Code of Conduct for Working with Children
This code of conduct outlines the behaviour expected of all staff, volunteers, members and coaches working with children in the name of the Club. It should be interpreted in a spirit of integrity, transparency and common sense, with the best interests of children and adults at risk as the primary consideration.
Following this code will help to protect children from abuse and inappropriate behaviour from adults. It will help staff and volunteers maintain the standard of behaviour expected of them and will reduce the possibility of unfounded allegations of abuse being made against them.
When working with children all staff and volunteers are acting in a position of trust. It is important that staff and volunteers are aware that they may be seen as role models by children and must act an in an appropriate manner at all times.
Any staff or volunteer that breaches this Code of Conduct may be subject to the Club’s Disciplinary Policy. Serious breaches may result in a referral being made to a statutory agency.
For the purposes of this document, a child is defined as any person under the age of 18 in line with the Children Act 1989. Staff are defined as employees, casual workers and/or self employed individuals/companies engaged by the Club to provide activities for children. Volunteers are non-professional ‘helpers’ and will usually be members of the Club.
Good Practice Guidelines
Good practice means:
- Operating within the Club’s principles and guidance and any specific procedures.
- Always working in an open environment avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication.
- Listening to and treating all children equally with respect and dignity.
- Always putting the welfare of each child first.
- Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance with children (e.g. it is not appropriate for staff or volunteers to have an intimate relationship with a child or to share a room with them, but it might be appropriate to hold the hand of a child who has become separated from their parent or guardian).
- Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust and empowering children to share in decision making.
- Making sport and activities fun, enjoyable and promoting fair play.
- Ensuring that if any form of manual/physical support is required, it should be provided openly and according to guidelines provided by the Coach Education Programme or appropriate professional body. If it is difficult to maintain hand positions when the child is constantly moving, children should always be consulted and their agreement gained. Parents’/legal guardians’ views should always be carefully considered in relation to manual support.
- Keeping up to date with technical skills, qualifications and insurance.
- Involving parents/legal guardians wherever possible (e.g. encouraging them to take responsibility for their children in the changing rooms. If groups have to be supervised in the changing rooms, always ensure parents/legal guardians, teachers, coaches or officials work in pairs).
- Ensuring that if mixed teams are taken away for the day or night, they should always be accompanied by a male and female member of staff. However, remember that same gender abuse can also occur.
- Ensuring that at tournaments or residential events, adults should not enter children’s rooms or invite children into their rooms.
- Being an excellent role model – this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of children.
- Giving enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.
- Recognising the developmental needs and capacity of children – avoiding excessive training or competition and not pushing them against their will.
- Keeping a written record of any injury that occurs, along with the details of any treatment given.
- Requesting written consent from parents/legal guardians if Club officials are required to transport children in their cars.
Practices to be Avoided
The following should be avoided except in emergencies and with the full knowledge and consent of a Head of Department, Executive, the Safeguarding Officer or the child’s parents/legal guardians:
- Spending excessive amounts of time alone with children away from others.
- Taking or dropping off a child to an event.
It may sometimes be necessary for staff or volunteers to do things of a personal nature for children, particularly if they are young or are disabled. These tasks should only be carried out with the full understanding and consent of parents/legal guardians and the children involved. There is a need to be responsive to a person’s reactions. If a person is fully dependent on you, talk with him/her about what you are doing and give choices where possible. This is particularly so 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.
You should never:
- Either exaggerate or trivialise child abuse issues.
- Adopt an attitude of complacency with regard to your own conduct.
- Let children have your person contact details (e.g. mobile number or address).
- Develop inappropriate relationships such as contact with children that is not part of the work of the Club or agreed with the Head of Department.
- Engage in rough physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay.
- Share a room with a child.
- Allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching.
- Allow children to use inappropriate language unchallenged.
- Make sarcastic, insensitive, derogatory or sexually suggestive comments or gestures to or in front of children, even in fun.
- Allow allegations made by a child to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon.
- Do things of a personal nature for children that they can do for themselves.
- Invite or allow children to stay with you at your home unsupervised.
- Conduct a sexual relationship with a child. It is illegal to have a relationship with someone who is under 18 years old if you are in a position of trust; it is illegal to have a sexual relationship with anyone under the age of 16 whether they give consent or not.
Any such behaviour in the examples above represent a serious breach of trust on the part of the staff member or volunteer and is not acceptable under any circumstances. This list is not exhaustive.
Social Media, Online and Digital Communications Guidance
Staff, members and volunteers working with children at the Club should always seek the advice of the Designated Safeguarding Officer if in any doubt about appropriate communication with children at the Club.
Communications concerning children’s activities, events or facilities at the Club are usually sent out by the Communications Department. More specific communications intended for, or about children or young people, will be sent to their parents by the relevant department at the Club. Some member communities contact parents direct via email, messaging apps or other digital communication. In general social media should not be used for direct communications.
If staff, members or volunteers wish to communicate directly with young people at the Club, they should seek the advice of the Designated Safeguarding Officer. Group messaging apps, such as Whatsapp, are permitted for communication with older children where needed, but must be created with the knowledge and authorisation of the Designated Safeguarding Officer, the consent of the parents of the children in the group, and must relate to established communities or sports teams within the Club. The Designated Safeguarding Officer must be included in the messaging group. Any messages sent in this way should be appropriate in content and style, signed off in a professional manner, and not include the use of “kisses” (“X”s). Photographs should not be distributed if it invades other’s privacy and no pictures should be sent which are obscene, indecent or menacing. Typical use of these groups would be for reminding young people about an upcoming event, or to bring a certain type of kit, and not for engaging in conversation.
Staff, members and volunteers should not “friend” or “follow” children or young people from personal accounts on social media. They should ensure any information they post on their own accounts is accurate and appropriate, and they should not communicate with young people via personal accounts or private messages.
Who to Contact
If you have any concerns about poor practice or suspected abuse, please contact the Designated Safeguarding Officer in the first instance. This is Victoria Harris, Deputy Secretary – 020 7610 7415, 07500 893814 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are worried about sharing concerns regarding abuse with the Club’s Designated Safeguarding Officer, you can contact the following people:
- Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) – 020 8753 5125 or LADO@lbhf.co.uk
- NSPCC Helpline – 0808 800 5000
- Childline – 0800 1111
- The police in an emergency – 999