Youth Protection

Introduction

This resource has been compiled with the help of documentation supplied by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI).

The NYCI aims to both support and resource all aspects of Youth activity in Ireland, by meeting minimum standards of acceptable practices, for the benefit, and well-being of both the Youth individual, the group, and those with the responsibility of organising and running the group.

The Irish National Darts Organisation (INDO) is committed to the running of a successful, safe, and enjoyable environment for its Youth players, and the contents of this document will help to provide the guidelines and parameters in which it will endeavour to do so.

Further information can be found at www.childprotection.ie

Code of Behaviour

A code of behaviour for young people helps to explain their rights and responsibilities when taking part in a club’s activities. It also provides guidelines for what is deemed as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour towards their peers, and also the persons undertaking the organisation of the activity they are taking part in.

The INDO would like all members to observe the following Code of Behaviour for Youth Members and vice versa:

  • Each member will treat other members with respect at all times.
  • Inappropriate behaviour includes, but is not limited to:

-          Repeated foul

-          Stealing

-          Violent / Bullying behaviour

-          Drug / Substance abuse

-          Alcohol use

-          Inappropriate personal contact / invasion of personal space

  • Whenever possible, the assistance of a parent will be sought after, to help deal with unacceptable behaviour.

  • Formal matters will not be entered into without the approval of parents, and then with parents present.

  • The INDO Disciplinary code will apply wherever possible when dealing with issues.

  • If an issue arises, the Youth player should consult the Youth Manager or Youth Officer in the first instance for support wherever possible.

  • In order for all senior members who will be in contact with, through organisation of events, Youth Members, all Committee Officers, including the Youth Officer, will be provided with guidance and information through the completion of the Child Protection Course.

  • The details of this course can be found at www.childprotection.ie

Risk Assessment and Planning

Conducting a Risk Assessment as part of the organisations planning will enable any possible risks / dangers to be identified, as well as a sensible plan for dealing with / or minimising the risks during day to day activities. The INDO has identified the following risks, and plans to minimise them:

  • Alcohol Consumption

Because many of the venues for activities serve alcohol, it is important to minimise the risk of Youth members consuming such beverages. With this in mind, it has been agreed that signs will be put in place stating “Alcohol Prohibited – Youth dart Tournament in Progress” at all Youth Tournaments. On occasion where mixed events are being held, with Youth members mixing with senior members, it will be the responsibility of the Youth Officer, and the Committee in attendance, to ensure alcohol is not consumed by underage members.

  • Accident Prevention & Treatment

It is accepted that slips, trips, and falls are a risk in almost every recreational environment, and although risk of a major injury is low, the risk of minor ones still prevail.

It has been agreed that the Youth Manager, and Youth Officer, as a minimum, will attend an accredited First Aid Course in a timely manner after their appointment.

At the start of each year, parents will be asked to sign a Parental Consent Form, giving their permission for First Aid to be administered, where appropriate, to their child, and / or permission to admit to hospital in the case of more serious instances. Parental contact will be made in such instances. The INDO will always have a fully stocked First Aid Kit on site at events, with its upkeep the responsibility of the Youth Officer and General Secretary.

  • Fire Prevention

Many Ranking venues will have in place a Fire Prevention policy, and this is accepted by the INDO. During events, it will be the responsibility of the Committee in general to ensure that fire exits are clearly identified, and that the set up and running of events does not compromise fire exits, escape routes etc.

  • Risk of Inappropriate Liaison

In a public venue, with members of the community at large in attendance, there is always a risk of behaviour towards a Youth which can be deemed inappropriate on the grounds of sex, race, culture, or other headings.

To help to minimise this, the events will be held in a room separate from other venue activities. In addition to this, and to provide peace of mind to both the individual and parent, each Committee member, including the Youth Officer, will be Garda Vetted every three years.

Ratios When Working with Young People

The NYCI recommends that, for the safe, and efficient working of events involving young people, there needs to be an agreed minimum ratio of young persons to senior persons. This is never a one size fits all ratio, but for the purpose of the running of events, the INDO has agreed to implement the following:

  • As a general rule, there will be 1 senior member for every 8 young person’s participating in an event plus 1 other.

  • A minimum of 2 senior members (suitably Garda vetted, and CPC trained) will be present at all events involving young persons.

  • Where young members are a mix of boys and girls, the mix of senior members will also reflect this.

