Every effort has been made by the RFL to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time of publication. This Policy is binding and forms part of the RFL Operational Rules. For guidance the reader is advised to contact the RFL Safeguarding team or take further advice if necessary. Where a synopsis of the Operational Rules is given the full Operational Rules as published by the RFL from time to time take precedence.
The RFL would like to thank the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) for their support and guidance. Special thanks also to the other sports whose work in this field has been a valuable source of information and inspiration.
Issued by the RFL January 2017.
1 SAFEGUARDING POLICY
1.1 Incorporation 1.2 Policy Statement 1.3 Key Principles 1.4 Safeguarding Remit 1.5 Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Rules 1.6 Definitions & Assumptions 1.7 Legal Framework
2 RESPONSIBILITY FOR SAFEGUARDING IN RUGBY LEAGUE
2.1 Who Has Responsibility for Safeguarding in Rugby League 2.2 RFL Safeguarding Manager 2.3 League Welfare Officer 2.4 Club Welfare Officer 2.5 Match Officials Society Welfare Officer
3 BEST SAFEGUARDING PRACTICE IN RUGBY LEAGUE
3.1 Duty of Care 3.2 Getting the Policies & Procedures in Place 3.3 Recruitment, Employment and Deployment of Staff and Volunteers 3.4 General Principles of Good Practice 3.5 Equality & Diversity 3.6 Education 3.7 Managing Challenging Behaviour
4 RECOGNISING ABUSE &/OR POOR PRACTICE
4.1 Recognising Abuse &/or Poor Practice 4.2 Defining Abuse 4.3 Indicators of Abuse 4.4 Awareness of Increased Vulnerability to Abuse 4.5 Relationships of Trust 4.6 Grooming
5 REPORTING & RESPONDING TO POOR PRACTICE & ABUSE
5.1 Background 5.2 Whistle Blowing 5.3 What to Report 5.4 Action to take to report concerns, a disclosure or an allegation 5.5 Advice on action to be taken if a child discloses to you 5.6 Confidentiality 5.7 Recording the Incident or Allegation 5.8 The Role of the Statutory Agencies 5.9 The RFL Safeguarding Case Management System 5.10 Support to Deal with the Aftermath 5.11 Support for Alleged Perpetrator
6 POLICIES, PROCEDURES & TEMPLATES (see RFL Website http://www.rugbyleague.com/the_rfl/child__player_welfare )
RFL SAFEGUARDING TEAM 0844 477 7113 Option 4 email@example.com
RFL Safeguarding Manager – Colette.firstname.lastname@example.org 07595 520610
0116 366 5590 0116 366 5495 email@example.com www.thecpsu.org.uk
NSPCC Child Protection Helpline - 0808 800 5000
Sport can and does have a very powerful and positive influence on people – especially children. Not only can it provide opportunities for enjoyment and achievement; it can also develop valuable qualities such as self-esteem, leadership and teamwork. These positive effects can only take place if sport is in the right hands – in the hands of those who place the welfare of all children first and adopt practices that support, protect and empower them.
The reality is that abuse, not only sexual abuse but physical and emotional abuse, as well as bullying, does take place in sport although rarely; and in some cases, coaches and other trusted adults in sport including Rugby League have been convicted of such offences through the courts or found guilty of Misconduct by the RFL.
The RFL is committed to working in partnership with all agencies to ensure that information and training opportunities are available to ensure and promote best practice when working with children. Adopting best practice will help to safeguard these participants from potential abuse as well as preventing any unfounded allegations of abuse being made against coaches and other adults in positions of responsibility. The RFL Safeguarding Policy allows children to excel in a safe environment and transmit a reassuring signal to parents that positively impacts on participation.
This document is binding for the game as a whole to everyone in Rugby League, whether involved in either a professional or voluntary capacity or as a parent, spectator or participant.
It is recognised that child abuse may be an emotive and difficult subject, however everyone in Rugby League has a duty of care towards children and other vulnerable players and officials and must help to protect them from abuse.
1 SAFEGUARDING POLICY
The RFL Safeguarding Policy and associated policies and procedures have been adopted by the whole game. All individuals involved in Rugby League in England at every level, including but not limited to players, match officials, coaches, administrators, club officials, parents, agents and spectators and all are bound to abide by this Policy, by the RESPECT Code of Conduct, by the Tackle It Policy, by the Rugby League Coach’s Code of Conduct and by any other applicable Code of Conduct published by the RFL. All such individuals by participating or being involved in Rugby League are deemed to have assented to and as such recognise and adhere to the principles and responsibilities embodied in this Policy & the Codes.
1.2 POLICY STATEMENT
Every child who plays or otherwise participates in Rugby League should be able to take part in an enjoyable and safe environment and be protected from abuse. This is the responsibility of every adult involved in rugby league.
The RFL recognises its responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all children by protecting them from physical, emotional or sexual harm and from neglect or bullying.
The RFL is committed to working to provide a safe environment for all children to participate in the sport to the best of their abilities for as long as they choose to do so.
The RFL recognises that all children have a right to be protected from abuse irrespective of their age, gender, culture, disability, race, faith, religious belief and/or sexual orientation.
The child’s welfare is paramount and will be put before other considerations such as winning matches or the success and achievement of adults or clubs or representative teams.
The RFL recognises that abuse and poor practice does take place in sport and that raising awareness and understanding of the main forms of abuse and poor practice and encouraging reporting if abuse or poor practice is suspected, will further safeguard children participating in Rugby League.
