Guidance on Safeguarding Matters
At Blandford Rugby Football Club (BRFC) we believe that taking part in our sport should be a positive and enjoyable part of children’s lives.
We want to make sure that children are protected and kept safe from physical, sexual and emotional harm while they are with the Club’s coaches, helpers and other volunteers.
It is the aim of BRFC to ensure that the practices and procedures, which we implement, will comply with the principles contained within UK and international legislation. The following legislation is to be taken into consideration:
The Children Act 1989 and 2004.
The Protection of Children Act 1999.
Working Together to Safeguard Children and Young People DOH 2006.
’Caring for the Young and Vulnerable’ Home Office Guidance for Preventing the Abuse of Trust 1999.
The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Sexual Offences Act.
The Human Rights Act 1998.
’What to do if you are worried a child may be being abused’ DOH 2003.
Abuse is a powerful and emotive term. It is a term used to describe ways in which children are harassed, usually by individuals and often by those they know and trust. Coaches and others working with young people hold this trust and may be at risk of misusing their power over the young players.
In order to provide young people with the best possible experiences and opportunities in rugby, it is imperative that everyone operates within the accepted framework and demonstrates exemplary behaviour. This not only ensures that members of BRFC makes a positive contribution to the development of young players and safeguards their welfare, but also protects all personnel from false allegations of abuse or poor practice.
The four main types of abuse are:
In general terms, emotional abuse occurs when adults or even other young persons’ persistently fail to show children due care, love or affection, where a child may be constantly shouted at, threatened or taunted, or be subjected to sarcasm and unrealistic pressures. There may also be over-protection, preventing children from socialising, or bullying to perform to high expectations. The child may lose self-confidence and may become withdrawn and nervous.
In a coaching situation, emotional abuse may occur when coaches volunteers or parents:
Provide repeated negative feedback.
Repeatedly ignore a young player’s efforts to progress.
Repeatedly demand performance levels above those of which the young player is capable.
Over emphasise the winning ethic.
In general terms neglect as a form of abuse occurs when a child’s essential needs for food, warmth and care fail to be met. Failing to or refusing to provide love and affection could also be deemed as neglect.
In a coaching situation, neglect may occur when:
Young players are left alone without proper supervision.
A young player is exposed to unnecessary heat or cold without fluids or protection.
A young player is exposed to an unacceptable risk of injury.
In general terms, this occurs when adults, or even children, deliberately inflict injuries on a child, or knowingly do not prevent injuries. It includes injuries caused by hitting, shaking, squeezing, biting or using excessive force. It also occurs when an adult gives children alcohol, or inappropriate drugs, or fails to supervise their access to these substances.
In a coaching situation, physical abuse may occur when:
Coaches expose young players to exercise/training, which disregards the capacity of the player’s immature and growing body.
Coaches expose young players to injury due to overplaying, over-training or fatigue.
Coaches expose young players to alcohol, or give them the opportunity to drink alcohol below the legal age.
Coaches expose young players to performance enhancing drugs and recommend that they take them.
Young persons can be abused by adults (both male and female) or other young people. This may include encouraging or forcing a child or young person to take part in sexual activity.
In a rugby situation, sexual abuse may occur when:
An adult uses the context of a training session to touch a young person in an inappropriate sexual way.
Coaches, managers or volunteers use their position of power and authority to coerce young players into a sexual relationship.
Coaches or other adult members of the club imply better progression of a player in return for sexual favours.
Bullying is not always easy to define and will not always be an adult abusing a young person. It is often that the bully is a young person. All coaches and personnel working within BRFC must be familiar with the different types of bullying.
There are three main types of bullying Physical, Verbal and Emotional.
In a rugby situation bullying may occur when:
A coach adopts a win-at-all-costs philosophy.
A player intimidates others.
An official is over officious.
It is of paramount importance that all BRFC Coaches, Support personnel, players and their parents/guardians are aware of the club Anti Bullying Policy.
All coaches and personnel who undertake any role within the BRFC should be aware that any behaviour that contravenes any of the following codes of behaviour could be deemed to be poor practice.
The Codes of Practice are:
RFU Fair Play Codes.
