Statement of Intent

It is the intent of Nemesis Cheerleading and Dance to safeguard, the welfare of all children and vulnerable people involved in the club activities in relation to accident and harm. This organisation aims to ensure a safe, supportive environment, inclusive to all athletes. Staff, leaders and helpers/ volunteers (including those under eighteen years old who may assist adult coaches) involved in any activity associated with the organisation are expected to display respect and understanding for the rights, welfare and safety of the children and vulnerable adults in their care and to conduct themselves in a manor that reflects the principles of Nemesis Cheerleading and Dance (NCD). Care will be taken to reduce risk of accident and injury to a minimum and protect children/ vulnerable adults from physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse while in the care and responsibility of NCD. Planned procedures will be used to support children in the care of NCD, therefore, outside agencies may be involved where necessary.

The senior coach (who will always be age eighteen or over) will be responsible for the supervision of any assistant coaches and volunteers during classes and activities. This policy will be available to all parents, volunteers, coaches and senior participants/ athletes. To ensure everyone can raise concerns or complaints and the procedure for responding to this.

Principles this Policy is built on

  • Children have a right to be protected from all forms of violence, to be kept safe from harm and given proper care.
  • Children have a right to be heard, listened to and taken seriously.
  • We have a responsibility towards the children and vulnerable adults in our care and should take all responsible steps to ensure their safety and their welfare is safe guarded.
  • Staff and volunteers at NCD have a responsibility to be alert to signs of abuse and follow procedures in cases of suspected or alleged abuse.
  • NCD have a responsibility to co-operate fully with other agencies involved in child protection and to follow procedures of abuse.

Definition and Recognition of Child Abuse

Children may be abused by a parent, guardian, sibling, other relative, carer (foster parent, staff member at a residential home) an acquaintance or stranger, who may be an adult or a young person. There are four main types of abuse:

  • Neglect which includes failing to protect a child from exposure to any kind of danger, such as, starvation or cold. Neglect also includes persistent failure to carry out aspects of care, resulting in significant impairment of a child’s health or development.
  • Physical injury which is deliberately inflicted, such as, biting, beating, burning or scalding. This can also be a result of wilful neglect failing to prevent the child from being injured.
  • Emotional abuse is any form of emotional ill treatment or rejection. Resulting in in-adverse effects emotional, physical and/or behavioural development of the child. This includes constant criticism, continuously withholding approval or affection, severe discipline or a complete lack of appropriate control.
  • Sexual abuse is the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents by involving them in sexual activities which they do not comprehend, are unable to give informed consent or violate the social taboos of family roles.

Bullying

Bullying is a highly distressing and damaging form of abuse and is not tolerated at NCD. All staff and volunteers are vigilant to signs of bullying and will take immediate steps to stop it happening, protect and reassure the victim.

Further guidance is available on bullying in our Anti-Bullying Policy.

Protection of Staff and Children

NCD recognises it’s responsibility to children, young people who take part in classes, as well as, staff and volunteers working with them. All members of staff, coaches and volunteers will be made aware of their responsibilities and what is expected of them. This includes the ode of conduct and behaviour they are expected follow, the line of accountability in the organisation and the procedures that need to be followed if there is an allegation of abuse.

Parents are expected to work alongside coaches, staff and volunteers in relation to any concerns about the behaviour of their child or young person. Dangerous or offensive behaviour of a child or young person, will be brought to the attention of the parents and persistent concerns could lead to the suspension and removal of the child or young person from classes and their team.

NCD is in receipt of public liability insurance covering accidents and allegations of harm cause by their coaches.

The safety and protection of children is the responsibility of all involved, including coaches, volunteers, junior coaches and parents. The aim of NCD is to work together to the children and young people participating in classes will be given the best possible opportunities and ensure they have the best possible safe guards against accident or harm, while allowing them to grow emotionally.

How Abuse Comes to Light

Staff can become aware of abuse through direct disclosure of the victim, through someone the victim has confided in passes this information on. This is second hand information and can be more complicated. Allegations can also arise through rumour or overheard comments. Each of these have their involvement different considerations. Any allegations of abuse should be made to the designated child protection officer. On receiving allegations of abuse If a coach, volunteer or other member of staff receives a disclosure of abuse from a child, or a report from a third party (including another child) or observed behaviour or a conversation which causes concern that abuse may have occurred, it is their responsibility to act to ensure protection of the child.