1.3 KEY PRINCIPLES
ï€ Every adult has a moral and statutory duty for the care, custody and control of any child under the age of 18 under their supervision ï€ The child’s welfare is paramount ï€ All children, irrespective of age, disability, faith, gender, race or sexual orientation have the right to be protected from abuse ï€ All incidents, allegations or suspicions of poor practice or abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately in confidence where possible ï€ All children have a right to play or otherwise participate in the game of Rugby League in a safe and enjoyable environment ï€ All children in this context includes, but is not limited to, players, officials & volunteers, match officials, ball boys & girls, cheerleaders and dancers, pre-match entertainment participants, spectators and/or visitors. ï€ Children have a right to expect appropriate management, support, personal and social development with regard to their involvement in the game of Rugby League, whether they are playing, volunteering or officiating in the community or professional game ï€ All those involved in Rugby League will be provided with appropriate policies, training and support to ensure they are able to implement this policy.
1.4 SAFEGUARDING REMIT
Safeguarding has a broad remit within the game of Rugby League. All those involved in the management of children in Rugby League have a duty to ensure that all children are:
ï€ Allowed access to the game in a way that is appropriate for their age and ability ï€ Coached and trained by appropriately qualified staff ï€ Not required to play in so many games, or to attend training sessions, as to become a threat to their physical or emotional well being ï€ Allowed and encouraged to participate for fun and enjoyment rather than results on the pitch ï€ Not subjected to emotional (verbal) abuse or bullying from any source, including from the touch lines (based on their age, disability, faith, gender, race or sexual orientation and references to ability, height, weight or any other characteristics) ï€ Not subjected to physical abuse, bullying or undue pressure from any source ï€ Not subjected to sexual abuse ï€ Not subjected to neglect ï€ Not subjected to poor practice ï€ Encouraged to achieve their full potential at all levels ï€ Instructed and set examples about how to behave, both on and off the pitch ï€ Afforded respect in any playing and training situation and any other Rugby League environment.
1.5 SAFEGUARDING VULNERABLE GROUPS RULES
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Rules have been adopted by the RFL, its Members and any other relevant body in England and participation, officiating, spectating or any other involvement in the game in England is dependent on acceptance of the Rules and this Policy. To ensure clarity and consistency in the matter of issues relating to Safeguarding, all Members of the RFL have delegated responsibility to the RFL.
1.6 DEFINITIONS & ASSUMPTIONS
This Policy is based on the following principles:
ï€ Child - This policy recognises and builds on the legal and statutory definitions of a child, the distinction between ages of consent, civil and criminal liability are recognised but in the pursuit of good practice in the delivery and management of Safeguarding in Rugby League, a child is recognised as being under the age of 18 years (Children’s Act 2004 definition). ï€ Adult at Risk – “any person aged 18 years and over who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental health issues, learning or physical disability, sensory impairment, age or illness and who is or may be unable to take care of him/herself or unable to protection him/herself against significant harm or serious exploitation”. Throughout this policy any reference to a child also applies to a young person or adult at risk unless otherwise stated. ï€ Confidentiality should be upheld in line with the Data Protection Act 1984 and the Human Rights Act 2000 with the rider that the welfare of the child is paramount. ï€ The term “parents” used throughout this document as a generic term to represent parents, carers and guardians. ï€ The term “club” is used throughout this document as a generic term to represent any Rugby League agency in charge of players under the age of 18 years or vulnerable adults and includes, but is not limited to, Leagues, schools, festivals, tournaments, representative sides and Match Officials Societies. ï€ “Members” shall mean those organisations which are members of the RFL from time to time.
1.7 LEGAL FRAMEWORK
The RFL’s approach to Safeguarding is based on the principles recognised within UK and international legislation and Government guidance. The following has been taken into consideration:
ï€ The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 ï€ Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 ï€ Working Together to Safeguard Children (DOH) 2015 ï€ The Children Act 1989 ï€ The Children Act 2004 ï€ The Human Rights Act 1998 ï€ The Sexual Offences (Amendments) Act 2000
ï€ The Sexual Offences Act 2003 ï€ The Police Act 1997 ï€ The Protection of Children Act 1999 ï€ The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 ï€ Data Protection Act 1998 ï€ Information Sharing Advice for Safeguarding Practitioners 2015
2 RESPONSIBILITY FOR SAFEGUARDING IN RUGBY LEAGUE
2.1 WHO HAS RESPONSIBILITY FOR SAFEGUARDING IN RUGBY LEAGUE?
The RFL and all individuals, clubs, leagues, societies, associations and other agencies involved in Rugby League will:
ï€ Accept the moral and legal responsibility to implement safeguarding procedures and to provide a duty of care for children, safeguard their wellbeing and protect them from abuse and poor practice ï€ Listen to children and respect and promote their rights, wishes and feelings ï€ Recruit, train and supervise its employees and volunteers to adopt best practice to safeguard and protect children from abuse ï€ Require all staff and volunteers to adopt and abide by this Safeguarding Policy, the RESPECT Code of Conduct and the Rugby League Coach’s Code of Conduct ï€ Respond to any allegations appropriately ï€ Report all concerns, allegations or disclosures to the RFL (as set out below) ï€ Recognise that it is the responsibility of the RFL Safeguarding Case Management Group, experts and agencies to determine whether abuse has taken place but it is everyone’s responsibility to report any concerns ï€ Recognise that working in partnership with children, their parents and other agencies is essential for the protection of children ï€ Co-operate fully and promptly with the statutory bodies and/or the RFL in any investigation ï€ Recognise the statutory responsibility of the Designated Officers (also known as Local Authority Designated Officer to ensure the welfare of children and work with them to comply with procedures.
