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Child Protection


The Stockport RUFC Child/Young Player Protection Policy and Codes of Conduct was adopted by the Stockport RUFC Mini/Junior Section at a meeting on 7th February 2000.

It was written at the behest of the Rugby Football Union, who have written to all member clubs inviting them to formulate and implement their own Policy, along suggested lines.

This Policy is wholly influenced by, and, in large measure, draws directly from, the R.F.U. Child/Young Player Protection Policy published in 1998.

1. Stockport R.U.F.C. will maintain and uphold a Child and Young Player Protection policy in accordance with the RFU/RFUW Policy on Child Protection and ensure that all persons working with children and young people within the club are fully conversant with it and abide by it. At Stockport RUFC we believe that taking part in sport should be a positive and enjoyable part of children's lives and aim to ensure that they are protected and kept safe from physical, emotional and sexual harm whilst they are with the club's coaches, helpers and other volunteers. The Policy will be available for inspection upon reasonable demand.
The S.R.U.F.C. Child and Young Player Protection policy will
i) offer safeguards to the children and young people with which we work and to our professional members of staff, coaches and club members,
ii) help maintain professionalism and safeguard good practice.
3. Stockport Rugby Club recognises that it has a moral obligation to ensure that when given responsibility for children and young people it provides them with the highest possible standard of care and treats their welfare as paramount.
4. Stockport Rugby Club recognises that all young players, whatever their age, culture, disability, language, racial origin, religious belief and/or sexual identity have the right to protection from abuse. The club's staff, members, coaches and voluntary helpers will strive to safeguard and promote the interests and well-being of children /young people with whom they are working, take all reasonable steps to protect them from harm, discrimination or degrading treatment and respect their rights wishes and feelings, treating everyone with dignity and equality.
5. Stockport Rugby Club will follow specific guidelines when recruiting coaches and helpers and ensure that the requisite checks are carried out.
6. Stockport Rugby Club will issue its coaches/helpers with a Code of Conduct and expect them to abide by it. The Club will encourage and help coaches to stay up to date with rugby coaching and child protection issues. The Club will expect all coaches to hold current RFU coaching awards and insist upon a coach having, as a minimum requirement, the START Coaching Rugby Union or Preliminary Award level, in order to be the head coach of an age group.
7. Stockport Rugby club will ensure that all suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
8. The Club will ensure that a formal procedure is in place for dealing with allegations of poor practice or abuse. The Club will appoint a person (Child Protection Officer) whose role it will be to deal with any concerns about physical emotional or sexual abuse.
9. As a club, we will promote fair play and always play within the spirit of the laws and the letter of the Continuum.

Coaches Code Of Conduct - Good Practice

1. Teach your players the meaning of 'fair play' and set them a good example.
2. Teach players, by your own example, to respect the referee. Always.
3. Read the Continuum. Understand it and abide by it. There is no option. It is part of the Laws of the Game.
4. Learn the Laws and learn to referee.
5. Always promote positive aspects of the sport (e.g. fair play) and never condone violence or the use of prohibited substances.
6. Don't over emphasise the 'winning ethic'. Recognise that as soon as victory becomes more important than the players taking part, then abuse begins.
7. Recognise that rugby is only a part of players' lives and allow for it in your demands of them. Remember that children play for fun and enjoyment and winning is only part of it.
8. Don't overplay players (particularly talented ones)
9. Never ridicule or belittle any player. Never make any player feel like a 'spare part' Try to make every player feel valued. Try to share game time, and your time in practice sessions, equally.
10. Ensure activities which you direct or advocate are appropriate to age, maturity and ability of players. Keep in mind the physical, intellectual and emotional capabilities of the age group you work with.
11. Ensure that contact skills are taught in a safe and secure manner, paying due regard to the physical development of young players.
12. Always record, and act on, any allegations made by any player.

Coaches Code Of Conduct - Safeguards

1.Do not drink alcohol before you coach or while you are coaching.
2.Do not smoke while you are coaching.
3.You are responsible for the safety of the players you work with.

i) You keep up to date on coaching issues, Rugby issues, Safety issues.
ii) Mark out a safe working area. Ensure it is free from items such as glass /stones /twigs /dog dirt and other items which may cause injury.
iii) Do not play or train if the weather has made the working area unsafe.
iv) Make sure equipment is in good repair and safe.
v) Take care with joining in contact drills and games. Remember your size and consider how easily you could injure your player.
vii) Do not encourage players to play when injured or unwell. Recommend they see their doctor or a sports injury clinic.