  • In the event of illness or other unfortunate circumstance, where the above ratios cannot be met, the Senior Committee member in attendance at the time will decide on the course of action to be taken. The views of parents should be asked in this decision-making process. If agreed by all, an event can proceed without the above numbers being satisfied.

  • In this instance, every effort must be made to ensure the next event is fully compliant.

One to One Interaction

Situations may arise, where either the Youth member, or senior member, request to discuss a particular matter in a one to one format. This could simply be for matters of privacy but could also be for other reasons.

The INDO recognises this, and has agreed that, wherever possible, such encounters are conducted in the following manner:

  • For the Youth member, the first point of contact, wherever possible, should be the Youth Officer or a member of the INDO committee in their absence.

  • Meetings / discussions should take place for a reactive situation, in an area with visible access to other members wherever it is possible.

  • Meetings / discussions should take place at an appropriate time.

  • Where relevant, the Senior member should take notes of what is being discussed, and the document signed by both parties. Parents can ask to see the notes if desired.

  • Meetings / discussions should not take place where the concerned parties are the only people in the room at any time.

  • Parents can be asked to attend the discussion if deemed appropriate. They may also request attendance.

  • Where meetings / discussions are arranged with more than one Youth member, it is advised that more than one senior member is also in attendance, and of like sex.

Appropriate Physical Contact

Certain activities with Youth work involve some level of physical contact. Where this is applicable, it must be done in ways which are deemed appropriate to their role / responsibilities.

The INDO recognises the following:

  • Any form of physical punishment is unlawful, and should not, for any reason, be carried out.

  • Any form of physical response to misbehaviour is also unlawful and may only be considered in the form of restraint, in order to protect others or the individual involved.

  • Congratulatory physical contact such as handshakes pats on the back, or “high fives” are deemed acceptable. In these circumstances, hugging a Youth member could be misinterpreted and should be avoided if possible.

  • Physical contact should take into account religious or cultural differences, and always be gender appropriate.

  • There may be occasion where a young person may be distressed and need comfort. Every effort should be made to ensure the level of comfort provided is both appropriate to the situation, and gender appropriate.

  • A Youth members wishes must always be respected in the way they accept physical contact. For example, they may not enjoy being hugged, and prefer a handshake as a “well done”

Safe Use of Social Media

The use of social media in regard to youth activities, can present its own problems and challenges, detracting from the real reason for using it.

The INDO has its own Facebook page, to which Youth members are invited to contribute. With this in mind, the INDO strongly stresses the following guidelines:

  • The use of Social Media can breach the boundaries between the Youth, and Senior member. Whereas interacting with a Youth member on Social media is acceptable, it must be done in a public arena, and not a private message wherever possible.

  • If a complaint is made by a Youth member about the conduct of a Senior member on Social media, then appropriate steps can be taken to correct this, including the involvement of the Gardai.

  •  Senior members have a responsibility to ensure their language on Social media is such that it mirrors the Code of Behaviour outlined earlier. Persistent breaches of the Code of Behaviour on Social media may have the Senior member removed from the group for a period of time or indefinitely as agreed by Committee.
  • Inappropriate images will not be posted by any member on Social media.
  •  All Members are responsible for what they do online.

Transporting Young People

In general, it is advised that those people responsible for youths, avoid giving lifts to them alone, especially on long journeys. As well as this, the INDO recognises the following in respect to transporting junior members:

  •  In all cases, parental consent must be given to transport Youth members, however short the journey. This can be verbal for some instances, but wherever possible, written consent is preferred. 
  • Senior members must avoid, where possible, transporting Youths of the opposite sex unless accompanied by additional same sex seniors.

  • Senior members must have contact details of the parents of their passengers, and vice versa, to advise of any delays for either party.

  • Preferred mode of transport is a bus or coach, where youths and seniors can travel together with a designated driver, who is suitably insured.

  •  Seat belts are to be worn at all times.

  • Any INDO official transporting Youth members has to be Garda vetted as a minimum requirement.

  • All vehicles used to transport youths must be of roadworthy condition, insured, taxed, and with a valid NCT.

  • Parents should endeavour to ring their child part way through a journey, at least once to verify everything is well.

Planning a Day / Overnight Trip

From time to time, the INDO will invite a panel of Youth players to play in tournaments around the country. Some of these may involve an overnight stay, in a hotel or B&B.

