The All British Martial Arts Association
Child Protection Policies and Procedures
All sport Governing Bodies are required to revise their Child Protection Policies to make sure they are comprehensive and take into account the rules concerning Criminal Record Checks. The policies herein pertain to children and vulnerable adults. (See also the “Child Protection Policy and Procedures for CMAA” reference document held on file with this document).
Participation in any Martial Arts can and does provide valuable life experiences. Sporting activities offer significant opportunities for participants to develop social skills, self-esteem, confidence, teamwork and leadership qualities that develop a well-rounded individual. Despite all the benefits of participation, sport can provide easy access to children and present opportunities for an individual who wants to harm children. We accept that the welfare and safety of children and vulnerable adults is the responsibility of everyone involved in our organisation. Most children and vulnerable adults are well cared for and have happy and trusting relationships with adults. However, some less fortunate can be vulnerable to neglect or abuse, whether physical, emotional or sexual. The abuse may occur in the home, at school, in the park or in the sporting environment. It is known that some perpetrators of abuse may actively seek employment or voluntary work with children in order to harm them.
A Child Protection Policy should contain…
Measures to prevent abuse.
- A named Child Protection Officer and procedures for implementing the policy. See Appendix 1.
- Training material. The material used in the ABMAA Volunteer Data Pack is attached in Appendix 2.
- Opportunities for training. The ABMAA recommends that coaches obtain Coaching Qualification from a recognised National Governing Body (NGB), a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) or similar in their Martial Art or, as a minimum, attend the ABMAA Volunteer Data Meeting, which covers Child Protection.
- Appropriate qualifications for coaches regularly dealing with children. the ABMAA recommends that Coaches obtain a coaching qualification from a recognised NGB, an NVQ or similar.
- A code of ethics and behaviour for coaches. The specific part of the ABMAA Code of Ethics dealing with children is attached in Appendix 3.
- Access to information. The ABMAA will publish information on its web site and also provide information to all chief Instructors within the group. Personal information gathered will be stored and treated in accordance with the Data Protection rules and regulations.
- Criminal record checks. The ABMAA will apply to a Recognised Body to arrange these checks and will offer this service to all associations within the group. See Appendix 4 for details of the system for checking criminal records.
- Measures to respond to allegations / disclosures of abuse.
- A complaints procedure. See Appendix 5.
- A procedure for dealing with disclosures of abuse. See Appendix 5.
- Measures to review how the association is performing.
- Confidential records of allegations / disclosures and any action taken. Each Chief Instructor or a nominated, senior, person within that Association should keep this. It is important that the people keeping these records should have undergone a criminal record check themselves.
- Records of coaches, their qualifications and criminal record checks. As above an annual review takes place. This should be lead by the Chief Instructor of the Association or the nominated person, and formally recorded. Close attention to the Data Protection requirements shall be observed.
The aim of the Child Protection Policy is to promote good practice throughout the Association and its members. To protect and safeguard the safety and welfare of children training in its clubs including those clubs affiliated to the ABMAA. The Child Protection Co-ordinators / Officers for the ABMAA will be David Butlin and Phil Beniston.
The duties of the Child Protection Co-ordinator will be to
- Act as the Child Protection Officer for the ABMAA and provide training material and advice for all groups affiliated to the ABMAA.
- Encourage all those groups affiliated to appoint Child Protection Officers and implement the various procedures contained within this document.
- Provide Enhanced Criminal Record Disclosures on the request of the Chief Instructors.
Each Child Protection Officer should…
- Set up and hold a register of all instructors and assistant instructors including their qualifications and results of Criminal Records checks.
- Seek agreement from each instructor / assistant instructor for an Enhanced Criminal Record disclosure and pass this to the Child Protection Co-ordinator for processing.
- Deal appropriately with the results of Disclosure ensuring confidentiality.
- Produce and distribute the policy and procedure for child protection throughout their group and provide training for members.
- Deal with enquiries and concerns raised about any child protection issue within their group.
- Liaise with relevant statutory / voluntary organisations such as the police, social services, NSPCC etc.
- Deal with and keep records of allegations or disclosures of child abuse.
- Keep the Child Protection Co-ordinator informed as necessary.