4.Do not put yourself in a position where you could be suspected of, or accused of, physical or sexual abuse of any child associated within the club.
i)If you change - use a separate changing room from the player
ii)Never allow yourself to be alone with individuals behind closed doors or where you are completely unobserved
iii)Don't take children alone on a car journey
iv)Don't take children alone to your home
v)Don't bathe or shower with the children
vi)Don't agree to meet a player on your own outside the context of the normal coaching/mentoring process

5.When supervising children in changing rooms ensure adults work in pairs and that gender is appropriate. Explain the need for this to your players' parents and encourage them to participate.

6.Do not permit inappropriate physical contact.

7. Do not use unacceptable language or allow your players to use it unchallenged.

Club Guideline for Recruiting Coaches/Helpers
1.All present coaches/helpers and new applicants to complete an application form
that will
a)Find out about their past career
b)Ascertain if they have a criminal record
2.Supply 2 written references which must be followed up.
3.All information to be kept confidential.
4.All completed application forms and reference forms to be stored carefully for future reference.
5.Every applicant is to be made aware of the club's attitude to the protection of children from abuse and to receive a copy of the club's Child Protection policy and coaches code of conduct.

a)To be familiar with the RFU/RFUW Policy Document.
b)To attend the National Coaching Foundation (NCF) Child Protection Course Module (3 hours duration).
c)To ensure that all adults wishing to supervise Mini/Junior rugby complete the appropriate form (Appendix II in the Policy Document).
d)To ensure that all parents and coaches are given a copy of the UR Safe in RU leaflet.
e)To produce your Club 'Coaches' Code of Conduct' (see Appendix V in the Policy Document).
f)IN THE EVENT OF ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE, the Person in Charge must

follow the guidelines laid down in the RFU/RFUW Policy Document.

The Main Forms Of Abuse
Abuse is a powerful and emotive term. Child abuse is a term used to describe ways in which children are harmed, usually by adults and often by those they know and trust. The coach often holds this trust and may be at risk of misusing his/her power over the young players. It is widely recognised that there are four main areas of abuse of which coaches and volunteers should be aware. There may, however, be an increased risk within many sports, including Rugby Union, for abuse to occur which does not necessarily fit into these categories. The unique culture and traditions of Rugby, along with so-called stereotypical behaviour, whilst common to many team sports, may give rise to unacceptable behaviour leading to situations where abuse may occur or coaches and/or young players are at increased risk.

The main types of abuse are:

Emotional Abuse
In general terms, emotional abuse occurs when adults 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
- 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 emphasis 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.

Physical Abuse
In general terms, this occurs when adults, or even children, deliberately inflict injuries on a child, or knowingly do not prevent such 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.

Sexual Abuse

In general terms, girls and boys are abused by adults, both male and female, who use children to meet their own sexual needs. Examples include forcing a child to take part in sexual activity such as sexual intercourse, oral intercourse, masturbation, or oral sex. Showing children pornographic material or making suggestions that sexual favours can help (or refusal hinder) a sporting career.

Abuse Taking Place Within The Rugby Environment
This would include anyone working with children in a paid or voluntary capacity. For example, volunteer coaches in clubs, club helpers, tutors on training camps and coaches.
Child abuse can and does occur outside the family setting. Although it is a sensitive and difficult issue, child abuse has occurred within institutions and within other settings, for example, sport or other social activities. Recent research indicates that abuse which takes place in a public setting, is rarely a one-off event. It is crucial that those involved in sport are aware of this possibility and that all allegations are taken seriously and appropriate action pursued.
The Person in Charge may be informed of situations where the reporter is unsure about whether the allegation constitutes abuse or not, and is therefore unclear about what action to take. There may be circumstances where allegations are about poor practice rather than abuse but those responsible should always consult with professional RFU/RFUW staff, and seek advice from Social Services, or the NSPCC where there is any doubt.
This is because it may be just one of a series of other instances which taken together cause concern. It is acknowledged that feelings generated by the discovery that a member of staff or volunteer is, or may be, abusing a child, will raise concerns among other staff or volunteers, including the difficulties inherent in reporting such matters. However, it is important that any concerns for the welfare of the child arising from abuse or harassment by a member of staff or volunteer should be reported immediately. The members of the RFU and RFUW want to assure all staff, coaches and volunteers that they 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.

Allegations Of Abuse Against Professional Members Of Staff, Coaches And Volunteers
Where there is a complaint of abuse against a member of staff, coach or volunteer, there may be one of three types of investigation:
1) A disciplinary or misconduct investigation
2) A child protection investigation
3) A criminal investigation
The results of the Police and Social Services investigation may well influence the disciplinary investigation.

