1.0 Purpose and Scope
1.1 Statement of Purpose and Intent
Coolmine Sports Centre Child Protection Policy aims to ensure that the safety and welfare of children is at the core of activities, attitudes and behaviours in the centre. The Policy shall assist and enable Coolmine Sports Centre and its Staff in ensuring that every child, young person or vulnerable adult involved in activities is treated with respect and dignity, and is protected from all forms of abuse. Furthermore it aims to:
- Create a healthy and safe environment at all lessons, programmes and activity camps.
- Ensure that children are listened to and kept safe from harm.
- Support and encourage parents to voice their opinions regarding the welfare of their children.
- Raise staff and volunteer levels of awareness about child abuse and its various forms.
- Ensure that all staff are able to recognise the signs of child abuse.
- Develop effective procedures in responding to, recording and reporting complaints of alleged or suspected incidents of abuse.
Coolmine Sports Centre undertakes to adhere to the framework provided by the Child Care Act (1991) and the Children First Act (2015) as detailed, along with best practice, in the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2017). We also recognise industry guidelines including The Irish Sports Council ‘Code of Ethics & Good Practice for Children’s Sport (2000)’, Swim Ireland ‘Safeguarding Children Policies and Procedures (2010)’ and Gymnastics Ireland ‘Code of Ethics’.
Coolmine Sports Centre Child Protection Policy applies to the following:
- Sports Centre staff, full time, part time and volunteers.
- Students attending for work placement or work experience
- All participants in activities relating to groups, clubs or other organisations that may rent or pay for the use of any facilities at Coolmine Sports Centre
- Members and non-members who use the pool, Fitness centre & Jacuzzi suite or attend fitness classes and Sportspark
It is recognised in Coolmine Sports Centre that all staff have a duty of care and responsibility to ensure the safety and protection of children from all forms of abuse. It is also recognised that there is a large volume of children who use the facilities both in our programmes and also clubs and groups who rent or pay for use of the facilities.
The Child Protection Officer is the title given to the person appointed by Coolmine Sports Centre to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children attending Coolmine Sports Centre Sports Centre.
The Child Protection Officer for Coolmine Sports Centre is Tom Moore. He can be contacted on (01) 8214 549, or via his personal mobile number available at reception. The Deputy Designated Person if Tom Moore is not available is Michael Phillips (01) 8214 549, or via his personal mobile number available at reception. You may also contact Tom or Michael @ CPO@coolminesports.com
The Child Protection Officer will ensure they do the following or, in their absence, that another member of the child protection team will do so:
- Report suspicions and allegations of child abuse to Tusla where there is a concern.
- Create and maintain links with Tusla and other relevant agencies and resource groups.
- Facilitate follow-up action.
- Advise on best practice and ensure Coolmine Sports Centre’s Child Protection Policy is implemented
- Organise and facilitate training and workshops on the guidelines for child protection.
- Types and Definitions of Child Abuse
In Ireland, by law, a child is defined as any person under the age of 18 who is not married. This applies to this and all policies relating to children in Coolmine School Sports Centre. All definitions below are taken directly from Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2017).
There are four main categories of abuse:
- Emotional Abuse
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
Neglect occurs when a child does not receive adequate care or supervision to the extent that the child is harmed physically or developmentally. It is generally defined in terms of an omission of care, where a child’s health, development or welfare is impaired by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, medical care, intellectual stimulation or supervision and safety. Emotional neglect may also lead to the child having attachment difficulties. The extent of the damage to the child’s health, development or welfare is influence by a range of factors.
4.2 Emotional Abuse
Emotional Abuse is the systematic emotional or psychological ill- treatment of the child as part of the overall relationship between a caregiver and a child. Once-off and occasional difficulties between a parent/carer and child are not considered emotional abuse. Abuse occurs when a child’s basic need for attention, affection, approval, consistency and security are not met, due to incapacity or indifference from their parent or caregiver. Emotional abuse can also occur when adults responsible for taking care of children are unaware of and unable (for a range of reasons) to meet their children’s emotional and developmental needs. Emotional abuse is not easy to recognise because the effects are not easily seen.