- Monitor and review the policy and procedure.
- Be fully aware of the rules governing data Protection.
The Coach’s responsibilities to children…
[UK law defines a child as less than 16 years old (or under 18 years of age if in full-time education)]
The responsibilities include…
An awareness of the legal Duty of Care, which is biased towards children rather than adults.
To follow the guidelines offered by National Governing Bodies and / or Associations and ensure that they are qualified to provide the services they offer. To safeguard children from all forms of abuse.
To follow guidelines of good practice to reduce the possibility of allegations of inappropriate behaviour to children.
To warn participants thoroughly, repeatedly and clearly of the inherent risks of the activity.
To carry adequate and appropriate insurance cover.
To be aware of and use strategies to prevent injury to children.
To protect the confidentiality of all parties involved.
What is child abuse…?
- Maltreatment or neglect of a child resulting in injury or harm, as follows…
- Physical shaking, beating, burning or failure to provide the necessities of life (e.g. food). This could also include the nature and intensity of training if it exceeds the child’s capacity.
- Verbal belittling, excessive shouting or teasing.
- Emotional failure to provide warmth, attention, supervision or normal living experiences.
- Subjecting children to unreasonable expectations for performance.
- Incest or other indecent sexual activity.
- Involving the child in pornography, either as an observer or as a participant.
- It can happen anywhere – there are no specific “types” of background or people and it happens often – there are more than 5,000 cases of abuse reported each year.
Recognising child abuse…
It is not easy to recognise / identify abuse. No one sign will indicate that it is occurring. There are some general guidelines, but even these are not 100% certain.
If you think that a child is being abused – get advice quickly.
Abuse could produce any of these types of behaviour…
Sudden mood changes, self-mutilation, regression (baby-like behaviour), over compliance, aggression, difficulties in mixing / playing with other children.
It could be Physical…
- Showing injuries such as bruising, scratching, burns, fractures with a dubious explanation.
- Signs of neglect for example failing to provide sufficient food, clothing, health and hygiene.
Involving disapproval, threats or humiliation.
Leading to Injuries in genital / rectal areas, itching, soreness, and difficulty in walking, recurrent stomach-ache, headaches, fainting and / or high levels of sexual references in speech.
As you can see, at least things other than abuse could cause some of these signs.
There are some points to remember…
Bruising is a difficult area. All active children get bruises in the course of normal movement or play. Grabbing or striking bruises to the arms a body are different to those from general childhood “knocks” to shins and arms. But, most children who are seriously injured or die have recurrent bruising often for months or years. Bruises are present in 9 out of 10 cases of physical injury.
10% of abused children have had burns and many have had multiple burns.
Falls down stairs or out of bed very rarely cause fractures. Accidental fractures rarely involve the skull and are usually single line fractures of long bones.
Racial Discrimination and Equality…
It is possible that people from any racial group may experience harassment, discrimination and institutional racism. Although racism clearly causes harm, it is not itself a category of abuse. However, it may be considered emotional abuse and racism is illegal. Seethe ABMAA Equity Policy.
People with Special Needs (incl. Vulnerable Adults)…
People with special needs or impairment may be vulnerable to abuse or poor practice, as they may not be suitably able to express their concerns, protect themselves or understand what is happening. Instructors must be fully qualified to teach those in this environment where special needs are to be catered for, avoid discrimination against those with a disability and must be vigilant in caring for these vulnerable people.
The law on child abuse…
Mainly found within the Children Act 1989, which places a series of responsibilities on a range of people including the Courts and Local Authorities. It is most likely that any involvement that you have will be with a Local Authority.
Amongst the things they are required to do are…
- To safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need.
- To investigate where there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives, or is found in the area is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm.
Who is involved?
Local Authority Social Services have a statutory duty to investigate if…
- They have reason to suspect that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm.
- The child is subject to an emergency protection order.
- The child is in police protection.
- They can offer voluntary help and support to families and can apply for a range of protection orders, some of which could result in the child being taken into care.
- The Courts consider applications for protection orders.
- They can appoint a “Reporting Officer” who is not part of the Local Authority Social Services.
