Child Protection Policy

West Cork Kaykers Child Protection Policy

1. Introduction

West Cork Kaykers Club’s Protection Policy is an integral component of WCKC’s overall Code of Ethics and Conduct which includes all of West Cork Kayaking Club’s policies and procedures relating to ethics, conduct, disciplinary, and appeal procedures.

The purpose of this document is to:

  • To help ensure the protection of children and all those involved with the club with involved with the club activities.
  • To define the roles and responsibilities of the children, parents and sports leaders involved in the club
  • To provide support for the children and adults of the club
  • To demonstrate and ensure that the club is run to the highest possible standards

2. Aim of the Club

The aims and objectives of the club are:

  • To provide an opportunity for fun and character development in a sporting environment
  • To promote the concepts of physical well-being and fitness among children
  • To help develop children’s basic movement and motor skills
  • To teach children the importance of safety on the water at all times

The pursuit of these objectives will be conducted in an atmosphere where the welfare and protection of children takes precedence and where the guiding principles will be those of equality and fair play. The club caters from age eight up to the age of sixteen, parents must be present with the child at all times on the water up to the age of sixteen. Parents are responsible for their child’s safety at all times. From the age of sixteen, with parental permission, the child now is deemed as an adult member.

3. Responsibilities

West Cork Kayaking Club will:

  • Respect and promote the rights and aspirations of young people
  • Support procedures which recognise that adults have a duty of care to young people, to safeguard their well-being and to protect them from poor practices.
  • Recruit, train and supervise adults so as to encourage the adoption of best practices to safeguard and protect young people from poor practices and abuse, and themselves against false allegations
  • Require adults to adopt and abide by the WCKC Child Protection Policy which form an integral component of West Cork Kayaking Club’s Code of Ethics and Conduct.
  • Aim to ensure that young people who take part in any West Cork Kayaking Club activities are able to do so in a fun and safe environment and be protected from neglect, bullying, and any form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • Respond to any allegations appropriately
  • Review and evaluate the club’s Child Protection Policy on a regular basis.


  • The Parent has a moral and statutory duty for the care, custody, and control of their own children under the age of 16 under their supervision.
  • A young person’s welfare is paramount
  • All young people involved in kayaking, whether recreational or competitive, should expect protection from poor practices and abuse, whatever their age, culture, disability they may have, gender, language, racial origin, religious belief and sexual identity.
  • All incidents of poor practices or suspicion of poor practice and allegation or suspicion of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately
  • All young people should expect appropriate management and support with regard to their involvement in kayaking
  • It is responsibility of statutory authorities to determine or not if serious abuse has taken place, but it is everyone’s responsibility to report any concern to the DLP of the club
  • Confidentially should be upheld in line with data protection legislation

4. Code of conduct

Code of conduct for Mentors and Instructors in the club:

  • The clubs activities are to be carried out in an atmosphere of respect for children and in a spirit of fair play and equality
  • Parents will be informed of an injury to a child or problem expressed by the child
  • Foul or abusive language is not to be used in addressing children
  • No excessive demands or expectations are to be made on children
  • Reports of any child abuse or a complaint to a statutory body will be handled under the guidelines set down by the Irish Sports Council
  • In the event of overnight away trips being organised, the guidelines set down by the Irish Sports Council are to be followed.

Mentors and Instructors should:

  • Avoid spending time with children away from others or taking children alone in their car.
  • Show and encourage respect for water and environment
  • Be punctual and encourage punctuality for all of the clubs activities
  • Be aware at all times that they are representing their club

Code of Conduct for Children in the club:

  • Show respect for their Instructors and Mentors
  • Show respect for West Cork Kayaking Club facilities and the facilities of any club visited
  • Remember at all times that they are representing their club

Children should not:

  • Use violence or verbal abuse
  • Bully
  • Tell lies about adults or other children, spread rumours, or keep secrets about any person who may have caused them harm.


Parents/Guardians are responsible for all their junior members interactions with West Cork Kayaking Club online, such as on the club social networking site. They are expected to seek out and understand the nature of the activities their junior members are participating in and the inherent risks they are taking. Parents/Guardians should note that West Cork Kayaking Club is not a service provider where you can drop off your children for minding and that the club only has responsibility to ensure that juniors are transported to and from activities and are collected on time. This also needs to be in accordance with best practice in child protection policies and they should ensure that children do not e.g. travel alone with adults who are not their parents/guardians.