Stockport R.U.F.C. Child and Young Player Protection Policy:
What To Do If You Have Concerns About The Behaviour of A Member Of Staff, Coach Or Volunteer
Dealt With As An Internal Club Issue
RFU/RFUW Decide who will handle any media enquiries

If an allegation is brought to your attention:
STAY CALM- do not rush into inappropriate action.
REASSURE THECHILD- that they are not to blame and confirm that you know how difficult it must be to confide.
LISTEN- to what the child says and show that you have taken him/her seriously.
ALLOW ONLY ONE ADULT TO TALKTO THE CHILD- as any discrepancies in statements may lead to legal problems.
ENSURE THAT YOU CLEARLY UNDERSTAND WHAT THE CHILD HAS SAID-and record it - so that you can pass it on to the appropriate agencies.
CONSULT WITH YOUR IDENTIFIED CHILD PROTECTION PERSON- ensuring that you communicate all the information accurately.
FOLLOW GUIDELINES-relating to confidentiality.

DO NOT QUESTION THECHILD. The law is very strict and child abuse cases have been dismissed if it appears that the child has been led or words and ideas have been suggested.
DO NOT MAKE PROMISES YOU CAN'T KEEP- explain that you may have to tell other people in order to stop what is happening whilst maintaining maximum possible confidentiality.
DO NOT DELAY- the reporting procedure.

Abuse Taking Place Outside The Rugby Environment
You may be aware of abuse in a number of ways:

• A child may tell you
• A third party may have reported an incident, or may have a strong suspicion
• You may have the suspicion
Indications of Abuse
Abuse in all its forms can affect a child at any age. The effects can be so damaging that, if not treated, they may follow an individual into adulthood. For example, an adult who has been abused as a child may find it difficult, or impossible, to maintain a stable, trusting relationship, may become involved with drugs or prostitution; may attempt suicide, or may abuse a child in the future.
There have been a number of studies suggesting disabled young people face an increased risk of abuse through various factors such as stereo-typing, prejudice, isolation, or an inability to communicate. Children from ethnic minorities, who may be experiencing racial discrimination may be similarly powerless.
Dealing with child abuse is rarely straightforward. In some cases a child's disturbed behaviour, or an injury, may suggest that the child has been abused. In many situations however, the signs will not be clear cut and decisions about what actions to take can be difficult. The signs and indicators in the following list are not exhaustive, and the presence of one or more indicators is not proof that abuse is actually taking place.

Signs and Indicators for Coaches, Staff or Volunteers to be Aware of
• An injury for which the explanation seems inconsistent.
• The child describes what appears to be an abusive act involving him/her.
• Someone else, a child or adult, expresses concern about the welfare of another child.
• Unexplained changes in behaviour, for example becoming very quiet, withdrawn or displaying sudden uncharacteristic outbursts of temper.
• Inappropriate sexual awareness.
• Sexually explicit behaviour.
• The child is distrustful of adults, particularly those with whom a close relationship will normally be expected.
• Has difficulty making friends.
• Is prevented from socialising with other children.
• Displays variations in eating patterns including overeating, loss of appetite.
• Becomes increasingly dirty or unkempt.
• Use of sexually explicit language inappropriate to the age of the child.
NB: It is not the responsibility of those working in Rugby Union to decide that abuse is occurring but is their responsibility to act on any concern.
Responding to Suspicions
It is understandable that people who are well-motivated, loving and caring individuals, with a deep commitment to their sport are reluctant to believe that children may be suffering harm in the sporting environment or at home.
It may be difficult to accept that children could be at risk because of the way the organisation is being run and the attitudes of those involved.
Levels of awareness need to be raised without creating an atmosphere of anxiety or suspicion. However, a basic principle should be that if you become aware of anything which causes you to feel uncomfortable you should talk to someone else about it. This means being aware of the attitudes of staff, coaches and volunteers and of the interaction between them and the children and with each other.

You should be alert to any unusual incidents or activities which take place where you feel that staff, coaches or volunteers are putting themselves in a vulnerable position.

What To Do if You Have Concerns About Child Abuse
Outside The Rugby Club Environment
Are you concerned about the behaviour of a person outside the rugby club
If Yes
Report your concerns to the person in charge
If no person in charge is available person discovering or being told of abuse should refer concerns immediately to Social Services via the NSPCC Helpline 0800 800 500 or the Police or Local Social Services contact or duty social worker Social services and the person reporting concerns decide how to involve parents/carers. Record what the child has said, or what has been seen. Include dates times and if possible send a copy to the Social Services.