- Department to investigate and act as an independent adviser to the court to help it act in the child’s best interest.
- The Police have a responsibility to investigate criminal action, identify persons responsible and collect evidence for a prosecution. They must take the welfare of the child as a priority.
- Health Care Staff can be involved in identifying possible abuse. They are involved in the investigation, particularly where there has been physical or psychological injury.
- Schools are often involved in identifying abuse.
- Charitable Bodies like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) or CHILDLINE frequently receive reports of abuse from the public.
What should you do if you suspect abuse?
Decisions about whether to contact Social Services or any other Authority when the evidence of abuse is ambiguous or vague can be difficult. A range of people who are in contact with the child deal with allegations of child abuse. They might each have a partial view of what is happening to the child, but together a more complete picture can be obtained. Therefore even concerns about minor injuries may have an unexpected significance when combined with information from other people who might know the child.
If you have concerns you should discuss them with the nominated Child Protection Officer in your Association. He / she will advise you whether a report should be made to Social Services or another Body. When a child wants to confide in you, there are some important points to remember…
- Be accessible and receptive.
- Listen carefully and take it seriously.
- Reassure the child he/she is right to tell.
- Make careful records of what was said – as soon as possible after speaking to the child.
- Get help and advice quickly (advice is available from your Association’s nominated Child Protection Officer, the facility staff, the NSPCC Helpline 0800 800 500, or Child line 0800 1111).
- Don’t jump to conclusions, lead the child or try to push them into disclosing information.
- Don’t speculate or accuse anyone.
- Don’t make promises that you cannot keep.
- Don’t over react or show too much shock to the child.
- Do advise the child that you will need to speak to someone else about what they have said.
- The parent(s) or guardian(s) of a child have a right to know that an allegation of abuse has been made, someone else (probably Social Services but definitely not you) will advise them if they decide to investigate.
Parents should understand the need for an investigation if concerns are raised especially when they realise that the referral was motivated by genuine concern for a child. There are no easy solutions when dealing with child abuse.
Inevitably, some concerns will prove to be unfounded and so make the people concerned angry and distressed. Obviously discretion is a major factor when dealing with these or any similar allegations. The consequences of not reporting your concerns could be serious. Your concerns / observations may play a role in protecting a child from further harm, possibly starting a professional response that is better placed to establish whether or not a child is at risk (see below). This may lead to legal action to protect a child. Failure to report your concerns may mean a child is further abused.
What may happen if you make a report?
If you do report your concerns to Social Services or a similar agency, and they decide to investigate, you may be asked to attend a “case conference” to consider the available evidence from all parties. Where upon these qualified people, also involved with the child (e.g. teachers), will discuss whether there is a case to answer. They will make a decision as to what to do next.
Preventing accusations of improper behaviour against the coach.
- Welcome and encourage parents to stay and watch their children being taught.
- Avoid situations where you are alone with one or more children.
- Keep doors open when working in an enclosed environment.
- Arrange to meet children with parents present.
- Exercise extreme caution where physical contact with a child is needed.
- Personally take part in rough or physical games with children.
- Allow or engage in inappropriate touching of a child.
- Allow children to use inappropriate language.
- Let allegations made by a child go unchallenged or unrecorded.
- Do things of a personal nature for children (e.g. take them to the toilet, dress them, etc).
All people, irrespective of age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious belief and / or sexual identity have the right to protection from abuse.
The coaches should…
- Ensure that they take the additional responsibilities and duties involved in teaching children into account at all times.
- Be aware of the association’s policies on coaching children and the reporting of concerns about abuse.
- Report any concerns about abuse to the Association’s nominated Child Protection Officer.
- Treat reports of abuse seriously and report them promptly in line with the Association’s procedures.
- Maintain confidentiality in line with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998.
- Understand the added responsibilities of teaching children and also the basic principles of growth and development through childhood to adolescence.
- Ensure that they maintain professional and occupational competence in the areas of child protection and coaching children.
- Ensure that the rights and wishes of young people are respected at all times during their training.
- Ensure that a suitable student / instructor ratio is in place having regard to the risks assessed for each class.
- Report any illnesses / injuries during the session to the parent / guardian as soon as possible.