RFU/RFUW Coaches’ Code of Ethics.
RFU/RFUW Equity Policy.
RFU/RFUW Good Practice in the Rugby Setting.
RFU/RFUW Policy and Procedures for the Welfare Young People in Rugby Union.
RFU/RFUW Anti Bullying Policy.
RFU/RFUW Tour/Children and Young People Away from Home Policy.
RFU/RFUW Event Co-ordinator Pack (the guidelines in this pack must be followed for all tournaments and competitions).
RFU/RFUW Parent Guide.
The procedures for dealing with a case of poor practice are set out in the appropriate Appendices within this documentation pack.
As members of BRFC Mini and Youth Section the following guidelines should be followed where there is a concern relating to the welfare of a young person:
If the young person is in immediate danger or has been physically injured, ensure that they are safe and contact the police and social services.
If the young person is not in immediate danger but you have concerns either: Discuss the concerns with the BRFC Safeguarding Officer or the BRFC Chairman who will advise on the correct procedure for referring your concern appropriately OR Contact the RFU Child Protection Helpline.
Make a note of what you have seen or heard but do not delay in passing on the information. Complete the BRFC Incident Record Form as soon as possible.
Please remember that it is not your responsibility to decide if abuse is occurring but it is your responsibility to act on any concerns that you have.
Any member of the BRFC Mini and Youth Section who becomes aware of anything which causes them to feel uncomfortable must discuss it with the Club Safeguarding Officer.
This means that all coaches and committee members of the BRFC and in particular members of the Mini and Youth Section being aware of the attitudes and the interactions between children and all other coaches and administrative staff and each other.
If the behaviour is contrary to this welfare policy and procedures and young people are at risk then action must be taken.
All members of the BRFC Mini and Youth Section committee must also be alert to any unusual incidents or activities where another adult is putting young people and themselves in a vulnerable position.
In all cases of reported poor practice/abuse the following principles should be adopted:
Stay Calm, do not rush into inappropriate action. React calmly in order not to alarm the young person.
Reassure the child, that they are not to blame and confirm that you know how difficult it must be to confide.
Listen sympathetically, to what the child says and show that you take them seriously.
Keep questions to a minimum, the law is very strict and child abuse cases have been dismissed where the child has been led or words and ideas have been suggested. Only ask questions to clarify.
Ensure you clearly understand what the child has said – in order that the information can be passed on to the appropriate agencies.
Consult with the Club Safeguarding Office ensuring that all the information is accurate.
Maintain Confidentiality, all incidents will be treated with an open mind and handled in a fair and equitable manner. Information will only be shared on a need to know basis. Confidentiality must be maintained until a case is proved.
Ensure the safety of the young person, if urgent medical attention is required then call an ambulance, inform the doctors of your concerns and ensure that they are aware that this is a child protection issue.
Don’t panic, or allow your feelings to be evident.
Don’t make promises you cannot keep, explain that you will need to tell other people.
Don’t make the child repeat the story unnecessarily.
Don’t speculate or make assumptions.
Don’t approach the alleged abuser.
Don’t take sole responsibility.
In all cases contact the BRFC Safeguarding Officer and/or BRFC Chairman. In their absence advice can be sought from the RFU Safeguarding Team who can be contacted on 0208 831 6655 Or NSPCC 24 Hour Helpline on 0808 800 5000.
Concerns about poor practice and possible abuse within the rugby setting.
This relates to anyone working within BRFC Mini and Youth Section as a volunteer or a visiting coach, member of a visiting teams administrative staff or adult.
Allegations will often relate to poor practice where an adults behaviour is inappropriate and is the cause for concern.
Poor practice constitutes any behaviour which:
Contravenes the RFU Codes of Ethics or Codes of Good Practice in the Rugby Setting.
Infringes an individual’s rights.
Is a failure to fulfil the highest standards of care.
Poor practice is unacceptable within the sport of rugby and is treated as a serious failing by the RFU. BRFC will instigate in accordance with the RFU/RFUW regulations the appropriate actions.
Action to take if a young person informs you that they are concerned about someone’s behaviour towards them in the rugby setting.