4.3 Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is when someone deliberately hurts a child physically or puts them at risk of being physically hurt. It may occur as a single incident or as a pattern of incidents. A reasonable concern exists where the child’s health and/or development is, may be, or has been damaged as a result of suspected physical abuse.
4.4 Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for his of her gratification or arousal, or for that of others. It includes the child being involved in sexual acts (masturbation, fondling, oral or penetrative sex) or exposing the child to sexual activity directly or through pornography.
5.1 Supervision and ratios
For the purposes of Health and Safety and Child Protection, Coolmine Sports Centre has a number of guidelines for supervision of children during activities.
Beginners and weak swimmers – Ratio Adult: Child 1:14
Improving swimmers – Ratio Adult: Child 1:16
For gymnastics we follow the below guidelines
5-12 years – Adult: Child 1:10
12 and up – Adult: Child 1:10
5.2 Activity Camp
Exact ratios will depend on factors such as the age and ability of the children as well as the activity at that time. As a general guide we aim for the following ratios and where possible with available staff we ensure there is a mixture of male and female staff assigned to each group.
Regardless of numbers there will be a minimum of two staff on each group.
Under 7s – Adult: Child 1:8
8-14 years – Adult: Child 1:12
During activity camps children will be supervised appropriately in the changing rooms and for the younger groups on toilet breaks.
Bullying is defined as repeated aggression – whether it is verbal, psychological or physical – that is conducted by an individual or group against others. It is behaviour that is intentionally aggravating and intimidating, and occurs mainly among children is social environments such as schools. It includes behaviours such as physical aggression, cyberbullying, damage to property, intimidation, isolation/exclusion, name calling, malicious gossip and extortion. Bullying can also take the form of abuse based on gender identity, sexual preference, race, ethnicity and religious factors. This can have a serious impact on a child’s self-esteem and self-worth.
Coolmine Sports Centre promotes and encourages a caring friendly safe environment for everyone where they can participate without bullying or fear of bullying. Accordingly, bullying in any form is completely unacceptable and not tolerated under any circumstances.
Coolmine Sports Centre provides all staff with guidelines on how to prevent or deal with bullying. In persistent or more serious cases the ‘bully’ will be refused further attendance at the centre. If the incident is deemed serious enough a referral may be made to Tusla.
Staff at Coolmine Sports centre and parents / carers can be alert for signs of bullying which can include but not be limited to:
- Reluctance to come to the centre or to join in activities once there
- Physical signs like bruising
iii. Stress caused illnesses e.g. headaches, stomach aches
- Fearful behaviour e.g. reluctance to go into the changing rooms after classes or while a particular person/group is there
- Having few friends or remaining withdrawn from the group
- Changes in behaviour including the child becoming withdrawn, moody, irritable or developing a stammer it is important to note that there may be other reasons for many of these.
5.4 Video recording and Photography
It is the policy at Coolmine Sports Centre that the taking of photographs or recording of videos is not permitted during normal daily activities, classes, courses and events.
There are occasions where, with written permission from the Manager, photography or filming may be permitted. In all circumstances photography or filming is forbidden in changing rooms, sauna and steam room, toilet areas and staff areas.
5.5 Supervision of children before, during and after programmes and activities.
All children remain the responsibility of their parents / guardians before during and after lessons in Coolmine Sports Centre. Parents are expected to stay on the premises while their children are attending our lessons.
The Management and Staff of Coolmine Sports Centre aim to ensure children feel they are in a safe, welcoming and focused environment where they can undertake challenging and enjoyable activities. We also want to make sure that children are protected and kept safe from harm while they are attending lessons in this organisation. Most importantly we recognise that children are here to have fun and learn new skills.
In accordance with industry guidelines (Swim Ireland & Irish Gymnastics) and best practice, it is the policy of Coolmine School Sports Centre that all children attending lessons remain the responsibility of their parent or guardian at all times.
