never

  • use such equipment without the parent’s consent;
  • use such equipment unless other people are present;
  • use such equipment without explaining what you are trying to achieve, both to the child and parent. 

 Responding to Allegations or Suspicions

 It is not the responsibility of anyone working on behalf of Oak Hill Bowls Club, in a paid or unpaid capacity, 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.  In the first instance, the club’s Safeguarding Officer should be informed of any concern, and they have the responsibility to report the matter further if necessary. 

When responding to a child, young person or parent, who shares a concern with you, remember these guidelines –

  • NEVER promise to keep a secret.
  • React calmly; be aware of your non-verbal messages.
  • Don’t stop a child or parent who is talking freely about what has happened;
  • Don’t ask leading questions;
  • Reassure the child or parent that they have done the right thing by telling you.
  • Avoid making comments or judgements.
  • Tell the child or parent what will happen next.
  • Record the incident, using the child or parent’s words. 

Oak Hill Bowls Club will assure all staff and volunteers that it will fully support and protect anyone, who in good faith reports his or her concerns that a colleague is, or may be, abusing a child. 

Information required for Social Services or the Police

To ensure that this information is as helpful as possible a detailed record should always be made at the time of disclosure or concern, which should include the following –

  • the individual’s name, age and date of birth;
  • the individual’s home address and telephone number;
  • whether the person making the report is expressing their own concerns or those of someone else;
  • the nature of the allegation, including dates, times and any other factors or relevant information;
  • a clear distinction between what is fact, and what is opinion or hearsay;
  • a description of any visible bruising or other injuries, or behavioural changes;
  • the individual’s account, if it can be given, of what has happened. (On no account push the individual into giving information);
  • details of any witnesses to the incident;
  • details of any contact with the parents, if the incident concerns a child;
  • details of anyone else being consulted;
  • details of the alleged abuser. 

Where possible, a referral to the police or social services should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours.  The name of the person who took the referral should be recorded.  The Bowls England Child Protection Officer should also be informed of the incident and action taken.  Bowls England will then take responsibility for any press involvement.

Use of the Bowls England forms will guide you through the task of recording the incident.  

Confidentiality

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 club’s Safeguarding Officer;
  • the parents of the child who is alleged to have been abused;
  • the person making the allegation;
  • Social Services and police;
  • Oak Hill Bowls Club President, Secretary and the Bowls England Child Protection Officer;
  • The alleged abuser and parents if the alleged abuser is a child. You should seek Social Services/NSPCC advice on who should approach the alleged abuser.

Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with Data Protection laws (i.e. that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure). 

Complaints

Where there is a complaint against a member there may be three types of investigation –

  • A criminal (police) investigation;
  • A child protection investigation;
  • A disciplinary or misconduct investigation. 

The results of a police or child protection investigation may well influence a disciplinary investigation, but not necessarily. 

  1. Concerns about poor practice: 
  • If, following consideration, the allegation is clearly about poor practice: the club’s Safeguarding Officer will deal with it as a misconduct issue.
  • If the allegation is about poor practice by the club’s Safeguarding Officer, or a matter has been handled inadequately and concerns remain, it should be reported to the relevant NGB Officer who will deal with the allegation and whether or not to initiate disciplinary proceedings. 
  1. Concerns about suspected abuse: 
  • Any suspicion that a child has been abused by either a member or a volunteer should be reported to the club’s Safeguarding Officer, 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 club’s Safeguarding Officer will refer the allegation to the Social Services Department who may involve the police, or go directly to the police if out of hours;
  • The parents or carers of the child will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the Social Services Department;
  • The club’s Safeguarding Officer should also inform the relevant Bowls England Officer, who will deal with any media enquiries;
  • If the club’s Safeguarding Officer is the subject of any suspicion or allegation, the report must be made to the appropriate Officer or the Bowls England Child Protection Officer who will refer the allegation to Social services. 
  1. Concerns outside Oak Hill Bowls Club’s control: 
  • Report your concerns to the club’s Safeguarding Officer, who should contact Social Services and or the police as soon as possible;
  • If the club’s Safeguarding Officer is not available the person being told or discovering the abuse should immediately contact Social Services and / or the police;
  • Social Services and the club’s Safeguarding Officer will decide how to involve the parents or carers;
  • The club’s Safeguarding Officer should also inform the Bowls England Child Protection Officer.  Bowls England will then ascertain whether or not the persons involved play a role in Oak Hill Bowls Club and take appropriate action. 

 Internal Enquiries and Suspension

The club’s Safeguarding Officer will 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 police or Social Services inquiries, the club’s disciplinary committee will assess all individual cases to decide whether a member or volunteer 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 club’s disciplinary committee must reach a decision based on the available information, the welfare of the child being of paramount importance in any such decisions. 

Support to Deal with the Aftermath of Abuse

Consideration must be given to the kind of support that children, parents and members may require.  Use of help lines, support groups and open meetings can maintain an open culture and help the healing process.  Advice may be obtained from The British Association for Counselling at www.bacp.co.uk .  Consideration must also be given to what kind of support may be appropriate for the alleged perpetrator. 

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).  Where such allegations are made the above procedures must be followed and reported to Social Services or the police, as the alleged perpetrator may still be working with children and thereby putting them at risk. 

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 any concerns. It is believed that up to 12 children a year commit suicide because of bullying, so if anyone talks about or threatens suicide professional help must be sought immediately;.
  • Investigate all allegations and take action to ensure that the victim is safe. Speak with the victim and perpetrator 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 and when);
  • Report any concerns to the club’s Safeguarding Officer, regardless of when the bullying is occurring. 

Action to be Taken Towards the Bully 

  • Talk to the bully, explain the situation and try to get them to understand the consequences of their behaviour. Seek an apology to the victim;
  • Inform the bully’s parents;
  • Insist on the return of borrowed items and that the bullies compensate the victim;
  • Provide support for the victim’s coach;
  • Impose sanctions as necessary;
  • Encourage and support the bully to change their behaviour;
  • Hold meetings with the families to report progress;
  • Inform all members of the action taken;
  • Keep a written record of the action taken. 

Useful Contacts and Resources 

also see www.stopitnow.org.uk and www.parentsprotect.co.uk

 

Policy adopted – December 2010.

Policy reviewed – April 2018.