All coaches and members of BRFC Mini and Youth Section will follow the principles set out within this document if they are informed by a young person of their concerns about someone’s behaviour towards them. They must also complete the RFU Incident Record Form
Information which is passed to external agencies must be as helpful as possible. It will be necessary to make a detailed report at the time of the disclosure. The report should contain the following details:
The young person’s name, address and date of birth. Also if they have any disability.
The nature of the allegation.
A description of any injuries/bruising.
Any observations about the behaviour/emotional state of the young person.
Times, location, dates which are relevant.
The young person’s account in their own words of what has happened.
Actions that you have taken as a result of your concerns.
Whether the person completing the report is expressing their own concerns or those of a third party.
Sign and date the report.
Keep a copy.
Keep a record of the name and designation of the Social Services member of staff or police officer to whom the concerns were passed.
You must not investigate the disclosure yourself. You must:
Make a full record of what has been said, heard or seen as soon as possible.
Inform the BRFC Safeguarding Officer or in their absence the BRFC Chairman.
The BRFC Safeguarding Officer will report the matter to the RFU Safeguarding Officer and any other parties as directed by the RFU Safeguarding Team via the CB Safeguarding Manager.
If following the guidance of the RFU Safeguarding Officer that the issue is deemed as poor practice the BRFC Safeguarding Officer must:
Following a decision by the RFU that the incident is deemed to be investigated as Child Protection/Abuse the BRFC Safeguarding Officer must:
Refer the allegation to the Police and Social Services. They will give advice concerning who should contact the child’s parents/guardians.
Inform the RFU Safeguarding Executive of the advice given by the Police and Social Services. A written report utilising the Incident form is also to be forwarded to the RFU Child Protection Officer who will report the incident to the RFU Child Protection Referral Management Group.
Non-action is not an option. The welfare of the young person is paramount.
ACTION TO TAKE IF YOU BECOME AWARE THROUGH YOUR OWN OBSERVATIONS OR THROUGH A THIRD PARTY OF POSSIBLE ABUSE IN A SETTING OTHER THAN RUGBY.
If any member of the BRFC Mini and Youth Section committee becomes aware of any possible abuse outside the rugby setting they must:
The guidelines and procedures within this Policy should then be followed:
Report the concerns to the BRFC Safeguarding Officer.
The BRFC Safeguarding Officer is to comply with this document and seek the advice of the RFU Safeguarding Team and/or the RFU Safeguarding Helpline.
If there is any delay in receiving advice the Safeguarding Officer is to make contact with the Social Services.
If the advice given is that the concerns should be dealt with as a formal referral then both the Social Services and Police must be made fully aware that it is a child protection issue.
All police forces have a dedicated Child Abuse Investigation Team which deals with allegations of abuse within a family environment. If any member of the BRFC Mini and Youth Section believes that a child is in immediate danger or has come to physical harm within the family environment they must immediately contact the police by dialling 999. Then the other action points set out within this section should be completed.
Parents/guardians should only be contacted by a member of BRFC Mini and Youth Section Committee is advised to do so by either the police or social services.
Non-action is not an option. The welfare of the young person is paramount to every other consideration. Delay in acting could increase the risk to the child.
It is important when dealing with disclosures or observations which cause concerns the following:
It is often difficult for young people to disclose abuse. Previous experiences of prejudice may lead them to believe that those in authority do not really care about their well being.
Disabled young people may have to overcome additional barriers before they feel confident to disclose their concerns.
For some young people the abuser may be the only person to provide them with attention and/or affection.
It is vitally important that members of BRFC Mini and Youth Section are vigilant and provide the appropriate levels of support.
It is vital when recruiting coaches and volunteers to the Mini and Youth Section of BRFC that they are of the highest calibre and meet all the requirements to work safely with young people. It is crucial that they meet the stringent guidelines set out by the RFU/RFUW to ensure that persons who may pose a threat to young people are not allowed to enter the sport of rugby union.
BRFC Mini and Youth Section recruitment for all coaches and volunteer staff will follow the principles detailed below:
When the Mini and Youth Section BRFC advertises to recruit any coaches or administrative staff the advertising will reflect:
The responsibilities of the role.