Photographs on the club Facebook page

All events are fully supervised by the branch members. The Branch has appointed Ms. Anna O’Keeffe as the Branch Designated Liaison Officer with responsibility for Child Protection (Tel: 086-3027198)

It is common practice at West Cork Kayakers Club to have photographs to be taken for promotional and archival purposes. Photographs are also often published online on the branch website and on our facebook page. If you object/do not consent to your child’s photograph being taken at West Cork Kayakers events, please send a letter expressing this wish to the branch Secretary – Gildas Laplaud, The Abbey, Skibbereen, Co. Cork. Otherwise, it will be assumed that you give your consent to your child’s photograph being taken and published on the branch website and branch facebook page. The child’s name is never added onto any photos taken.

Safety Procedure

  • A first Aid kit is always on the water with one of the instructors on every trip the club does
  • Committee Members are to have access to relevant emergency and parent contact numbers at all events
  • Injuries and dangerous occurrences are to be reported by instructors in writing to the club Chairperson
  • Safe behaviour on and off the water will be promoted by the club

Recognition of Poor Practice, Abuse and Bullying

  • Poor Practice: Allegations of poor practice often relates to situations where the behaviour of an adult or another young person is inappropriate and may be causing concern to a young person. In the application of this policy, poor practice includes any behaviour of a child protection nature, which contravenes the Child Protection Policy, infringes an individual’s rights and/or is a failure to fulfil the highest standards of care. Poor practice is unacceptable in the Club and will be treated seriously and with appropriate action.
  • Abuse and Neglect: Even for those experienced in working with child abuse, it is not always easy to recognise a situation where abuse may occur or has already taken place. Members of the Club are not expert at such recognition, but, they do have a responsibility to act if they have any concerns about the behaviour of someone (an adult or another young person) towards a young person and to follow the procedures in this document.

Definitions of Abuse

  • Neglect – is when adults fail to meet a young person’s physical and/or psychological needs, resulting in a serious impairment of the young person’s health or development. It may also include refusal to give young people love, affection and attention.
  • Physical Abuse – is when adults physically hurt or injure young people by hitting or otherwise causing physical harm to a young person
  • Emotional Abuse – is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a young person such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the young person’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to young people that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on young people. It may involve causing young people to feel frightened or in danger by being constantly shouted at threatened or taunted which may make the young person nervous or withdrawn.
  • Sexual Abuse – is when young people are abused by adults who use young people to meet their own sexual needs. This could include full sexual intercourse, masturbation, oral sex, or fondling. Showing young people pornographic material (books, videos, pictures) or talking to young people in a sexually explicit manner is also a form of sexual abuse. In sport, coaching techniques that involve physical contact with young people could potentially create situations where sexual abuse may go unnoticed. The power of a coach over young athlete, if misused, may also lead to abusive situations developing.

Indicators of Abuse

Indications that a young person may be abused include the following:

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

2. An injury for which the explanation seems inconsistent.

3. The young person describing what appears to be an abusive act involving him/ her.

4. Someone else expressing concern about the welfare of another young person.

5. Unexplained changes in behaviour

6. Inappropriate sexual awareness.

7. Engaging in sexually explicit behaviour.

8. Distrust of adults, particularly those with whom a close relationship would normally be expected.

9. Having difficulty in making friends.

10. Being prevented from socialising with other young people.

11. Displaying variations in eating patterns including overeating or loss of appetite.

12. Losing weight for no apparent reason.

13. Becoming increasingly dirty or unkempt.


It is important to recognise that in some cases of abuse it may not always be an adult abusing a young person. It can occur that that the abuser may be a young person, Bullying may be seen as deliberately hurtful behaviour, usually repeated over a period of time, where it is difficult for those being bullied to defend themselves. Although anyone can be a target of bullying, victims are typically shy, sensitive and perhaps anxious or insecure. Sometimes they are singled out for physical reasons – being overweight, physically small, having a disability or belonging to a different race, faith or culture. Bullying can be defined as repeated aggression be it verbal, psychological, physical conducted by an individual or group against others. It is behaviour that is intentionally aggravating and intimidating and occurs mainly in social environments such as schools, clubs, and other organisations working with young people. It includes behaviours such as teasing, taunting, threatening, extortion, and behaviour by one or more children against a victim. The damage inflicted by bullying can frequently be underestimated. It can cause considerable distress to young people, to the extent that it affects their health and development or, at the extreme, causes them significant harm (including self-harm). The competitive nature of sport makes it an ideal environment for the bully.

How would you know if a child is being bullied?

Most bullies operate using furtiveness, threats and fear. Bullying can therefore can only survive in an environment where the victim does not feel empowered to tell someone who can help or in which it is not safe to do so. The following indicators are signs that a young person might be getting bullied.