2.2 RFL SAFEGUARDING MANAGER
The role of the RFL Safeguarding Manager is to:
ï€ Take the lead role in the development and establishment of the RFL’s approach to safeguarding children, including reporting to the RFL Board and producing the RFL’s Safeguarding Policy ï€ Manage cases of poor practice and/or abuse reported to the RFL and keep suitable records in accordance with Data Protection Act ï€ Manage referrals to Designated Officers and/or Children’s Social Care and/or Police and/or other agencies as appropriate ï€ Be a central point of contact for internal and external agencies ï€ Represent the RFL at external meetings related to Safeguarding ï€ Co-ordinate dissemination of policy, procedures and resources throughout the organisation ï€ Provide advice and support to the League and Club and Match Officials’ Society Welfare Officers ï€ Advise on the RFL’s Safeguarding training needs and develop a training strategy ï€ Maintain confidentiality in cases except where to do so would put a child at risk ï€ Maintain, roll out & review the RFL Safeguarding Plan ï€ Ensure ‘Standards for Safeguarding & Protecting Children in Sport’ (CPSU, 2002) are met ï€ Attend CPSU National Lead Officers’ meetings and training.
2.3 LEAGUE WELFARE OFFICER
Each League should appoint a League Welfare Officer who has been DBS checked at an enhanced level and attended training as required by the RFL from time to time. The League should notify the RFL
Safeguarding Officer who is taking this role for their League. The role of the League Welfare Officers is to provide the following service within their League:
ï€ Encourage and promote best practice ï€ Encourage roll out of DBS checking ï€ Ensure each club has an appropriate Club Welfare Officer in post ï€ Promote the RFL's education opportunities ï€ Act as a point of contact should a member of a club have a concern or query ï€ Refer all concerns or queries to the RFL in line with the reporting procedures below ï€ Act as a link between the RFL and the League ï€ Receive confidential information from the RFL SCMG about cases on a need to know basis
2.4 CLUB WELFARE OFFICER
All clubs must identify a designated person to take the role of Club Welfare Officer (CWO) who will lead on Safeguarding within the club. Before this person takes up their role they must be registered with the RFL, a process which includes undertaking an enhanced DBS check and attending such training as is required from time to time. Once clearance has been received from the RFL, a photo ID card will be issued to validate the appointment.
The CWO must have a formal role on the club’s management committee and be supported by the management committee. The CWO will require support from the club, and designated training and support will be provided by the RFL. Clubs running a number of teams may need to appoint more than one CWO to ensure sufficient cover.
The role of the Club Welfare Officer is to:
ï€ Ensure all coaches and significant others are DBS checked ï€ Attend the ‘Safeguarding and Protecting Children’ course and ‘Time to Listen’ ï€ Attend the RFL Safeguarding Conference at least every two years ï€ Ensure that Coaches have attended the ‘Safeguarding and Protecting Children’ course ï€ Act as first point of contact for coaches, parents or children who may have concerns (contact details must be included on the club website and noticeboard) ï€ Report any concerns to the RFL ï€ Ensure that information from the RFL is disseminated to relevant club personnel CWO
The CWO should also be: ï€ Appointed and supported by Committee ï€ Able to identify poor practice and abuse – behaviour that is harmful to children. ï€ Aware of the RFL’s role and responsibilities to safeguard the welfare of children ï€ Aware of the boundaries of the CWO role, e.g. it is not the CWO’s role to investigate allegations; it is the duty of the CWO to report concerns in line with the RFL reporting procedures. ï€ Able to Comply with confidentiality requirements ï€ Working within the RFL Safeguarding policy and procedures ï€ Aware of Equality and Diversity issues and Safeguarding.
All the above can be obtained through attending Safeguarding & Protecting Children training, RFL ‘Time to Listen’ training and via the regular RFL updates and conference.
2.5 MATCH OFFICIALS SOCIETY WELFARE OFFICER
All Match Officials Societies must identify at least one designated person to take the role of Match Officials Society Welfare Officer (MOSWO) to handle Safeguarding issues. Before this person takes up their role they must be registered with the RFL, a process which includes undertaking an enhanced level DBS check and attending such training as required from time to time. Once clearance has been received from the RFL, a photo ID card will be issued to validate the appointment.
The MOSWO must have a formal role on the Match Officials Society Committee and be supported by the Committee. The MOSWO will require support from all members of the Society, designated training and support will be provided by the RFL.
The MOSWO has the same role and requires the same knowledge as a CWO as set out above. Throughout this Policy where the term CWO is used the same applies to a MOSWO where applicable.
3 BEST SAFEGUARDING PRACTICE IN RUGBY LEAGUE
3.1 DUTY OF CARE
Every person, club, league or other organisation in Rugby League has a legal duty of care to ensure the safety and welfare of any child involved in Rugby League or related activities, to safeguard them and protect them from foreseeable forms of harm.
Safeguarding involves all involved in Rugby League acknowledging that this duty of care exists and putting practical measures in place throughout the game to minimise the likelihood of foreseeable harm arising.
3.2 GETTING THE POLICIES & PROCEDURES IN PLACE
The following is a list of the fundamental duties of every Club to demonstrate this duty of care. Other organisations such as Leagues, schools, festivals, tournaments, representative teams and Match Officials Societies must take the appropriate and relevant steps for their circumstances – the RFL is available to offer advice as required.
All clubs must:
ï€ Display their Club’s own Safeguarding Policy Statement prominently ï€ Follow the RFL reporting procedures for concerns, allegations and disclosure ï€ Recruit, appoint and arrange for the training of a CWO who is the designated contact for Safeguarding issues ï€ Adopt the RESPECT code of conduct ï€ Have a Safeguarding policy which everybody at the club understands and puts into practice on a daily basis. ï€ Ensure that the following policies & procedures exist within the Club:
ï€ Safeguarding Policy ï€ Selection & Recruitment Policy ï€ Whistle Blowing Policy ï€ First Aid Standards ï€ Dressing Room Policy ï€ Anti-Bullying Policy ï€ Equality Policy ï€ RESPECT ï€ 100% ME Anti-Doping Policy ï€ Confidentiality and Data Protection ï€ Managing Challenging Behaviour & the Use of Force ï€ Travel Policy ï€ Social Media Policy
ï€ Procedures for reporting concerns of abuse or poor practice child ï€ Complaints & disciplinary procedures ï€ System for collecting player information and parental consent ï€ A forum for children to express their views ï€ Information for parents and children ï€ Transport & away game/tour procedures ï€ Recruitment and Selection procedures These policies and procedures are available on the RFL website http://www.rugbyleague.com/the_rfl/child__player_welfare or on request from the RFL either as completed documents or as templates for clubs to adapt to their own circumstances.