The level of experience or qualifications required, where applicable.
The BRFC Mini and Youth Section stance on Safeguarding and that of the RFU/RFUW.
All applicants/volunteers who will be working within the Mini and Youth Section will be required to initially complete the Volunteer Application. All adults who have been offered/accepted a position where they are in contact with young people will be required to complete the Disclosure and Barring Scheme Application process administered by the BRFC Safeguarding Officer through the appropriate RFU Welfare organisation. No adult will be allowed to work unsupervised within BRFC Mini and Youth Section until the BRFC Safeguarding Officer has received details of the Disclosure Certificate. All Disclosure Certificates must be renewed on a 3 yearly basis, in line with current legislation. Any adult who already holds a DBS certificate either for work or in association for another sport will be required to complete an RFU DBS Application form. It is RFU/RFUW Policy that all adults who have contact with young people must hold a valid RFU DBS Certificate.
Training BRFC Mini and Youth Section will ensure that all adults have available to them the opportunity to attend any training courses which will develop and enable them to recognise their responsibilities with regard to their own good practice and the reporting of poor practice or concerns of possible abuse. It is vital that all coaches and administrative staff of BRFC Mini and Youth Section are conversant with player centred techniques and how to work with young people safely and effectively.
BRFC Mini and Youth Section follows the training syllabus recommended by the RFU.
Monitoring and appraisal
To enable the Mini and Youth Section coaches and administrative staff access to the appropriate training, the training matrix within the RFU supplied Safeguarding Officer Handbook will be used as a guideline. The Rugby Development Officer will also be contacted at regular intervals to ensure the inclusion of BRFC Mini and Youth Section members on any appropriate training courses or workshops.
It is the aim of BRFC to ensure that all young people enjoy the game in a safe and enjoyable setting. Set out in this section is the good practice procedures that are to be followed by all associated with BRFC:
BRFC will develop and monitor a number of Codes of Conduct to ensure that all children and young people and the individuals who work with them within the rugby setting will enjoy the game in a safe environment. While working with children and young people all BRFC Mini and Youth Section Coaches and Administrative staff will adopt and follow the guidance set out in the Codes of Conduct which form part of this policy.
To assist coaches and administrative staff who encounter challenging behaviour from a young person the RFU guidance on how to promote good practice and to encourage a proactive response to supporting children to manage their own behaviour can be viewed here.
Poor practice is defined as any behaviour which contravenes the RFU/RFUW Codes of Conduct (Fair Play Codes) or RFU/RFUW Guidelines for Good Practice.
Once an incident is reported to the Club Safeguarding Officer they are to consult with the RFU Safeguarding Team in order to ascertain whether the allegation is to be investigated/dealt with as poor practice, bullying or abuse.
Once the incident has been identified by the RFU as poor practice and, in consultation with BRFC club officials (Senior Section Chairman, Head of Mini and Youth Section and Honorary Secretary), a decision will be made whether or not to suspend, temporally, the person accused. Each case will be considered on its merits.
A disciplinary hearing may be called. The panel will be made up of club members with regard to the following criteria:
No person who has been involved in bringing the case to the disciplinary hearing should sit on the panel.
Both the Senior and Mini and Youth sections will be represented.
As the case relates to poor coaching practice then a suitably qualified coach with practical experience must be included on the panel.
The CB Safeguarding Manager should also be invited to attend.
The accused will be advised of receipt of the report and provided with copies of the report and any witness statements.
The accused will be invited to attend the hearing, which must be convened at a mutually agreed time.
The accused must be given sufficient advanced notification of the hearing.
Once the disciplinary panel has reaches a decision it should be communicated to the accused and confirmed in writing and to the parents/guardians of the young person.
A copy of the findings must be sent to the CB Safeguarding Manager and the RFU Safeguarding Team.
Possible outcomes of a disciplinary hearing
A Disciplinary Hearing convened by BRFC will have the following powers:
Mandate that the accused can only coach under the supervision of another coach.
Request attendance at the RFU/RFUW Safeguarding and Protecting Young People Course.
Mandate the coach/accused attends the appropriate RFU/RFUW Coaching courses.