Child Welfare


Wandsworth Swimming Club Child Protection Policy

These procedures and guidelines were produced in conjunction with the ASA. The term “child” or “children” refer to all young people under the age of 18 years. Wandsworth Swimming Club has an ongoing commitment to the safety and protection of children in sport.

The welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility, particularly when it comes to protecting children from abuse. Everyone in Wandsworth Swimming Club – member, club official, coach, parent, friend and children themselves can help.

Abuse can occur anywhere there are children – at home, at school, in the park, at the club.

Sadly, there are some people who will seek to be where children are simply in order to abuse them. Everyone in WSC has a part to play in looking after the children with whom they are interacting. This is both a moral and, arguably, a legal obligation. The Children Act 1989 indicates that anyone who has the care of a child should “do what is reasonable in all the circumstances for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child’s welfare.”

These child protection procedures stem from the following principles:

• The child’s welfare is the paramount consideration

• All children, regardless of age, any disability they may have, gender, racial origin, religious belief and sexual identity have a right to be protected from abuse.

What is child abuse?

The Children Act (1989) and Working Together to Protect Children (1999) state that there are four main types of abuse - Physical, Sexual, Emotional and Neglect. Abuse may be the action or inaction of, for example, a coach, volunteer or paid helper, family member or another young athlete.

Physical Abuse is just what the term implies -hurting or injuring a child, for example, by hitting, shaking, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm. In a swimming context it might also occur if a child is forced to train beyond his/her capabilities, or the intensity of training disregards a disabled person’s impairment.

Sexual Abuse includes forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. In a sporting context it could involve inappropriate photography or videoing, for the sexual gratification of the viewer.

Emotional Abuse occurs when a child is not given love, help and encouragement and is constantly derided or ridiculed or, perhaps even worse, ignored. Conversely, it can also occur if a child is over protected. It is the persistent emotional ill treatment such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. In a swimming context this is present in the unrealistic expectations of parents and coaches over what a child can achieve, or the undermining of an athlete through ridicule. Bullying is likely to come into this category. Racially and sexually abusive remarks constitute emotional abuse and it can be a feature of bullying.

Neglect usually means the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and psychological needs, resulting in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. It may involve failing to provide food, warmth adequate clothing, medical attention etc. It could also mean failing to ensure they are safe or exposing them to harm. In a swimming context it may be when an athlete’s personal or intimate requirements are ignored, particularly if they are disabled.

Some indications

Recognizing child abuse is not always easy – even for the experts. The examples listed below are not a complete list and they are only indicators -not confirmation:

• Unexplained or suspicious injuries such as bruising, bites or burns, particularly if situated on a part of the body not normally prone to such injuries.

• The child says that she or he is being abused, or another person says they believe (or actually know) that abuse is occurring

• The child has an injury for which the explanation seems inconsistent or which has not been adequately treated

• The child’s behaviour changes, either over time or quite suddenly; and he or she becomes quiet and withdrawn, or alternatively becomes aggressive

• Refusal to remove clothing for normal activities or keeping covered up in warm weather

• The child appears not to trust adults, e.g. a parent or coach with whom she or he would be expected to have, or once had, a close relationship, and does not seem to be able to make friends

• He or she becomes increasingly neglected-looking in appearance, or loses or puts on weight for no apparent reason

• Pain or itching, bruising or bleeding in or near the genital area

• The child shows inappropriate sexual awareness for his/her age and sometimes behaves in a sexually explicit way.

Bear in mind that physically disabled children and young people are particularly vulnerable to abuse and may have added difficulties in communicating what is happening to them. Dependency on others for primary needs such as feeding, clothing and intimate care may make a young person feel powerless to report abusive treatment. A fear of retribution for “telling” can be a powerful “silencer”; difficulty in identifying abusive situations or behaviour may allow it to continue.

If you have concerns about the welfare of a child

Please remember, it’s not your responsibility to decide whether a child is being abused but we are asking you to act on your concerns. Make a detailed note of what you’ve seen or heard but don’t delay passing on the information to an appropriate person.

If you are a WSC member, or the parent/carer or friend of a member, you should:

• Tell a club officer such as the welfare officer, club secretary, chairperson or any committee member, coach or team manager – unless, of course, you suspect them of being involved.

• Ring Swimline 0808 100 4001. Swimline is the ASA’s helpline where you can talk to someone who understands both swimming and the requirements of child protection. If you need urgent advice you have the option to transfer to the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline.

If you are a club officer, coach or team manager you can:

• Talk to the child’s parents/carers about the concerns if you think there may be an obvious explanation such as a bereavement or pressure from studies/exams

• Ring the Swimline 0808 100 4001 or NSPCC Child Protection Helpline on 0808 800 500

• Contact the local Social Services Department or, in an emergency, the Police.

If you are working with swimmers away from home, at a training camp perhaps, or a national or regional competition, tell the Team Manager or the Head Coach.

Please remember to make a detailed note of what you’ve seen or heard but don’t delay passing on the information.

If a child tells you that he or she is being abused

• React calmly so as not to frighten or deter them.

• Reassure them that you are glad that they told you.

• Don’t promise to keep it to yourself.

• Explain that you need to make sure that they will be safe and may have to pass on the information to someone trusted to deal with it appropriately.

• Listen to what the child says and, please, take it seriously.

• Only ask questions if you need to clarify what the child is telling you – don’t ask the child about explicit details. Don’t ask leading questions (a leading question is one that pre-supposes the answer e.g. “Did Jim hit you?”).

• Make a detailed note of what the child has told you but, as advised in the previous section, please don’t delay passing on the information.

It is never easy to respond to a young person who tells you that they are being abused and you may feel upset and worried yourself. Make sure that you are offered adequate support and an opportunity for debriefing, bearing in mind confidentiality.

Good practice which can help to prevent child abuse

• Avoid situations where teacher/coach/club official and child are alone. The ASA acknowledges that occasionally there may be no alternative – for example, a child may fall ill and have to be taken home.

• One to one contact must never be allowed to occur on a regular basis. Further guidance on this issue is contained in the

ASA Code of Ethics.

• Ascertain the child’s and the parent’s/carer’s views about manual support for children who need this kind of help particularly when they are in the water.

• If it’s necessary to do things of a personal nature for children who are young or who are disabled, make sure you have another adult accompanying you. Get the child’s consent if at all possible and certainly get consent from the parent/carer. Let the child know what you are going to do and why.

• Ask parents/carers and/or nominated club officials to be responsible for children in changing rooms.

• Get teachers/coaches/club officials to work in pairs if classes or groups of children have to be supervised in the changing room.

• Ensure that male and female teachers/coaches/club officials always accompany mixed teams.

• Don’t allow any physically rough or sexually provocative games, or inappropriate talking or touching by anyone, in any group for which you have responsibility.

• In competitions and galas, look out for people who don’t appear to be relatives or friends of children who are swimming but, nevertheless, seem to spend a lot of time videoing or photographing them. Report these incidents to the organisers or the pool management immediately.

• When organising a swim meet arrange an accreditation system for parents/relatives and friends and bona fide press photographers. – See ASA Guidance on Photography and Video-recording.

• Ensure the club adheres to ASA law with particular reference to this guidance on child protection, the requirement for coaches and helpers to be registered with the ASA and publicise the ASA Swim Line phone number – 0808 100 4001.

For more information contact:

WSC Welfare Officer at

Useful links

Swimline - 0808 100 4001

NSPCC Helpline - 0808 800 5000

Childline - 0800 1111

Wandsworth Social Services - 020 8871 6622

ASA Wavepower