3.3 RECRUITMENT, EMPLOYMENT AND DEPLOYMENT OF STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS
Anyone may have the potential to abuse children and some sex offenders use sport as a means to access and groom children in preparation for abuse, therefore all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that people who are potential perpetrators of abuse or are otherwise unsuitable to work with children and young people due to their sexual or other behaviours are prevented from doing so.
It is also important to ensure that individuals who have a record of violence or an inability to control their temper or a record of domestic or animal abuse or abuse of drugs are appropriately risk assessed and where appropriate do not have access to children.
However, having a criminal record does not necessarily prohibit an individual from working with children. The RFL are obligated to conduct thorough risk assessments on any DBS disclosures that include relevant information. All staff involved in the risk assessment process are trained and carry out risk assessments in line with their training and the provisions of the RFL Policy on the Rehabilitation of Offenders. It is essential that the same procedures are used consistently for all posts whether staff or volunteers are full time or part-time.
Under this Policy all individuals working on behalf of, or otherwise representing, an organisation are treated as employees whether working in a paid or voluntary capacity.
All Clubs at all levels must use the recruitment procedures set out in detail on the RFL website and these must be followed for all relevant recruitment whether of staff or volunteers. Clubs should remember that these procedures should be applied to people who are already involved in the club and subsequently take on a role which gives them greater access to children. Clubs should ensure that those staff and volunteers already involved in the game undergo the appropriate parts of the recruitment procedures in particular DBS checks, although these are only part of a safe and effective recruitment and selection procedure.
In particular, pre-appointment checks should be made including carrying out Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) checks through the RFL and taking up references. DBS checks must be completed every three years for existing staff or more frequently if instructed to do so by the SCMG. Coaching staff must have their qualifications checked and their coaching licence must be inspected and the number recorded. Coaches must also be reminded that they have agreed to abide by the Coaches Code Conduct and the RESPECT Code of Conduct. Coaches (and other volunteers where relevant) should be given copies of these documents
Once volunteers and staff are in place it is essential that their behaviour and performance is monitored and feedback given. Club Management should be vigilant and look out for any concerns about poor practice or abuse and act on them at an early stage following the guidelines in this document. The Club management should also offer appropriate support, through liaison with the RFL Safeguarding Manager to those who report concerns/complaints.
3.4 GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF GOOD PRACTICE
The following is a non-exhaustive list of the general principles of good practice with children:
ï€ Treating all children equally, and with respect and dignity
ï€ Promoting a culture which ensures children are listened to and those views acted on ï€ Respecting all children as individuals ï€ Always putting the welfare of each child first, before winning matches or achieving goals; ï€ Making rugby league fun, enjoyable and promoting fair play ï€ Ensuring that all disciplinary sanctions are fair, proportionate to the issue and the child’s age, and do not involve violent or physical punishment or humiliation ï€ Communicating with parents to promote positive outcomes for children ï€ Physical exertion, e.g. running around the pitch should not be used as a method of punishment ï€ Always working in an open environment (e.g. not having private or unobserved situations and encouraging an open environment (e.g. no secrets) ï€ Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance, both physical and emotional, with children ï€ Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust which empowers children to share in the decision-making process ï€ Not having sexual relationships with children at the club including 16 or 17 year olds - this includes all coaches and other staff or volunteers at a club ï€ Being an excellent role model – this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of children whilst undertaking any role within an RFL setting, promoting a healthy diet and condemning the use of illegal and performance enhancing substances
Policies covering best practice guidelines for working with children can be found on the RFL website http://www.rugby-league.com/the_rfl/child__player_welfare
3.5 EQUALITY & DIVERSITY
Equality protects people from being discriminated against on the grounds of group membership i.e. gender, race, age, disability, religious beliefs, faith and sexual orientation. It is based on the legal obligation to comply with anti-discrimination legislation. For more information on relevant Equality legislation please contact the RFL.
Diversity is recognising, valuing and respecting the diversity of everyone. Diversity encompasses visible and non-visible differences which may include, but are not limited to, differences protected by the Equalities Act 2010.
All employees and volunteers should guard against making assumptions about an individual’s identity based on stereotypes. As well as being inappropriate it can be very misleading making it less likely that a worker will be able to identify any problems or concerns or gain the trust and respect of the individuals that they are working with.
Why is a commitment to Equality and Diversity essential?
1 It is morally the right thing to do – both in terms of everyone’s wellbeing and the wider reputation of the club as a safe and welcoming environment 2 It makes good business sense – if a club is seen to be inclusive, to challenge inequality and discrimination and to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants – there will be increased participation particularly among underrepresented groups and a greater likelihood that participants will stay involved 3 Legal responsibility – if a child experiences discrimination, victimisation or harassment based on their gender, race, disability, religious beliefs, faith, age or sexual orientation the club could face legal proceedings which are costly in terms of possible fines as well as a damaging loss of reputation
It is essential that a sufficient number of individuals within the club have a basic level of Safeguarding training to ensure that this Policy is adhered to throughout the club. The current course which gives this knowledge is ‘Safeguarding and Protecting Children’ (SPC.) This course is a sports coach UK course which is required for the RFL L2 Coaching Licence and is strongly recommended for all those working with children.
