child protection for youth soccer coaches
It's a sad fact that many children are abused sexually, emotionally or physically.
As a soccer coach you are in a unique position to spot any signs of abuse among your children. It is vital, therefore, that you are able to recognise the signs of abuse and know what to do if you suspect anything untoward.
You also have a responsibility not to abuse the children in your care by bullying or criticising them in front of their peers. You must also make sure that you do not expose your children to extremes of weather, leave your children unsupervised, tell them to 'get on with it!' when they have been injured or train them in an over intense or in a way inappropriate to their age.
All these are forms of child abuse.
You should find that most clubs have a Child Protection Officer (CPO) whose job it is to brief the club coaches about their responsibilities in this area. But if you are either working on your own or within a club that has no CPO you'll have to teach yourself about this important and sensitive subject.
Please read the following carefully and always bear it in mind.
Both boys and girls can be sexually abused. Abuse can include: full sexual intercourse, masturbation, oral sex, fondling showing children pornographic books or videos or taking pornographic photographs or videos.
Children can be physically abused by hitting, shaking, squeezing, biting or burning. In soccer, as with all sports, physical abuse may occur when the nature and intensity or training exceeds the capacity of the child's body.
Physical abuse can also occur when adults fail to meet a child's basic physical needs. e.g. food, warmth and clothing.
Neglect in soccer might occur if a coach fails to ensure her children are safe or exposes them to extreme weather conditions or potential injury.
Emotional abuse in soccer may include situations where parents or coaches subject children to constant criticism, bullying or unrealistic pressure to perform to high expectations.
Stop what you are doing and respect the child’s privacy. Stay calm and reassuring. Listen to what they tell you. Tell them that whatever the circumstances they are not to blame. Do not react in a way which may add to the child's distress, e.g. anger or shock. Explain that you cannot promise to keep what the child tells you a secret as you may have to tell someone else.
Do not question the child in depth and do not ask leading questions. i.e. questions that need a "yes" or "no" answer. Only ask questions to establish exactly what was done and who did it.
Tell the child that you are pleased they decided to tell someone and that they are absolutely right to do so. Let the child know that you understand how difficult it is to talk about such experiences.
Inform the Team Manager (unless implicated).
Do not contact parents until you have received advice. Make an accurate record of the time and date and exactly what was said.
IF A CHILD DISCLOSE ABUSE
It is the duty of all League Management, Referees, Club Officials, Team Managers and any other individuals directly or indirectly involved with member clubs or teams playing in leagues to be aware of and help prevent child abuse.
The children's welfare is paramount and all children, whatever age, culture, disability, gender or religious belief, have the right to protection from abuse.
All suspicions and allegations of abuse should be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
You must NOT:
download the The Sport England child protection policy
download child protection material from thefa.com