Any relevant medical history, ailments or injuries your child has must be disclosed when enrolling. Coolmine School Sports Centre will not be held liable for instances which may occur where relevant information is not disclosed when enrolling.
Parents / guardians are also requested to adhere strictly to the policy for access and use of the changing rooms.
Parents are requested to bring children to the toilet prior to the start of class. In line with our pre-swim hygiene policy all children attending swimming lessons must shower before they enter the pool.
Parents are advised that no outdoor shoes are allowed on the pool bank and parents are asked to refrain from coming out onto the pool bank.
2. Activity Camps
Where children are booked to attend Coolmine Sports Centre Activity Camps, parents / guardians advised of the following:
- Children remain the responsibility of their parents until the start time of the activity camp they are attending.
- Parents must be on time to collect children from activity camps. Where lateness is unavoidable please contact the centre as early as possible to inform the staff.
5.6 Additional Policies and Procedures
In addition to the policies identified above there are a number of policies and procedures in place to support this Child Protection Policy
- Admission Policy (Public)
- Codes of Conduct
- Code of Behaviour for Staff
- Child Protection Policy Statement and Risk Assessment
- Activity Camp term and conditions and Code of Behaviour
- Gymnastics Coaches Assistance of Children
- Swimming teacher and Pool Helper Assistance of Children
6.1 Work Placement/Volunteers
Coolmine Sports Centre accommodates transition year and college work placement students at various times throughout the year. There are a number of guidelines that need to be followed in order to ensure the welfare of children who come into contact with students on placement.
- In line with the current legislations all staff and volunteers must be Garda vetted before commencing employment at Newpark School Sports Centre. The Act stipulates that a relevant organisation shall not permit any person to undertake relevant work or activities on behalf of the organisation, unless the organisation receives a vetting disclosure from the National Vetting Bureau in respect of that person. Garda vetting is conducted on behalf of registered organisations (Ireland Active) only and is not conducted for individual persons on a personal basis.
- The student will be assigned an overall supervisor who will organise duties and fill out any necessary documentation.
- Each day the student will be assigned one or more staff members to work with.
- At no time should a student be left alone to supervise any child/children. This includes being sent to clean changing facilities unsupervised.
- It is the responsibility of the student supervisor and the manager on duty to ensure the safety of all children who come into contact with the student, and to offer the student guidance in interacting and appropriate physical contact if necessary.
- Any concerns the student may have can be voiced to their supervisor who will pass on or put them in contact with the necessary person.
6.2 Induction and training
The recruitment and selection process is followed up by the relevant training:
- All staff are introduced to the Children’s Officers and their role is explained.
- Staff are given the child protection policy to read and are required to sign the NOP sheet, the Code of Behaviour for Staff and Volunteers and the Child Protection Statement (Overview). This is an annual requirement or more frequently if there are changes made.
- New staff members will be required to work with a designated employee as part of our mentoring programme, until they are felt to be competent in their new role.
- All new staff will be required to complete a Safeguarding Level 1 Course as soon as possible following employment.
6.3 Garda Clearance
All staff employed by Coolmine Sports Centre are required to complete Garda Vetting before they start employment and every 3 years once in employment.
Employees may have completed Garda Vetting previously but as the information is confidential this cannot be transferred from employer to employer. In line with the current legislations all staff and volunteers must be Garda vetted before commencing employment at Coolmine Sports Centre.
The current Act, The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 – 2016, stipulates that a relevant organisation shall not permit any person to undertake relevant work or activities on behalf of the organisation, unless the organisation receives a vetting disclosure from the National Vetting Bureau in respect of that person.
6.4 Procedures for Reporting for Staff
6.4.1 Responsibility to Report Suspected or Actual Abuse
You should always inform Tusla when you have reasonable ground for concern that a child may have been, is being or is at risk of being abused or neglected. It is not necessary for you to prove that abuse has occurred to report a concern to Tusla. All that is required is that you have reasonable grounds for concern.