CWOs need more knowledge than other volunteers in order for them to be as effective as possible in fulfilling their role and responsibilities. This knowledge is imparted through the ‘Time To Listen’ (TTL) course. This course was designed by the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) and has been amended by the RFL (with CPSU approval) to reflect practices within the game. Although this course is primarily aimed at CWOs, other volunteers are more than welcome to attend in order to increase their knowledge.
The Rugby League Learning website http://www.rugby-league.com/the_rfl/rugby_league_learning_ contains details of education opportunities.
3.7 MANAGING CHALLENGING BEHAVIOUR
Coaches & other volunteers may have to deal with challenging behaviour from the children or young people in their care. It is important that those involved in youth and junior Rugby League are aware of the RFL’s Policy for Managing Challenging Behaviour which can be found on the RFL website.
This Policy aims to encourage good practice, suggest some strategies and sanctions which can be used and identify unacceptable sanctions or interventions which must never be used.
The Policy is based on the following principles:
ï€ The welfare of the child is paramount ï€ All those involved in the sport including children, coaches & volunteers should have clear guidelines about the standard of behaviour which is expected and the processes for dealing with behaviour which is unacceptable ï€ Children must never be subject to any form of treatment that is harmful, abusive, humiliating or degrading ï€ Some children’s behaviour may be caused by medical or psychological conditions. Coaches & volunteers may need additional help including discussing the child’s needs with parents and/or carers and possibly from external agencies that already support that child ï€ Rugby League can be a beneficial experience for all children and children should only be excluded from the sport in exceptional cases.
4 ABUSE &/OR POOR PRACTICE
4.1 RECOGNISING ABUSE &/OR POOR PRACTICE
It is essential that all adults involved with children in Rugby League understand what constitutes abuse and/or poor practice, how to recognise it and how to respond to disclosures and allegations (see Section 5). Abuse and poor practice can be very emotive and difficult subjects; however, it is important that they are discussed openly at clubs as this helps create an environment where people are more aware of the issues and sensitive to the needs of children. This open environment also gives people more confidence in recognising abuse and /or poor practice and reacting to it.
Abuse can and does occur outside the family setting. Even for those experienced in working with child abuse, it is not always easy to recognise a situation where abuse may occur or has already taken place. The staff and volunteers in Rugby League, whether in a paid or voluntary capacity, are not experts at such recognition. However, they do have a responsibility to act if they have any concerns about the behaviour of someone (an adult or another child) towards a child and to follow the procedures set out in Section 5 of this document.
4.2 DEFINING ABUSE
Any person may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or institutional or club environment by people known to them or more rarely by a stranger. Children can be abused by adults or by other children and some forms of abuse may be carried out through social media.
The effects of abuse can be extremely damaging and if allowed to continue or left unacknowledged may follow a person into adulthood. For instance, a person who has been abused as a child may find it difficult to maintain stable or trusting relationships, may suffer from low self-esteem or self-harm, may
become involved in drugs or prostitution, may attempt suicide and may inflict the same behaviour on to other children in future.
4.2.1 Categories of Abuse
A child is physically hurt or injured by an adult or an adult gives drugs or alcohol to a child.
A child’s basic physical needs are consistently not met or they are regularly left alone or unsupervised.
An adult or peer uses a child to meet their own sexual needs.
An adult persistently criticises, denigrates or puts unrealistic expectations on a child or subjects them to abuse due to their gender, race, age, disability, religion and faith and sexual orientation.
An adult or peer persistently or repeatedly uses hostile and/or intimidating behaviour towards a child.
The RFL website http://www.rugby-league.com/the_rfl/child__player_welfare contains detailed information about categories of abuse and how to recognise them and the RFL Anti Bullying Policy.
4.2.2 Poor Practice Poor practice is the term used to describe practice which falls below the standards expected to such an extent that a child’s welfare is compromised and is where an adult’s or another child’s behaviour is inappropriate and may be causing concern to a child. In application of this Policy, poor practice includes any behaviour of a Safeguarding nature which contravenes the RESPECT Code of Conduct or Coaches Code of Conduct, infringes an individual’s rights and/ or is a failure to fulfil the highest standards of care. Poor practice is unacceptable in Rugby League, should never be sanctioned and will be treated seriously with appropriate actions taken.
Some examples of Poor Practice are:
ï€ Insufficient care is taken to avoid injuries e.g. by excessive training or inappropriate training for the age or maturity, experience and ability of players; ï€ Giving continued and unnecessary preferential treatment to individuals and regularly or unfairly rejecting others e.g. singling out and focusing on the talented players or the coach’s own children or not having a fair team selection policy; ï€ Having a win at all costs mentality . ï€ Placing children in potentially compromising and uncomfortable situations with adults ï€ Allowing abusive or concerning practices to go unchallenged and unreported e.g. failing to deal with or report a coach who ridicules or swears at players who make a mistake during a match ï€ Ignoring health and safety rules ï€ Failing to adhere to the game’s RESPECT or other codes of conduct ï€ Failing to act to prevent one child harming or abusing another ï€ Issuing disciplinary sanctions which are not proportionate to age and/or involve violent or physical punishment or humiliation
4.2.3 Practice Never to be Sanctioned
No one involved in the game should ever:
ï€ Engage in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay
ï€ Share a room with a child ï€ Shower with a child ï€ Allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching ï€ Allow children to use inappropriate language unchallenged ï€ Make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun ï€ Reduce a child to tears as a form of control ï€ Allow allegations made by a child go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon; ï€ Do things of a personal nature for children, young people or disabled adults, that they can do for themselves ï€ Take a child or children to their home where they will be alone with them. ï€ Invite or allow a child or children to stay with them at their home unsupervised ï€ Contact a child directly by telephone or social media
N.B It may sometimes be necessary for staff or volunteers to do things of a personal nature for children, particularly if they are young or have a disability. These tasks should only be carried out with the full understanding and consent of parents and the players involved. There is a need to be responsive to a person’s reactions. If a person is fully dependant on you, talk with him/her about what you are doing and give choices where possible. This is particularly true if you are involved in any dressing or undressing of outer clothing or where there is physical contact, lifting or assisting a child to carry out particular activities. Avoid taking on the responsibility for tasks for which you are not appropriately trained.
