Plan International Hong Kong has conducted the first-ever Situation Analysis Research on Child Safeguarding Policy (CSP) in the sports sector. With 20 proposed child safeguarding policy standards developed with comprehensive literature review, this study attempts to benchmark the implementation of child safeguarding policy in local sports organisations against the global standards. It also aims at analysing the factors influencing the level of CSP implementation, including the understanding on child abuse, attitudes towards CSP and if any barriers exist which affect the level of CSP implementation. For more details, please see the executive summary and research summary.
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Clear code of conduct allows staff to identify appropriate and inappropriate behaviors towards children and protect the safety of children. For example, requiring staff to avoid staying alone with children for a certain period of time and forbidding them to engage in any sexual relations with children can prevent children from falling victim into sexual abuse in the organisation. Setting up the rule of ‘no abusive or derogatory language’ can also help prevent children from suffering psychological abuse.
The usual and standard reply of many institutions would be: “The organisation will handle and follow-up the complaints of suspected child abuse seriously.” However, to understand whether child safety is really the top priority of the institution, you may ask the following questions:
To understand how the organisation ensures the safety of children, the most simple and direct way is to know whether it has a Child Safeguarding Policy in place and makes a pledge on putting the safety and welfare of children in their top priority. Of course, even if some organisations may not have clear policies on safeguarding children, it does not mean that they don’t have any relevant practices or procedures. If you want to know more about how the organisation protects the safety of children in different aspects, the following questions may serve as a reference for you.
Since 2012, employers offering positions which involve direct contact with children can check the sexual conviction record of prospective employees to ensure they are suitable for the job. You may ask if the organisation requires all its staff to go through the Sexual Conviction Record Check. One point to note is that the use of this mechanism is not a mandatory requirement by law, and it does not cover volunteers, private tuition tutors and existing employees under permanent contract.
The organisation needs to provide assistance and training to staff and anyone working around children so that they will know how to protect children in daily operation. When asking about child protection training, you may want to know if the staff understand the safety risks involved when children come into contact with the organisation, and whether they have the same standards and practices around issues related to child safety. For example, how do the staff handle the situation of bullying among children? Does the organisation put in place sufficient risk management measures to ensure the venue and every aspect of the organisation activities are safe for children?
Apart from staff, volunteers, partners and associates of the organisation may also come in contact with children and bring harm to them. You may want to know whether the Child Safeguarding Policy applies to all personnel who come in contact with children in the organisation with an acknowledgement of signature. You may also ask if all personnel have received assistance and training provided by the institution, and whether they have clear understanding of the Safeguarding Code of Conduct.
Children are the primary users of the services provided by the organisation. If they feel uncomfortable with any personnel or have safety concerns with the operation of the institution, they need to know who to turn to in order to reflect their concerns. Parents will also need to know how the organisation will keep in touch with them and keep them informed on their children’s situation in the organisation.
The organisation should store the personal information and photos of the child appropriately, respect and protect the privacy of the child by seeking the consent of the child and parent before disclosing personal information or photos of the child to the public.