If you suspect abuse of a child or vulnerable adult, for reasons other than being told

  • You should report your concerns to the designated child protection officer or if unavailable the coach in charge of the session. To discuss your concerns.
  • Record your concerns as quickly as possible, to help with accuracy of timing later.
  • The child protection officer should contact social services to seek their advice and decide on how to contact the police and contact any other necessary child protection agencies. If for some reason this is not done by the protection officer you should do this yourself.
  • Appropriate records should be kept by the child protection officer you may need to assist them in completing these.
  • Do not investigate further, leave this to child protection professionals, who will follow appropriate guidelines, who may wish to speak to you.

If a child reports allegations of abuse to you or gives you information about possible abuse of another child or vulnerable adult

  • Listen respectfully and carefully, accepting the information at face value, always believe a child confiding in you.
  • Allow the child to speak without interrupting or attempting to investigate.
  • Support the child for giving you this information (to alleviate feelings of discomfort), pass no judgement on what you have heard.
  • Inform the child that you will offer them as much support as possible but that you will have to pass this information on to the child protection officer or relevant authorities.
  • Inform the child protection of what you have been told as soon as the situation warrants to ensure appropriate action can be taken.
  • Record everything the child/ vulnerable adult said, as quickly as possible in as much detail as possible. The child’s first disclosure is hearsay but is admissible as evidence in court and you will be interviewed by a child protection professional, about what you were told. Therefore, accurate recordings are necessary.
  • The child protection officer or failing that the coaching leading the session will inform parents/ guardians of the concerns, unless the child objects or a close family member is the alleged offender. In which case the child protection officer will coordinate with social services and the police in how to advise the parents/ guardian of the concern.

Never tell the child/ vulnerable adult

  • That you won’t tell anyone something they are about to disclose to you. You have a responsibility to follow necessary guidelines and pass this on to the designated child protection officer.
  • You cannot promise a child that the abuse will never happen again, because again you cannot make false promises to a child and you cannot guarantee this.
  • If a child shows lacerations, bruises etc you can sketch these, but under no lint should a child’s clothing be removed.
  • Do not interrupt the child while they are disclosing information to you and while tactile enquires can be made, you should not enquire to deeply. This is for child protection professionals.

Who to contact during allegations of abuse

Following concerns or allegations of abuse, the coach or volunteer will coordinate with the child protection officer, who will report the facts as known to

  • Coleraine Childcare office, Castlerock Road, Coleraine. 70352221
  • Ballymoney childcare team, Newall Road, Ballymoney. 27664101
  • The Out of Hours Social Work Service. 94468833
  • Coleraine Police Care Unit. 70344122

Advice given by these respective professionals should then be followed.

Independent Professional Advisor

In all cases NCD may wish to avail outside professional advice, without using identifying information, to help establish what is the safest and most balanced way of managing any specific situation that may arise.

Recruitment of Volunteers/ Junior Coaches

Any individual who wishes to participate as a volunteer or junior coach in any NCD classes or activities must complete the application form, supplied on request, providing the information required. This includes a declaration to in respect of any convictions they may have or any

investigations, by police or social services, they may have been subjected to in relation to child protection concerns. For adult volunteers this also includes the completion of a Access NI form.

Primary Roles of Staff and Volunteers

All members of staff should

  • All children should be treated with respect and listened to.
  • Be familiar with types of abuse and the main signs and symptoms associated.
  • Be alert to signs of abuse.
  • Be aware of how to respond to allegations/ signs of abuse.
  • Be aware of reporting procedures for signs/ allegations of abuse and how to follow them.
  • Always take a child’s allegation seriously and follow the duty of care to report the allegations of abuse.
  • Regardless of whether they are sure of the truthfulness of the allegations staff must follow their allegations through correct procedures to ensure their legal requirement.
  • Ensure written records, dated and signed.