If any of the following incidents should occur to staff or volunteers they should be reported immediately to another colleague and make a written note of the event. This action should be taken as soon as possible for the protection of all individuals concerned. Parents should also be informed of the incident:
ï€ If you accidentally hurt a player ï€ If he/she seems distressed in any manner ï€ If a player appears to be sexually aroused by your actions ï€ If a player misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done
4.3 INDICATORS OF ABUSE
Indications that a child may be being abused include the following:
ï€ Unexplained or suspicious injuries such as bruising, cuts or burns, particularly if situated on a part of the body not normally prone to such injuries ï€ An injury for which the explanation seems inconsistent ï€ The child describes what appears to be an abusive act involving him/her ï€ Someone else (a child or adult) expresses concern about the welfare of another child ï€ Unexplained changes in behaviour (e.g. becoming very quiet, withdrawn or displaying sudden outbursts of temper) ï€ Inappropriate sexual awareness ï€ Engaging in sexually explicit behaviour ï€ Distrust of adults, particularly those with whom a close relationship would normally be expected ï€ Has difficulty in making friends ï€ Is prevented from socialising with other children ï€ Displays variations in eating patterns including overeating or loss of appetite ï€ Loses weight for no apparent reason ï€ Becomes increasingly dirty or unkempt.
It should be recognised that this list is not exhaustive and the presence of one or more of the indicators is not proof that abuse is actually taking place. A good working relationship with parents will help to identify any concerns that a child may be experiencing, e.g. family bereavement.
It is not the responsibility of those working in Rugby League to decide that child abuse is occurring but it is their responsibility to act and pass on suspicions and/or information to the RFL SCMG and/or appropriate statutory agencies.
4.4 AWARENESS OF INCREASED VULNERABILITY TO ABUSE
All those involved in rugby league need to be aware that some children can be more vulnerable to abuse because of their needs and background.
Disabled Children may be more vulnerable to abuse because they may:
ï€ Require intimate personal care ï€ Experience negative attitudes and abuse due to their disability ï€ May be ignored and excluded from activities if people fail to recognise that it is the barriers that society puts up which prevent their involvement not their disability per se ï€ May be dependent on their abuser for care ï€ Be less able to resist either verbally or physically ï€ Have a smaller network of friends to support and protect them ï€ Lack access to peer groups to discover what is acceptable behaviour ï€ Have significant communication difficulties including the use of sign language ï€ Be more likely to have their verbal or non-verbal communication misinterpreted as relating to their disability rather than abusive experiences ï€ Have medical needs which may be used to explain abuse.
4.4.2 – Black & Minority Ethnic groups
Children from Black and Minority Ethnic groups may be more vulnerable to abuse because they may:
ï€ Experience racism and racist attitudes ï€ Expect to be ignored by people in authority due to experience of institutionalised racism ï€ Be afraid of further abuse or racist abuse if they challenge others ï€ Be subjected to myths based on racial stereotyping ï€ Want to fit in and not want to make a fuss ï€ Be using or learning English as a second language and therefore find it more difficult to communicate.
4.4.3 Religion and faith
Children from various religions and faiths may be more vulnerable to abuse because they may:
ï€ Experience religious intolerance, fear or hatred based on their religious beliefs ï€ Be subjected to myths based on stereotypes ï€ Suffer bullying or assumptions about their commitment to the game due to their religious beliefs and practices ï€ Be discriminated against, harassed or bullied based on their actual or perceived religious beliefs due to fear of religious extremism.
4.4.4 Sexual orientation
Children are often aware of their sexuality from an early age and many children may already identify as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). LGBT Children may be more vulnerable to abuse because they may:
ï€ Be subjected to homophobia – which includes bullying abuse or physical attacks ï€ Have their experiences as LGBT children rendered invisible by heterosexist attitudes and assumptions which assumes that everyone is heterosexual and that this is preferable to being gay.
When thinking about danger signs of grooming it is important to recognise that both boys and girls are groomed and/or sexually abused. Children in Rugby League may be subjected to bullying by children of the same or opposite sex and may have assumptions made relating to their sexuality or sexual orientation because of their involvement in playing a competitive contact sport such as Rugby League. Such assumptions or stereotypes are wholly inappropriate and should not be condoned as they may increase the vulnerability of some children to abuse.
It is important that both girls and boys are accorded the same levels of respect by all those working with them and should not be treated unequally because of their gender.
4.4.6 Match Officials
A considerable proportion of the match officials at youth and junior games are children and their role makes them particularly vulnerable to abuse in all its forms. Many young officials face verbal, emotional and even physical abuse whilst carrying out the role and many become disillusioned at best or suffer a significant and lasting loss of confidence when faced with abuse of this nature.
In addition to abuse from coaches and spectators match officials are vulnerable to abuse from other match officials. It is important that Leagues and Match Officials Societies implement all the safeguarding principles to protect young match officials.
4.4.7 Children who take on leadership roles
More and more children are taking on leadership and volunteering roles within Rugby League. This should be an enjoyable and positive experience. Unfortunately some adults (coaches, parents, volunteers and spectators) lose sight of the fact that an individual in a leadership role who is under 18 is still legally a child.