It is Tusla’s role to assess concerns that are reported to it. If you report a concern you can be assured that your information will be carefully considered with any other information available a child protection assessment will be carried out where sufficient risk is identified.
Any employee, paid or unpaid, who has concerns for the safety or wellbeing of a child or young person in Coolmine Sports Centre has a responsibility and a duty of care to report their concerns to one of the Child Protection Officers. The CPO’s will follow the guidelines relating to reporting concerns or mandated reporting. Employees are also encouraged to seek advice from the CPO if they are unsure whether an incident or observation would indicate reasonable grounds for reporting. If there is an immediate risk to a young person, the staff member should contact An Garda Siochána. The CPO will consult with the young person’s parents or guardians in relation to the concern and the possibility of a report being made to Tusla, unless it is not in the best interests of the young person to do so.
6.4.2 What is reasonable grounds?
Reasonable grounds for a child protection or welfare concern include:
- Evidence, for example an injury or behaviour, that is consistent with abuse and is unlikely to have been caused in any other way
- Any concern about possible sexual abuse
- Consistent signs that a child is suffering from emotional or physical neglect
- A child saying or indicating by other means that he or she has been abused
- Admission or indication by an adult or child of an alleged abuse they committed
- An account from a person who saw the child being abused. A suspicion that is not supported by any objective indication of abuse or neglect would not constitute a reasonable suspicion or reasonable grounds for concern. However, these suspicions should be recorded or noted internally by the Child Protection Officer only, as future suspicions or reports may lead to a decision to make a report. Earlier suspicions may provide important information to Tusla. If there is any doubt, a report should be made to Tusla.
6.4.3 Dealing with a Disclosure
These are guidelines for how to react and what to do if a child discloses information of actual or suspected abuse to you. It is important to remember that the child has chosen you to tell because they trust you:
1) Be as calm and sensitive as possible. A negative reaction could cause the child to withdraw and refuse to tell anything more. Try to be aware of your body language and facial expression and keep both relaxed and neutral.
2) Be aware that disclosures can be very difficult for the child and they have taken a risk to tell you.
3) Remember, the child may initially be testing your reaction and may only fully open up over a period of time.
4) Listen to what the child has to say. Give them time to tell you as much as they are able. Do not pressurise the child, let the child talk rather than interviewing them.
5) Do not show signs of disgust, anger or disbelief
6) Be careful when asking questions. Use them to clarify information and avoid leading questions.
7) Assure the child that you believe them. False disclosures are rare from children.
8) Do not express anger or pass judgement on the alleged perpetrator as it is possible for the child to love the alleged abuser while also disliking what was done to them.
9) Reassure the child that they have done the right thing.
10) NEVER PROMISE TO KEEP SECRETS. If you do this then you are going to break your promise and lose the child’s trust. Be honest with the child. Tell him/her that sometimes it is not good to keep secrets and this secret has to be told if further harm or hurt is going to be prevented. At first the child may be annoyed or upset and refuse to disclose further information but it is still better to be honest then to lie and ruin the child’s confidence in yet another adult.
At the earliest possible opportunity:
- Record in writing what the child has told you using as far as possible their words.
- Inform the Children’s Officer so that they can begin to notify the appropriate authorities.
- Always maintain appropriate confidentiality.
- After disclosure it is important to maintain a positive and consistent relationship with the The child should be included in activities as before and treated in the same way.
- For help and information on how to go about writing a report or what to do next talk to the Child Protection Officer or Manager. If you do not feel comfortable talking to either of these people then contact Tusla for advice and support.
- Dealing with child abuse is difficult for the child but can also be difficult for the staff. Again, if staff need further support you should talk to your Manager, CPO or Staff Representative.