Additional Details

What Needs to be Recorded

  • The nature of the information.
  • Who gave it.
  • Time, date and circumstances.
  • A description of how the concern relates to signs or symptoms of abuse.
  • Details of advice sought and who from.
  • Decision reached e.g. referral, social services.
  • If referral who made it and when.
  • If not reason for non referral and social services.
  • How the person who made the complaint or gave the information is informed of the referral. This information must be signed and dated by the child protection officer at the club.

Signs of Abuse

Physical abuse

Physical IndicatorsBehavioural Indicators
Unexplained bruises particularly if they are of a regular shape which may indicate use of an implement such as a strap, or the mark of a hand.Self destructive tendencies.
Human bite marks, or bald spots.Improbable excuses given to explain injuries.
Unexplained lacerations, burns, fractures or abrasions.Chronic runaway.
Untreated injuries.Aggressive or withdrawn.
Frequently repeated injuries.Fear of returning home.
Bruises of different ages on the child at any one time.Reluctant to have physical contact.
Facial bruising especially around the mouth, eyes or earsClothing inappropriate to weather – worn to hide part of the body.

Neglect

Physical IndicatorsBehavioural Indicators
Constant hunger.Tiredness, listlessness.
Poor state of personal hygiene.Poor social relationships with peers.
Inadequate or inappropriate clothing.Compulsive stealing, begging or scavenging.
Untreated medical problems.Attention seeking with adults.
Emaciation / distended stomach.Frequently absent or late.
Constant tiredness.Disinterested.
Withdrawn / lack of concentration.Low self-esteem
Failure to thrive / poor growth.Failure to seek or follow medical advice.
Lack of appetite and feeding difficulties.Inadequate supervision.
Poor academic attainment.
Poor school attendance.
(State of housing and physical environment should also be considered)

Sexual Abuse

Physical IndicatorsBehavioural Indicators
Soreness or bleeding in genital or anal areas or in the throat.Fearful of undressing for games / showers, etc.
Torn, stained or bloody underclothes.Chronically depressed / suicidal.
Chronic ailments such as stomach pains or headaches.Inappropriately seductive or precocious.
Difficulty in walking or sitting.Poor self-esteem, self-devaluation, lack of confidence.
Frequent urinary infections, or discharge / soiling.Having recurring nightmares / afraid of dark.
Sexually transmitted infections.Role reversal, overly concerned for siblings.
Unexplained pregnancies.Outbursts of anger / hysteria.
Anorexic / gross overeating.Poor relationship problems.
Recurrent unexplained abdominal pain.Jealousy.
Drawings or play activity which are specifically sexual..
Self mutilation.
Running away.
Truancy / school refusal.
Drug and alcohol abuse
  • A sudden change in behaviour or sexual knowledge and awareness in advance of what would be expected of the child’s level of development may indicate sexual abuse.
  • Children who are being sexually abused don’t necessarily display any behavioural disturbances.
  • For many children some of the above symptoms will be present and are not always associated with abuse. Emotional abuse

Neglect

Physical IndicatorsBehavioural Indicators
Constant hunger.Tiredness, listlessness.
Poor state of personal hygiene.Poor social relationships with peers.
Inadequate or inappropriate clothing.Compulsive stealing, begging or scavenging.
Untreated medical problems.Attention seeking with adults.
Emaciation / distended stomach.Frequently absent or late.
Constant tiredness.Disinterested.
Withdrawn / lack of concentration.Low self-esteem
Failure to thrive / poor growth.Failure to seek or follow medical advice.
Lack of appetite and feeding difficulties.Inadequate supervision.
Poor academic attainment.
Poor school attendance.
(State of housing and physical environment should also be considered)

Emotional Abuse

Physical IndicatorsBehavioural Indicators
Delayed language development.Impaired ability for enjoyment or play
Sudden speech disorders.Neurotic behaviour (e.g. rocking, hair twisting, thumb sucking).
Signs of self-mutilation (self- harm).Reluctance for parental liaison.
Signs of solvent abuse (e.g. mouth sores, smell of glue, drowsiness).Fear of new situation.
Extremes of physical, mental and emotional development (e.g. anorexia, vomiting, stooping).Chronic runaway.
Wetting and soiling.Inappropriate emotional response to painful situations.
Attention seeking behaviour.
Poor peer relationship.
Low self esteem and feeling worthless

Child protection officer at Nemesis

  • Head coach - Shania Watton