Safeguarding is the protection of people from harm, abuse and/or neglect.
The IHAA takes a firm position on the importance of protecting the wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults within horseback archery. The IHAA aims to educate and support its member associations, their officials and coaches, in developing robust safeguarding measures.
Effective safeguarding is a culture and a responsibility of all within a community. It is not the responsibility of a single safeguarding officer but a habit for all members to be attuned to their duty to follow the set safeguarding processes, procedures, policies and practices which will protect the vulnerable from harm.
The primary aim of safeguarding measures is to protect children and vulnerable adults. However member associations will find that an added benefit of having good safeguarding procedures and transparency, is the protection of their coaches and officials from untrue allegations.
An overview of safeguarding is provided below. Member associations needing assistance in developing their own safeguarding structure can request this assistance through their national representative.
What is Child Abuse?
“Child abuse is any action by another person – adult or child – that causes significant harm to a child. It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can just as often be about a lack of love, care and attention. We know that neglect, whatever form it takes, can be just as damaging to a child as physical abuse. An abused child will often experience more than one type of abuse, as well as other difficulties in their lives. It often happens over a period of time, rather than being a one-off event. And it can increasingly happen online.”
There are four main categories of abuse:
Physical Abuse is a form of abuse which may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.
Bodily Harm may be caused through participation in sport, by:
• over training or dangerous training of athletes
• over playing an athlete
• failure to do a risk assessment of physical limits or pre-existing medical conditions
• administering, condoning or failure to intervene in drug use
Other signs of physical abuse include multiple injuries (i.e. bruising, fractures) inflicted at different times. It is particularly concerning if parents/carers are unable to explain these injuries and it is not clear whether they took the child to receive medical treatment at the time of the injury.
Sexual Abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non–penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non–contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
Emotional Abuse is where persistent emotional maltreatment of a child cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or “making fun” of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond a child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve serious bullying (including cyber bullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Examples of Emotional Abuse in Sport
• Persistent failure to show any respect to a child e.g. continually ignoring a child.
• Constantly humiliating a child by telling them they are useless.
• Continually being aggressive towards a child which makes them feel frightened.
• Acting in a way which is detrimental to the child’s self-esteem.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and / or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
• provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment)
• protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger
• ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care–givers)
• ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
Examples of Neglect in Sport
• Exposing a child to extreme weather conditions e.g. heat and cold.
• Failing to seek medical attention for injuries.
• Exposing a child to risk of injury through the use of unsafe equipment.
• Exposing a child to a hazardous environment without a proper risk assessment of the activity.
• Failing to provide adequate nutrition and water.
Grooming is defined as “Communication with a child / vulnerable adult where there is an intention to meet and commit a sex offence”.
More generally it can be seen as the process by which an individual manipulates all those around him/her, the victim and others too, in order to provide opportunities to commit abuse and reduce the likelihood of being reported or discovered. The abuser will also attempt to manipulate the circumstances in which he/she is working to enhance the likelihood of working in an unobserved one to one situation with that person.
Abusers come from all sections of society and are often perceived by others as respectable, reliable and trustworthy people. Research tells us that the vast majority of abusers are well known to the child and often hold a position of trust or authority. Recent research has found that sporting organisations are the third largest arena for incidents of sexual abuse.
The key factors which enable a coach or official to exploit a child are:
Through their relationship within sport, a coach/authority figure might develop an opportunity or excuse to meet the child outside the normal training venue where there is increased vulnerability. The victim may feel unable to refuse the offer or be flattered by the invitation.
2. Malicious intent of the coach/authority figure
The coach/authority figure may have the ulterior motive of developing an inappropriate relationship with the child/vulnerable adult. Utilisation of psychological control or bullying behaviour whilst coaching, and associated moral disengagement by both parties, might facilitate the crossing of normal boundaries for acceptable relationships.
3. Athlete vulnerability
By virtue of the power imbalance with their coach/authority figure, the child is vulnerable. The victim might view inappropriate behaviour by the coach/authority figure as acceptable in order to achieve or advance their goals within the sport. Conversely the victim may be uncomfortable with a situation or the behaviour of the coach/authority figure, but reluctant to question or raise concerns for fear of jeopardising their future opportunities within the sport.
Best practice protocols should be developed:
- To identify individuals with prior convictions
- To avoid opportunities for coaches/authority figures to gain sole access to vulnerable persons
- Easily accessible and non-judgemental means of communication to report concerns
- Detailed records of reports and referrals and a secure location (filing of paper records or protected online archive) to store them
If abuse remains a secret, abusers will continue to abuse. If someone speaks about the abuse, this allows us to end the abuse, support the victim(s) and may open the door to treatment for the abuser. To this end a reporting system within Member Associations is essential. The contact details of the association’s Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) should be freely available to all members of the association. The DSL should be independent from the association’s hierarchy and possess good knowledge of local child-protection procedures.
General responsibility of coaches
Through their routine and non-routine contact with trainees and competitors, coaches have a responsibility to:
• provide a safe environment in which trainees can learn and competitors can compete
• identify concerns early, to prevent them from escalating
• identify trainees and competitors who may benefit from early safeguarding help
• know what to do if a trainee or competitor tells them he/she is being abused or neglected
• follow the referral process (see below) if they have a concern
If a coach has any concerns about a trainee or competitor who may be being abused, they must record their concern and pass it on to the designated person for safeguarding review without delay.
It is always better to say something than say nothing at all.
Further guidance will be available directly from the IHAA to member associations for:
• How coaches should respond to a disclosure
• The role of the DSL (Designated Safeguarding Lead)
The IHAA was established in late 2013.
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