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Sports Council NI Home Page >> What we do >> Community >> Child Protection Good Practice


Introduction to Good Practice


Sport is an every-day activity for many children and makes a significant contribution to their well being and development.  Sports organisations have become increasingly aware that some individuals who want to harm children will use sport as a medium to gain access to young people.  All sports have a duty to safeguard children from abuse within sport.  They also have a role in recognising and responding to concerns that a child may be being abused within another setting, such as the family home.  Sports Council Northern Ireland, by encouraging all sporting organisations to implement the Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Childrenís Sport (pdf document) believe that everyone in childrenís sport will benefit  children, parents/guardians and sports leaders.

The Wider Picture

Children can be subjected to many forms of unacceptable treatment by adults or indeed by their own peers, which we may never consider being abuse, but none the less the impact of such ill treatment is wide-ranging and impossible to quantify. At a personal level, such ill treatment can completely destroy a childís sense of worth attacking their self-confidence and self-esteem.  At its worst some children can feel that their situation, which if it goes unchallenged, is so hopeless that suicide is their only option.

Often it is difficult to believe, or indeed accept, that child abuse happens in Northern Ireland and could occur in sport.  The harsh reality is - it does! and the evidence to support this has attracted wide media attention over the years with few sports going unscathed or perhaps undetected.  It is only more recently that sporting organisations or leisure facilities have seen the need to address this more directly.

To assist your organisation/club, in developing a culture where a child can feel safe and a parent/guardian knows that your organisation/club prioritises the welfare of their child, SCNI in partnership with the Child Protection in Sport Unit have developed the following advice.

The first thing that any organisation/club needs to have in place are Guidelines of Good Practice, also know as a Code of Conduct.  This is the cornerstone of any good child protection policy.  Without a standard for sports leaders, parents/guardians and children to adhere to you are leaving your organisation vulnerable and open to challenge about behaviour or actions of individuals within your organisation/club.  As a manager you are also not able to challenge a person if you have your own concerns about the standard of their practice if you have not made them aware of the standards you expect from them.

Every organisation/club must produce a Child Protection Statement and this statement should be made available to sports leaders, parents/guardians and children and if possible displayed in your organisationís/clubís facilities. This is a statement of intent outlining what you intend to do to ensure the protection of children in your organisation/club. 

Your organisation/club have a responsibility to develop a Child Protection policy and related procedures (see sample Child Protection policy). This should be developed in partnership with parents and children where possible. To ensure this information is relayed to sports leaders, parents/guardians and children your organisation/club should produce information leaflets or an induction booklet  highlighting the priority your organisation gives to the issue of child protection.

For guidelines of individual procedures that should be in your actual Child Protection policy click here

The importance of keeping parents informed cannot be over-stated, as well as good practice think litigation, insurance etc.  Therefore it is important that you consider obtaining members medical details and parental consent form, this is particularly important if going on away trips.  Further detailed guidance on organising away trips and overnights is available through the Child Protection in Sport Unit. Photography and the use videos is another area that must be considered when working with children.

Sports organisations must insure that they regularly monitor their child protection procedures.   

For information on how a club/organisation can check the suitability of their coaches or volunteers click here

For further advice and information please see useful contacts.




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Last modified: Thursday March 04, 2020.