To this end, the INDO observes the following guidelines:

  • Has suitable transportation been arranged? (see previous section)
  • Are parents staying with their children? We would normally advise that they do, but in instances where they cannot be accompanied, then it is the responsibility of the Counties Youth Officer / Manager to ensure all requirements are met.
  • All unaccompanied Youth members must have consent forms signed by their parents and returned to County Secretaries.
  •  When staying overnight, Youth members will be accommodated bearing in mind their age, sex, and personal requirements. Youths should be placed with friends / siblings wherever possible.
  • The Senior members in charge of Youths should be staying in rooms close by, in case of concern, and their room location made known to all Youths as such.
  • Adequate provision must be given for food / refreshments.
  • Curfews can be introduced if deemed necessary, but reasons must be explained beforehand.
  • After an event has finished, the Senior members will still be responsible for all unaccompanied Youths until curfew has been reached, and “lights out” has been confirmed.

Planning A Trip Abroad

The NYCI recognises that many youth organisations bring their members on trips abroad, indeed the INDO is no exception. The calendar for Youths included either a European or World cup on alternative years. However, this may not always be the extent of trips abroad. To this end, the INDO wishes to consider the following, which would need to be checked against, as part of trip planning:

  • Have the Youths and their parents been a part of the planning process? Items such as specific codes of behaviour for a trip abroad, boundaries for “free time”, and curfew are all things the Youth players and parents can be a part of planning.

  • Have parents / those with responsibility, been informed of the details of the trip well in advance, know the itinerary, reviewed the suitability of this policy against the trip, consented to their child attending in writing, given contact details, informed the organisation of their child's allergies, dietary requirements, and been informed of any costs involved?

  •  Have those responsible at the INDO checked all paperwork is in place, for example passports?

  • Relevant insurance?

  • Produced a detailed check in and debrief session prior to event starting?

  • Other things such as currency, time zone, vaccinations, cultural differences, may also need to be taken into account.

  • Normal ratios should be reviewed and amended if needed.

Responding to Challenging Behaviour

If the occasion should arise, then an example of challenging behaviour from a Youth member would be dealt with under the following guidelines wherever possible:

  • Observing the Code of Behaviour.

  •  With the support / approval of parents.

  • Possibility of a “time out” period from activities, where “cooling off” can happen.

  • De-escalation of the problem where possible, giving an opportunity to talk the matter through. 

  • Possible sanctions imposed, for example exclusion from the next event, if the circumstances were justified.

  • Create an environment where the Youth member is made to feel comfortable and is allowed to talk freely about things from their point of view.

  • Speak to others who may have witnessed the event, to provide balance and fair hearing.

  • Give the individual a chance of reparation- a chance to put things right and make amends. For example, a verbal or written apology to affected parties.

  • Senior members must never respond to the behaviour by way of intimidation, bullying, or any other unethical response.

  • Deal with anything arising in as swift and timely manner as is possible. This will benefit all parties and show willingness to move on.

Communicating / Involvement with Parents / Guardians

The INDO have seen through time that the parents of Youth members are so often past or even present playing members themselves. This shows a dedication to support the organisation, and a level of respect and trust placed in those responsible for its smooth running.

Parents are key in both supporting, and resolving issues relating to their children, and the relationship the Committee and Youth Manager has with them cannot be underestimated. The INDO would like to note the following:

  • Written Parental Consent forms should be filled out each year in respect to trips away, first aid, contact details, and any other relevant information they feel the INDO should be aware of.
  • Parents should be given an opportunity to express their concerns where applicable, through proper channels.
  • Parents should be offered the same courtesy as playing members, and have their voices heard.
  • Parents need to be made aware of any unusual financial constraints that may arise in relation to their child attending events, so as to have the chance to plan and budget ahead.
  • At appropriate times, the organisation should seek to obtain feedback from parents in regard to Youth events, their opinion needs to be valued and considered for moving the organisation in the right direction where appropriate.

Further Information & Resource

www.childprotection.ie for information on safeguarding and child protection with Youth work.

www.tusla.ie for general information on child protection & safeguarding.

www.dcya.ie for information from the Department of Children & Youth Affairs.

www.dcya.gov.ie/documents/youthaffairs/youth_cpyws.pdf for Code of Good Practise for the Youth Sector.

www.dcya.gov.ie/documents/Publications/ChildrenFirst.pdf for National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011.