Rugby Football Club


RFU Guidance for Dealing with Challenging Behaviour

Staff/volunteers who deliver sports activities to children may, on occasions, be required to deal with a child’s challenging behaviour.

These guidelines aim to promote good practice and to encourage a proactive response to supporting children to manage their own behaviour. They suggest some strategies and sanctions which can be used and also identify unacceptable sanctions or interventions which must never be used by staff or volunteers.

Autism, Aspergers, Dyspraxia, ADD and ADHD are being more widely recognised and diagnosed and it is increasingly possible that as a club we will have children affected by one or more amongst our players and/or members. Being diagnosed with one ofor more of these conditions should not be seen as a bar to playing rugby and indeed competitive sports can often improve a child’s behaviour.

As a club we should do everything possible for children with these conditions to be able to play rugby; listening to the parents and learning from their experience is an important part of this.

The guidelines will also include the views and suggestions of children. These guidelines are based on the following principles:

Planning Activities

Good coaching practice requires planning sessions around the group as a whole but also involves taking into consideration the needs of each individual athlete within that group. As part of session planning, coaches should consider whether any members of the group have presented in the past or are likely to present any difficulties in relation to the tasks involved, the other participants or the environment.

Where staff/volunteers identify potential risks, strategies to manage those risks should be agreed in advance of the session, event or activity. The planning should also identify the appropriate number of adults required to safely manage and support the session including being able to adequately respond to any challenging behaviour and to safeguard other members of the group and the staff/ volunteers involved.

When children are identified as having additional needs or behaviours that are likely to require additional supervision, specialist expertise or support, this should be discussed with parents/carers and where appropriate young people. The club should seek to work in partnership with parents/carers, and where necessary external agencies, to ensure that a child or young person can be supported to participate safely.

Agreeing Acceptable and Unacceptable Behaviours

Staff, volunteers, children, young people and parents/carers should be involved in developing an agreed statement of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviour (code of conduct) and the range of sanctions which may be applied in response to unacceptable behaviour. This can be done at the start of the season, in advance of a trip away from home or as part of a welcome session at a residential camp.

Issues of behaviour and control should regularly be discussed with staff, volunteers, parents and children in the context of rights and responsibilities. When children are specifically asked, as a group, to draw up a code of conduct that will govern their participation in club activities, experience indicates that they tend to arrive at a very sensible and working set of ’rules’ with greater ’buy-in’ from participants than those simply imposed by adults within the club. If and when such a code is compiled, every member of the group can be asked to sign it, as can new members as they join.

Managing Challenging Behaviour

In responding to challenging behaviour the response should always be proportionate to the actions, be imposed as soon as is practicable and be fully explained to the child and their parents/carers. In dealing with children who display negative or challenging behaviours, staff and volunteers might consider the following options:

The following should never be permitted as a means of managing a child’s behaviour:

Staff and volunteers should review the needs of any child for whom sanctions are frequently necessary. This review should involve the child, parents/carers and in some cases others involved in supporting or providing services for the child and his/her family, to ensure an informed decision is made about the child’s future or continued participation. As a last resort, if a child continues to present a high level of risk or danger to him or herself, or others, he or she may have to be suspended or barred from the group or club activities.

A policy for managing challenging behaviour

In conclusion, all organisations that have a duty of care to children and young people should develop and implement a policy and procedures on managing challenging behaviour or consider incorporating this into their child protection policy. It should clearly set out the following:

This document has been developed from “Creating a Safe Environment in Sport, Scottish Governing Bodies Child Protection Guidelines” (SportScotland/ Children 1st).

Note: The key points set out in this document are included in the BRFC Child Protection Policy.

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