Child Protection Policy
• The welfare of the child is paramount; no guarantees of secrecy or confidentiality can be given to information regarding a child as the child’s welfare and safety supersedes all other considerations. Information should only be passed to individuals who are in appropriate positions to safeguard a child’s welfare and safety.
• Information regarding children and young people should therefore be managed in a respectful, professional and purposeful manner. Confidentiality must be a priority for all persons involved in suspected poor practice, or the subject of a concern or an allegation of abuse within a Club or Swim Ireland. The rights of both the child and the person about whom information has been obtained or where a complaint or allegation has been made should be protected with consideration given to the following points:
• Information is disclosed on a need to know basis, with care and sensitivity – this means that there will be certain people that need to know information about a child in order to provide a safe and secure environment. This includes passing information about poor practice and/or an allegation of abuse to the appropriate persons in order to deal with the matter, e.g. children’s officer, designated person, complaints committee, statutory authorities. Information should not be disclosed to any individual who does not need to be involved.
• The parent/guardian must be given any information relating to their child unless to do so would endanger the child. In cases of an allegation or disclosure of abuse this information should be passed on to a parent/guardian by the statutory authorities. Advice should be taken from the statutory authorities if there is any concern. Passing information to individuals on a need to know basis for the purposes of protecting a child is necessary to safeguard the child’s welfare. Passing on any information concerning complaints, allegations of abuse, personal or other details related to any other person is a breach of confidentiality and would be considered a disciplinary offence – e.g. where a complaint involves a child only the persons relevant to dealing with the complaint need be given details; in this example these persons would include the complaints committee, children’s officer, parties involved in the complaint.
• Club Children’s Officers and the Designated Person, as with any person involved with children within Swim Ireland, are bound by confidentiality. However due to the nature of the role of CCO’s and DP’s they may be in possession of more information pertaining to a child and this should be viewed as a resource in order to determine the well-being of any child. It is important that all information relating to any child at risk is passed on to the appropriate authorities.
CORE VALUES IN SPORT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
• A young person’s experience of sport should be guided by what is best for the young person. The stage of development and the ability of the young person should guide the type of activity provided within a club environment. Adults will need to have a basic understanding of the needs of young people, including their physical, emotional and personal needs. Sport gives young people an opportunity to be part of a team and to learn and develop skills; the sporting environment should be regarded by children as a safe place.
INTEGRITY IN RELATIONSHIPS
• Any adult interacting with young people in sport should do so with integrity and respect. An adult is in a position of trust and influence. Their actions in sport should be guided by what is best for the child and carried out in the context of respectful and open relationships. Physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect and use of the position of trust to exploit or undermine children are unacceptable.
QUALITY ATMOSPHERE AND ETHOS
• Sport for young people should be fun, and be conducted in a safe, challenging and encouraging atmosphere.
Adults should ensure a child-centred ethos that recognises that standards of behaviour are as important as standards for performance.
• All children’s sport should be conducted in an atmosphere of fair play. Ireland and Northern Ireland have contributed to and are committed to the European Code of Sports Ethics, which defines fair play as: “much more than playing within the rules. It incorporates the concepts of friendship, respect for others and always playing with the right spirit. Fair play is defined as a way of thinking, not just a way of behaving.
• It incorporates issues concerned with the elimination of cheating, gamesmanship, doping, violence (both physical and verbal), exploitation, unequal opportunities, excessive commercialisation and corruption.” (European Sports Charter and Code of Ethics, Council of Europe, 1993)The importance of participation, best effort and enjoyment should be stressed. Encouragement for children to win should emphasise the necessity for this to be in an open and fair manner. Behaviour which constitutes cheating must be discouraged.
• All children should be treated in an equitable and fair manner regardless of age, ability, sex, religion, social and ethnic background or political persuasion.
Children with disability should be involved in sports activities in an integrated way, thus allowing them to participate to their potential alongside other children.
TRAINING AND COMPETITION
• Competition and specialisation should be in response to a young person’s age, ability and development and not the central ethos. A balanced approach to training and competition can make a significant contribution to the development of a young person, while at the same time providing fun, enjoyment and satisfaction. Too often demands are placed on children too early, which results in excessive levels of pressure on them. This can contribute to a high level of drop out from sport.
• Leaders should aim to put the welfare of the child first and competitive standards second.
• Adults need to find the balance between the child’s desire to win and the right to participate irrespective of ability.