Many children suffer verbal, physical and emotional abuse in leadership roles. This is unacceptable in Rugby League and the harm that is caused to these children needs to be recognised by adults within the game.
4.4.8 Reducing the potential for vulnerability
Given the increased vulnerability of some groups of children it is important that clubs (match officials societies) create a safe culture including:
ï€ Finding ways of understanding and communicating with all children ï€ Maintaining best practice at all times in physical and health care ï€ Considering and responding to the diverse cultures within which a club is based ï€ Respecting and valuing diversity ï€ Building positive relationships with parents and carers and include them in club activities ï€ Observing changes in mood, appearance and behaviour and discuss those concerns with families, carers, the CWO, or RFL Safeguarding Manager if suspicions or concerns are significantly raised about the care or welfare of the child ï€ Acknowledging that disabled children are additionally vulnerable and that vigilance is essential ï€ Having systems in place that ensures there is no abuse of match officials from anyone connected with the club ï€ Taking a zero-tolerance approach to abusive behaviour directed towards a child who is carrying out a leadership role is not acceptable ï€ Reporting inappropriate behaviour to the RFL Safeguarding Manager as abuse or poor practice ï€ Ensuring that the RESPECT code of conduct is enforced and actively promoted at the club ï€ Making sure that all club officials set good examples of behaviour at all times
4.5 RELATIONSHIPS OF TRUST
The power and influence that a coach (or other member of staff/volunteer) has over a child involved in sport cannot be under-estimated. If there is an additional competitive aspect to the activity and the coach/staff member/volunteer has some responsibility for the child’s success or failure, then the power
and influence of that person is increased. It is therefore vital for coaches/staff/volunteers to recognise these issues and to ensure that they do not abuse their relationships of trust.
Whilst young people aged 16 or 17 can legally consent to some types of sexual activity, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 states that “It is an offence for a person aged 18 or over to involve a child under that age in sexual activity where he or she is in a specified position of trust in relation to that child. This includes those who care for, advise, supervise or train children and young people”. The RFL’s policy is based on the principles within that Act.
Any person who has any direct and/or indirect power or influence over a Child within the Game (including, but not limited to coaches, team managers, match officials, CWOs and club officials) are in a relationship of trust with that Child. Each such person shall:
- act within appropriate boundaries in relation to all forms of communication with any such Child; - not have intimate, sexual or inappropriate relationship with any such Child
Any breach of the above is serious Misconduct.
For the avoidance of doubt a Child may be in a relationship of trust with another Child where they have taken on a leadership role.
The majority of adults working with children in Rugby League are committed to providing an enjoyable and safe environment in which to participate. However, a small proportion of adults actively seek opportunities to abuse children for their own sexual needs.
Sexual abuse of children is often the result of pre-meditated actions that are carefully planned. Preparing a child or organisation (i.e. a Club) is described as ‘grooming’ and is illegal under the provisions of The Sexual Offences Act 2003 and Misconduct under this Policy. It is important to understand how an abuser can ‘groom’ a club or parents or a child by appearing trustworthy and helpful, therefore giving the impression that they can take responsibility for a young person/some young people.
Abusers come from all sections of society, within and outside of the family and within and outside Rugby League. They may be perceived as ‘respectable’ people – the very last person anyone could suspect of abusing a child; this is usually the image they work hard to portray. Research into abuse demonstrates clearly that children are most likely to be abused by someone they know and who is likely to be in a position of trust with the child. Whilst the vast majority of sexual abusers are male, it is important not to overlook the fact that female sexual abusers do exist.
Sexual abusers use various techniques to ‘groom’ children, organizations and parents. These include:
ï€ Seeking opportunities to be in contact with children, e.g. volunteering. ï€ Making friends with children, coaches, volunteers or parents ï€ Appearing trustworthy and helpful ï€ Giving presents to children or offering additional individual support/coaching ï€ Complementing the child to make them feel comfortable and confident. ï€ Threatening (you won’t get picked for the team) or bribing (you will get picked for the team) the child ï€ Telling the child that it’s normal
Abusers target children who they see as particularly vulnerable, this may be due to the child having low self-esteem or it appearing that they have little parental support. Therefore, children’s parents should always be encouraged to be part of the club as this can act as an extra safeguard.
There are particular risks for talented children and these children are more at risk of abuse on ‘away trips’. These risks are particularly acute at the point at which a player is at ‘pre-peak’ performance. These risks relate to:
ï€ Separation from close family and friends– due to amount of ‘away’ travel and possibly living away from home ï€ Dependence on the coach for team selection, advice, emotional support, money.
ï€ Lack of safeguards away from home such as lack of checks on accommodation practices ï€ Too much emphasis on winning and high performance and not enough on personal development and enjoyment. This environment can sometimes be condoned by parents.
Any concerns relating to an adult’s behaviour or intentions towards children should be reported appropriately, see Section 5.
5 RESPONDING TO, RECORDING & REPORTING POOR PRACTICE, ABUSE AND BULLYING OR OTHER CONCERNS WITHIN OR OUTSIDE RUGBY LEAGUE
There is a legal and moral responsibility to report any concerns about a child within Rugby League and any concerns which may be raised about a child outside the sport. Child abuse of all types, particularly sexual abuse, can generate strong and confusing emotions in those facing such a situation for instance disbelief, disgust, anger etc. It is important to understand these feelings and not allow them to interfere with your judgement about any action to take. Abuse and poor practice can occur within many situations including the home, school and the sporting environment.
It is understood that people may often have concerns about reporting the behaviour of adults who are aggressive and potentially violent. Where possible the RFL will protect the identity of the person who has reported an incident when they feel threatened by the individual concerned. It should be remembered that if these individuals are intimidating to other adults they are likely to be even more intimidating to any children within their care and that there is a duty of care and an obligation under this Policy to report such behaviour.