  • Reluctance to come to a venue or take part in activities.
  • Physical signs (unexplained bruises, scratches or damage to belongings).
  • Stress caused illness - headaches, and stomach aches which seem unexplained.
  • Fearful behaviour.
  • Frequent loss or shortage of money with vague explanations.
  • Having few friends.
  • Behavioural changes such as not eating, reduced concentration and/or becoming withdrawn, clingy, depressed, reluctance to go to school, training or sport club.
  • Attempting suicide or hinting at suicide.
  • Anxiety.

While the more extreme forms of bullying would be regarded as abuse and consequently reportable to the statutory authorities, dealing with bullying behaviour in the context of kayaking can normally be resolved by an instructor /club management.

How can it be prevented?

  • Ensure that all members follow a code of conduct, which promotes the rights and dignity of each member.
  • Deal with any incident as they arise.
  • Use a whole group policy or “no blame approach”, i.e. not “bullying the bully” but working with bullies and the group of young people helping them to understand the hurt that they are causing and so make the problem a “shared concern” of the group.
  • Reinforce that there is “a permission to tell” culture rather than “might is right”.
  • Encourage young people to negotiate, co-operate and help others, particularly new or different children.
  • Offer the victim immediate support and put the “no blame approach” into operation.
  • Never tell a young person to ignore bullying.
  • Never encourage a young person to take the law into their own hands and beat the bully at their own game.
  • Tell the victim there is nothing wrong with them and it is not their fault.

Club Child Liaison Officer

The welfare and protection of children and young people should be the concern of all adults at all times. In the context of a club, the welfare and protection of young people is the responsibility of all club members irrespective of their role within the club. The club should accept this as part of their responsibility and duty of care to young people if it accepts young people as members of WCKC.

To comply with the best practices West Cork Kayaking Club has designate a person as the club's Child Liaison Officer. This person should have responsibility for liaising with the Management Committee on issues relating to child safety, welfare, and protection. The Child Liaison Officer will ensure that the safety and well-being of the club’s junior is protected at all times and that the Child Protection Policy is adhered to in full.

Clear procedures for responding to concerns expressed in relation to child safety, welfare and protection issues should be laid out. All club members, children, parents/guardians should be aware of the procedures to be followed to report concerns and to whom within the club such concerns should be reported to. These procedures should be consistent with the procedures outlined in West Cork Kayaking Club’s Child Protection Policy and the Irish Sports Council's Code of Ethics & Good Practice for Children’s Sport.

  • The Club Child Liaison Officer should be the link between young people and adults within a club and should be responsible for monitoring and reporting to the Club Management Committee on how club policies, activities, structures, etc. impact on young people within the club.
  • The Club Child Liaison Officer therefore needs to be perceived as being approachable, discrete, have good communication and listening skills, and a sound understanding of child protection issues and policies.
  • The Club Child Liaison Officer needs to be and to be seen to be fully supported by the Club Management Committee.
  • The focus of Club Child Liaison Officer should be child centred and have as their primary objective the establishment of a child centred ethos within the club. The Club Child Liaison Officer should act as the first point of contact for anyone within the club (volunteers, parents or children) who might have a concern about a child, about poor practices, or possible incidents of abuse.
  • The Club Child Liaison Officer does not need to be a child protection "expert" and specifically does not have responsibility for investigating or validating child protection concerns. The Club Child Liaison Officer also has no counselling or therapeutic role. These roles are fulfilled by the statutory authorities.
  • It is, however, possible, that child protection concerns might be brought to the attention of the Club Child Liaison Officer. In this event, it is essential that correct procedures are followed i.e. that reports are passed on immediately to the designated person within the club (generally the Chairperson) who has the responsibility of reporting to the statutory authorities.

The following outlines the core knowledge, skills, and tasks for the role of Club Child Liaison Officer.


  • Basic knowledge of core legislation and government guidance.
  • Basic knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of the statutory authorities.
  • Local arrangements for managing child protection and reporting procedures.
  • Poor practice and abuse – behaviour that is harmful to children.
  • West Cork Kayaking Club's role and responsibilities to safeguard the welfare of young people.
  • West Cork Kayaking Club's policy and procedures related to safeguarding young people.
  • Core values and principles underpinning practice.
  • Awareness of equity issues and child protection.

The Club Child Liaison Officer should have the following skills:

  • Basic administration - maintain records.
  • Basic advice and support provision to the Club Management Committee.
  • Child focussed approach.
  • Communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to promote West Cork Kayaking Club's policy, procedures and resources.
  • Ability to provide information from local resources. (Doctors, Police, Emergency Services, etc.).