- Have a procedure for the delivery and collection of children and make sure that parents are aware of it.
- Children should not be left in the training area on their own before a class, and should not go home alone without the express permission of the parent / guardian
- Have arrangements to deal with late collection of children that do not involve personally taking them home.
- Use physical contact and discipline in an appropriate manner.
- Ensure that physical contact between children e.g. sparring is closely controlled to minimise the possibility of an injury occurring.
- Be aware of the law and the Association guidelines concerning sexual activity between adults and young people.
- Discuss the particular needs of any children with their parents / guardians to produce the most appropriate way of dealing with them
- Be responsible for setting and monitoring the boundaries between a working relationship and friendship with their participants. This is particularly important when the participant is a young person. The coach must realise that certain situations, words or actions may be able to be misinterpreted by the child or others and could lead to allegations of misconduct or impropriety.
The **** should…
- Accept the moral and legal duties involved in dealing with young people.
- Make every effort to ensure that children are taught in an appropriate manner.
- Make every effort to ensure that coaches and others in contact with children have received appropriate
- training, hold the relevant qualifications and have been subject to criminal record checks to ensure their
- Have in place, and regularly review, a procedure for dealing with concerns / allegations of abuse.
- Provide a Code of Conduct / Ethics, which specifically mentions the additional duties, required when dealing with children.
- Require its coaches, and others involved, complying with its Code of Ethics and Child Protection Policy.
The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) has recently made a new version of the checking service available to employers and voluntary bodies. The ABMAA strongly recommends that Associations request checks on all coaches and others having contact with children in the Association.
There are three types of check…
Basic disclosure (Police National Computer (PNC))… This is available to any member of the public to apply for directly. It shows all convictions “on record”, cautions, reprimands and warnings, and is sent directly to the individual applying.
Standard disclosure…This needs to be dealt with by an Approved Body. It shows all convictions “on record”, cautions, reprimands and warnings plus information contained on Government lists of people considered unsuitable to work with children.
Enhanced disclosure…This needs to be dealt with by an Approved body. As per Standard disclosure, but also containing police comments that will not be available to the individual. These could be details of impending arrest or child protection conference information.
Each individual must give consent before a disclosure can be requested. They will also receive copies of the Standard and Enhanced Disclosures so that there is an opportunity to challenge any details within them.
Government guidelines suggest that the Enhanced Disclosure is appropriate for Martial Arts Coaches.
It is not the responsibility of any ABMAA Instructor to decide whether or not child abuse is taking place. There is, however, a responsibility to protect children in order that appropriate agencies can then make inquiries and take any necessary action to protect the child.
Local authority social services departments have a statutory duty under the Children Act 1989 to ensure the welfare of a child. When a child protection referral is made, social services staff shall have a legal responsibility to investigate. This may involve talking to the child and family and gathering information from other people who know the child. Inquiries may be carried out jointly with the police.
If a complaint or allegation of child abuse is made against a member of the ABMAA, the following action should be taken;
- A report by the parent / guardian or co-worker should be made to the Association Chief Instructor or Child Protection Officer. If the complaint is about one of these people, it should be made to the other.
- The Chief Instructor / Child Protection Officer will then contact the local social services or other organisation – NSPCC / CHILDLINE and discuss the complaint with them.
- Under no circumstances should the Chief Instructor / Child Protection Officer try to deal with the matter personally.
- The ABMAA will take an immediate decision (using its disciplinary procedure) as to whether the instructor / Assistant Instructor should be suspended.
- Every effort will be made to protect the confidentiality of all parties involved.
- Allegations of abuse may be made some period of time after the event. For example, by an adult who was abused as a child by a member of staff who is still currently working with children? Where such an allegation is made, the ABMAA Child Welfare Officer should follow the procedures given above and report the matter to the social services department or the police.
- The Association’s disciplinary procedure should be used to decide upon reinstatement or expulsion. It may be appropriate to wait for the results of any social services and police investigations.
- The *** National Governing Body shall be informed of the incident and any resultant action (in accordance with their procedures).
- Disclosure by a participant:
If a child wishes to disclose abuse to you, this should be dealt with promptly and sensitively as detailed in Appendix 2 of this document.