Following disclosure the CPO will review the criteria and see if the threshold for reporting has been met. If the threshold has been met or if there is any doubt the CPO will report it to Tusla as a reasonable concern under the Children First Guidance (2017). It is normal for the parents to be contacted to advise them of the disclosure, unless it is felt that this will endanger the child further. The parents will be told that Tusla will be contacted. Tusla will usually ask for a copy of the report form and any other documentation relating to the case. It is important to emphasise that the form should record fact, where possible in the child’s own words. It should not contain opinions or interpretations the staff member has made. Following this Tusla will make contact with the parents. The CPO should inform the parents of this so they know what to expect. This can be very upsetting for the parents who can be very angry or upset. It is advisable to have a second designated person present when the incident is being reported to document the meeting. In a situation where it is felt that the child is in immediate risk or danger it may be necessary to contact the Gardaí who will advise you of the best way to proceed. This will be done by the Children’s Officer or a member of management.
6.4.4 Sharing Information
When dealing with any case/suspicion/allegation relating to child abuse, you must be aware that any breaches in confidentiality can be very damaging to the child, family, the accused person and any child protection investigations, which may take place. Informing the parents of a child about whom you are concerned about will be handled in a sensitive way and only undertaken in consultation with Tusla. Depending upon the outcome of initial enquiries, Tusla will provide advice as to who should be told, when they should be told and the kind of information, which is appropriate to share. Anyone who receives information from colleagues about possible or actual child abuse must treat it as having been given in confidence.
6.4.5 Dealing with Allegations against Staff or a Volunteer
Should a member of staff become aware of an allegation (against a colleague) of an incident of child abuse taking, or having taken place, or have grounds for suspicion it is vital that the following procedures are followed:
- The reporting procedure in respect of suspected child abuse as detailed above should be followed by the CPO
- In addition, the procedure for dealing with the staff member against who the allegation has been made, should be carried out by the Manager.
6.4.6 Procedure for dealing with Staff
- The accused staff member has a right to be treated fairly and with respect.
- The issue of confidentiality is important in all cases but the rights of the staff member must also be considered.
- The staff member should be asked to refrain from attending work pending the outcome of the investigation. It should be made clear that this action is a precautionary measure only and will not impact any later disciplinary proceedings.
- In the event that the staff member is not found guilty or prosecuted this does not mean that they are appropriate to work with young people in the future.
The Manager will decide if internal disciplinary action is necessary in line with Coolmine Sports Centre’s SOP’s, policies and guidelines.
- Implementation of Child Protection Policy
Coolmine Sports Centre will ensure this Policy and other supporting Policies are implemented by the following steps and measures:
- Staff will be given notice of the Child Protection Policy and any subsequent changes.
- There is a copy of the policies available in reception for staff to access.
- All employees are aware of their responsibility to read new policies and keep up to date with changes.
- It is the practice of Coolmine Sports Centre to e-mail new policies and policy updates to all staff, and also display new or amended policies and procedures on the staff notice board for 4 weeks.
- Contact details for the Child Protection Officer, Staff Representative, local Garda stations and health board numbers are made available in reception.
- All new staff members are required to complete Garda Vetting prior to commencing employment and their agreed start date may be postponed until this has been obtained.
- The management of any incident will be discussed with involved staff to evaluate the success and effectiveness of procedures and introduce changes as needed. This will be done with due consideration for confidentiality.
- Any external group using the sports centre premises and facilities must have their own Child Protection Policy in place to be followed. They must identify their Designated Liaison Officer to us in case contact is needed. They must adhere to the guidelines of the booking agreement regarding the supervision of children in the centre (SOP).
If there is a conflict between the group’s policy and that of Coolmine Sports Centre, the Sports Centre Child Protection Officer will discuss which policy will be followed.
- Sports Centre Contacts
All personal contact numbers available for staff use at reception
General Manager Michael Phillips
Child Protection Officer Tom Moore
Child Protection Support Officers Caroline Uzunov Lorraine Spain
Useful Contacts Coolmine Sports Centre Child Protection Officers CPO@coolminesports.com
Tom Moore 01 8214 549 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tusla Regional Office 01 8708000 email@example.com
Blanchardstown Garda Station 01 6667000