Rugby League clubs are often close communities which generate strong loyalties between the volunteers working together. The RFL appreciates that it can be difficult to report close colleagues but would remind all those involved in the game of their over-riding moral duty to ensure the welfare of the children at the club above any sense of loyalty to colleagues or the club. All suspicions of abuse or cases of poor practice should be reported following the guidelines in this document.
A coach, official or volunteer may have regular contact with children and be an important link in the identifying cases where a child needs protection. In addition coaches can often become the only adult that a child feels they can trust. This can often lead to a coach receiving a disclosure about abuse outside the club environment. In these circumstances there is a duty to pass on the information and coaches and other volunteers need to be aware of the action to take in these circumstances.
5.2 WHISTLE BLOWING
The RFL is determined to ensure that the culture of the sport is one in which it is safe, acceptable and gives confidence to those involved in rugby league to raise concerns about unacceptable practice and misconduct. In order to achieve this, the RFL has a Whistle Blowing Policy which can be found at http://www.rugby-league.com/the_rfl/child__player_welfare The RFL rules make it an offence to harass or victimise a whistle blower.
5.3 WHAT TO REPORT
In order for the Safeguarding Case Management Group (SCMG) to carry out its responsibilities under the Safeguarding Policy the Group needs to be informed of the following issues or related allegations. In appropriate instances the Group will log the issue/allegation and refer it to the relevant League or Club to deal with and report back to the SCMG, alternatively the SCMG will deal with the issue/allegation itself or refer it to the appropriate statutory agencies. The following is a list of issues and/or allegations which should be referred to the SCMG, please note this is not exhaustive and if anyone in the game believes a Child is at risk of harm this should be reported.
5.3.1 Physical abuse
ï€ Assault or inappropriate contact on a Child by an adult ï€ Allegations or suspicions that a Child is being physically abused in or outside Rugby League
5.3.2 Verbal Abuse
ï€ Threatening and/or abusive language that causes (or that a reasonable adult would expect to cause) emotional distress to a Child
NB just because a Child does not appear to be emotionally distressed does not mean that they are not, when verbal abuse is regular Children learn to hide their feelings.
5.3.3 Racist, homophobic or other discriminatory abuse
ï€ Racist, homophobic or other discriminatory abuse or allegations of abuse which have not resulted in a dismissal.
NB if the Match Official has heard the abuse and dismissed the player then the report should be dealt with in the same manner as any other dismissal
ï€ Allegations or suspicions that a Child is being neglected
5.3.5 Sexual abuse/breach of Relationships of Trust
ï€ Allegations or suspicions that a Child is being sexually abused either in the game or in any other place eg school, home, church, by other Children. ï€ Allegations of an adult sharing a room with a Child, showering with Children, making sexually suggestive comments to a Child, inappropriate touching, taking or inviting a Child to their home on their own ï€ Allegations or suspicions that a volunteer or employee is entering into a sexual relationship with a Child under 18 involved in the game
5.3.6 Information about Participants
ï€ Information and/or rumours about participants in the game which if true would lead a reasonable person to believe that the participant (regardless of age) may be a threat to the safety of Children
ï€ Bullying of Children by adults
Child on Child bullying should usually be dealt with by the CWO at the club who may contact the Safeguarding Manager for advice.
5.3.8 Poor Practice
Poor practice should initially be reported to the Safeguarding team who may choose to deal with it (particularly if either the adult concerned is already know to the Safeguarding team or if there have been a number of incidents of poor practice raised at a particular club which the club does not appear to be capable of dealing with) or may refer the issue back to the club/league to deal with internally. In these situations the club/league must report back on their findings.
5.4 WHAT ACTION TO TAKE TO REPORT CONCERNS, REPORT A DISCLOSURE OR AN ALLEGATION
On becoming aware of or witnessing a concern, receiving a disclosure or an allegation or a breach of this Policy you should:
In the case of Abuse:
ï€ Contact the CWO who will report to the RFL Safeguarding Manager ï€ If the CWO is not available report your concerns direct to the RFL Safeguarding Manager ï€ The RFL Safeguarding Manager will report to the RFL Safeguarding Case Management Group or the statutory agencies as appropriate
ï€ If neither the CWO or the Safeguarding Manger is available and immediate action is required to protect the child contact Children’s Social Care or the police as appropriate
In the case of Poor Practice:
ï€ Contact the CWO who will report to the RFL Safeguarding Manager ï€ If the CWO is not available report your concerns direct to the RFL Safeguarding Manager
5.5 ADVICE ON ACTION TO BE TAKEN IF A CHILD DISCLOSES TO YOU
The points below set out general principles to be followed with all concerns, allegations and disclosures.
If a child informs you directly that he/she, or another child, is concerned about someone’s behaviour towards them (this is termed a ‘disclosure’) then:
The person receiving the information should:
ï€ React calmly so as not to frighten or deter the child ï€ Believe what the child is telling you ï€ Tell the child he/she is not to blame and that he/she was right to tell ï€ Ensure the immediate safety of the child ï€ If the child needs immediate medical treatment, take them to hospital or telephone for an ambulance, inform doctors of the concerns and make sure that they know that this is a Safeguarding issue ï€ Take what the child says seriously, recognising the difficulties inherent in interpreting what is said by a child who has speech disability and/or differences in language ï€ Keep any questions to the minimum required to ensure a clear and accurate understanding of what has been said ï€ Do not ask leading questions or make suggestions about what may have happened ï€ Reassure the child but do not make promises of confidentiality which might not be feasible in the light of subsequent developments ï€ In the event of suspicion of sexual abuse do not let the child shower or w