  • Assist the Club Management Committee fulfil its responsibilities to the Irish Canoe Union to safeguard young people at club level.
  • Be the first point of contact with the Irish Canoe Union National Child Protection Officer.
  • Implement WCKC’s reporting and recording procedures.
  • Maintain contact details for local social services and know how to obtain local child protection guidelines.
  • Promote the Irish Canoe Union's best practice and Child Protection Policy within the club.
  • Sit on the club's management committee when young peoples' issues are to be discussed.
  • Promote and ensure confidentiality is maintained.
  • Promote anti-discriminatory practices.

The Club Child Liaison Officer through the Club Management Committee should fulfil the following general functions:

  • Promote awareness of the Irish Canoe Union's Child Protection Policy and the Irish Sports Council's Code of Ethics and Good practice for Children's Sport in Ireland within the club and particularly among children and their parents / guardians. This can be achieved by the production of a club information leaflet, and by regular induction and information meetings for young people and their parents/guardians.
  • Influence policy and practice within the club in order to prioritise young peoples' needs.
  • See that young people know how to make concerns known to appropriate adults or agencies.
  • Act as an advisory resource to instructors, coaches, and team managers on best practices.
  • Report regularly to the club management committee.
  • The Club Child Liaison Officer should continually monitor club policies in relation to young people and check that all activities are safe and enjoyable.
  • The club needs to be aware of any issue that might cause young people harm whilst in its care. This may range from a simple injury due to faulty equipment or an unsafe facility. In some cases neglect is more serious, and may result in a breach of a child's rights.
  • The Club Child Liaison Officer should advise the Club Management Committee of the need for an activities’ safety statement in relation to the club's activities and ensure that there are policies in relation to adequate supervision, travelling with young people, recruitment and selection of team managers, instructors and coaches.

Responding to Disclosure, Suspicions and Allegations

If you are told or you become aware through observation that a young person is being or has been subjected to poor practice, bullying or harassment within your club you should immediately contact the Club’s Child Liaison Officer.


If are you are told or you become aware through observation that a young person is being or has been subjected to poor practice, bullying or harassment directly through involvement in an activity organised and run under the auspices of West Cork Kayaking Club you should immediately contact the West Cork Kayaking Club Child Protection Officer and/or the Irish Canoe Union National Child Protection Officer.

There is no time limit to the submission of allegations or incidents of a child protection nature.

1. In the event that the incident of poor practice, bullying or harassment is alleged to have taken place within the club environment then the Club Child Liaison Officer must immediately report to the board of management of the club who will make a decision on how the allegation is to be dealt with. A decision will also be made with regard to the suspension of the individual concerned, pending the outcome of an internal or external enquiry. The Club Board of Management should inform the Irish Canoe Union's National Child Protection Officer of all confirmed incidents of poor practice, bullying or harassment.

2. In the event that the incident of poor practice, bullying or harassment is alleged to have taken place directly through involvement in an activity organised and run under the auspices of the Irish Canoe Union then the National Child Protection Officer will bring the issue to the attention of the Irish Canoe Union Executive who will make a decision on how the allegation is to dealt with. A decision will also be made with regard to the suspension of the individual concerned, pending the outcome of an internal or external enquiry.

Responding to disclosures of Serious Abuse

If you are told or you become aware through observation that a young person is being or has been subjected to serious abuse you should immediately contact the Club’s Child Liaison Officer. In the event that the Club Child Liaison Officer cannot be contacted or is the subject of the allegation you should then report the matter as soon as possible to the most senior officer holder in the club, normally the chairperson. The chairman of a club is considered the most appropriately designated person to contact statutory authorities where there is a suspicion or allegation of serious abuse.

If the chairperson has reasonable grounds for believing that the child has been abused or is at the risk of abuse the chairperson should make a report to the statutory authorities who have the statutory responsibility to investigate and assess suspected or actual child abuse. In the case of emergency where the child appears to be at immediate and serious risk and the designated person is unable to contact a duty social worker, the Gardaí should be contacted. Under no circumstances should a child be left in a dangerous situation pending intervention by the statutory authorities.

If the designated person (i.e. the most senior member of the club management) is unsure whether reasonable grounds for concern exist or not, s/he should informally consult with the HSE. S/he will be advised whether or not the matter requires a formal report.

A designated person reporting suspected or actual child abuse to the statutory authorities should first inform the family of their intention to make such a report, unless doing so would endanger the child or undermine an investigation.

A report should be given by the designated person to the statutory authorities in person or by phone, and in writing.

The Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998 provides immunity from civil liability to persons who report child abuse "reasonably and in good faith" to the Health Board or the Gardai (See 5.13.1 - Irish Sport Could Code). The act also covers the offence of "false reporting".

Recruitment and Appointments

Committee Members are nominated and appointed at the club’s agm.