Code of Conduct
Before writing an actual policy down on paper, it is important for your organisation, its staff, administration and anyone else involved in the day-to-day operations, to identify and agree upon a set of standards for a Code of Conduct that will be the foundation of the policy. This Code of Conduct, once agreed upon, will have to be followed by all staff, volunteers and visitors. This could be as simple as a list of behaviours that are acceptable, not recommended and never acceptable. Once everyone agrees on them, have all staff members (and any visitors or volunteers) sign the code. This list should then be displayed in a public space within the organisation where all visitors, staff and, most importantly, the children themselves can see what conduct they should expect from their coaches and what they shouldn’t.
In addition to a staff code of conduct, it is important to create a code of conduct for participants themselves, which outlines what is expected of their behaviour towards each other and their coaches and facilitators. This can be created with the participants themselves by asking them to write down what behaviours they think they should abide by for a safe and fun programme. A participant code of conduct is especially important when mixing genders so that both girls and boys understand the need to respect each other.
Model Children’s Code of Conduct
Create the Policy
Once you have a code of conduct and an agreed-upon set of standards, the next step could be to write out a clear and simple policy that outlines your organisation’s approach to child protection. Practically, this could include the following:
- Basic definitions of what abuse is and what child protection means for your organisation
- Code of Conduct and good/bad practices related to child protection and sport
- Reporting processes and procedures
- Referral system
- Investigation process into reports of violation of the policy
- Follow up after abuse is reported and investigated
Reporting and Referral Processes and Procedures
A very important part of your policy should be the reporting and referral processes and procedures. By this, we mean steps to take to report abuse (whether it is a child reporting the abuse or an adult reporting it) and the necessary follow up. This process is important because it provides a clear guide for coaches and other adults, as well as children, on how to handle extremely sensitive cases of abuse that may have happened within the organisation itself or at the child’s home. Without knowledge on how to handle these situations, a child revealing abuse to an unprepared adult could put that coach in a very difficult situation. Not knowing what to do or not being prepared to handle the report could harm the child and cause stress and anxiety for the adult. The result could be a situation handled in a way that would hurt all the parties involved rather than resolve the situation and get everyone the help they need.
For examples of reporting and referral processes, take a look at our model Child Protection Policy, particularly the reference to reporting and referrals.
Child Protection Guidelines on Recruiting
Creating guidelines on recruiting coaches, facilitators and other staff (including accepting volunteers) is crucial in creating a safe environment for girls in your sport programme. When recruiting potential staff, make sure to have a standardized process that includes background checks for both male and female coaches. Check not only with local police but also with the community and make sure that the coach would be an ideal role model or mentor for the programme. If you do have female participants and male coaches, make sure that you hire enough female coaches or facilitators so that there is at least one female adult in each group coached by male.