Sport is vital in the growth and development of children and young people and Tennis clubs provide opportunities for children to take part in exciting, challenging and healthy activities. All organisations that work with children have a shared duty to ensure that they benefit from a safe, enjoyable environment and are protected from abuse.  CTC has systems in place to promote and maintain the highest standards possible, and to respond quickly to any concerns.

Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government, 2015) is a detailed government guidance document that applies to all organisations working with children. It stresses that organisations have a responsibility to work together, within a common framework, to ensure that those who come into contact with children are skilled and safe and to ensure that concerns are properly acted upon.  Additionally, The LTA’s Safeguarding Department provides a wide range of resources and support to tennis organisations to help them meet their responsibilities.

The code of conduct for people working with children provides clear guidance on the types of attitude and conduct that help make tennis clubs safe, positive and friendly places for children.   CTC has adopted this code and Coaches and volunteers follow the guidance.

The specific steps that we take at CTC are:

  • Using the guide to safer recruitment so that we find the right people to work with and around junior members,
  • Using the self-declaration form for coaches and volunteers,
  • Employing the policy on the use of images of children and young people so that there is safe and appropriate use of films and photographs of children under 18,
  • Using the guidelines for travelling and, where appropriate, staying away. The guidance outlines all the major considerations, including transport, supervision, medical emergencies, nutrition and codes of conduct. It also covers what to do if child safety concerns arise, and includes a comprehensive checklist for away fixtures and overnight stays.
  • Using a junior club membership form so that we gather the basic information needed to properly care for our junior members. (This form also seeks consent for activities and events where children and young adults are taken on trips or to special events.
  • Using an incident report form if there are ever any concerns about incidents in which a child’s safety or welfare was placed at risk.

Safeguarding and protecting: what’s the difference?

‘Safeguarding’ applies to all the work we do to provide a safe, positive and friendly environment for children.  We have adopted an open, accountable and responsible approach, based on the steps above, to make every effort to prevent problems before they occur.

Protecting’ refers to the procedures that come into force when there is a particular concern or incident. Good safeguarding will help us to reduce the need for protection but it is vital that we have rigorous and clear procedures in place in case a problem arises.  If a child suggests that they are being abused, or if an adult reports abuse or bad practice that could put a child’s welfare at risk, these procedures will be followed by everyone involved.  Our Welfare Officer (WO) is Maria Kaverina (07989 650131) and she will take the lead if a problem arises.  In particular, she will liaise with county LTA and/or national LTA Child Protection.

Recognising signs of abuse

Most of our work as a club focuses on tennis and we keep the potential dangers in a proper perspective. The safeguarding measures suggested here (and in other LTA guidance documents) are mainly intended to help us deliver tennis in a safe environment. This will help young people to feel supported and ensure that most problems are tackled before they become serious.

We do recognise the importance of understanding the different forms of child abuse, and of the possible signs that abuse is occurring. Although this will not be the main focus of our safeguarding and protection measures, a basic knowledge will help prevent a child from coming to harm. To support our efforts, Maria Kaverina, Derek Rogers and Alan Coulthard have attended the appropriate Safeguarding training workshops.

What is abuse and neglect? – abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child.  Somebody 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 in an institutional or community setting; by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger; by an adult or adults or another child or children.

Physical abuse 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.

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning or preventing the child from participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may also involve serious bullying causing children 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.

Sexual abuse – sexual abuse may involve forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities or non-contact activities such as looking at pornographic material or watching sexual activities or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs so as to cause serious impairment of the child’s health or development.  Neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food and clothing, shelter, including exclusion from home or abandonment, failing to protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger, failure to ensure adequate supervision including the use of inadequate care-takers or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglecting or ignoring a child’s basic emotional needs.

Bullying may be defined as deliberately hurtful behaviour, usually repeated over a period of time, where it is difficult for those bullied to defend themselves. It can take many forms, but the three main types are physical (e.g. hitting, kicking, theft), verbal (e.g. racist or homophobic remarks, threats, name calling) and emotional (e.g. isolating an individual from the activities and social acceptance of their peer group). The damage inflicted by bullying can frequently be underestimated. It can cause considerable distress to children, to the extent that it affects their health and development or, at the extreme, causes significant harm (including self-harm).

Responding to a concern

It can be very difficult to identify that abuse or neglect is occurring or that someone’s poor conduct is having a serious impact on a child. It’s not always a question of identifying the visible signs of abuse; often, a child or adult speaking out raises concerns. Children may not be able to give a clear explanation of what has happened but will indicate that something is wrong.  If such a situation emerges when you are caring for a child, you must listen to make sure that the child receives all the necessary help and support.  These five steps should be followed if a concern is raised or becomes apparent:

  • Stay calm and reassure the child.
  • Remember, it takes a lot of courage for a child to disclose a problem and he/she usually wants you to help. Therefore, you should not make promises of confidentiality but be clear that you may have to contact other people who will be able to help.
  • Listen carefully to what the child says and do not suggest ideas. Keep questioning to a minimum, use open questions, and record the conversation as soon as you can. Record precise words and phrases (as closely as possible) and be clear to make a distinction between fact and opinion.
  • Report the concern to the Maria Kaverina (WO).
  • Do not discuss the concerns with others until you have reported them as above and then only with other appropriate individuals

Chelmsfordians Tennis Committee (Revised December 2016)