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Code of Ethics

‘Code of Ethics & Good Practice for

Young People in Sport’

Killala AFC

February 2006

Table of Contents                                                                                        3

Core Values                                                                                                  4

Killala AFC Policy Statement                                                                    5

Guidelines & Codes of Conduct:

  • Youth Players                                                                                   6
  • Parent/Guardian                                                                              7
  • Sports Leaders                                                                                 8
  • Coaches/Leaders                                                                            10

Policies & Procedures:

  • Disciplinary Complaints & Appeals Procedure                          11
  • Recruitment & Selection Policy                                                    12
  • Anti-Bullying Policy                                                                         13
  • General Guidelines                                                                         16

Child Protection Procedures                                                                     18

Appendix A                                                                                                   22

Appendix B                                                                                                   23

Appendix C                                                                                                   24

References & Acknowledgements                                                           25

Core Values in Sport for Young People

The work of Killala AFC is based on the following principles that will guide the development of sport for young people in each club, (as outlined in page 9, ‘Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport’ (Irish Sports Council: 2000)). Young People’s experience of sport should be guided by what is best for the young person. The stages of development and the ability of the young person should guide the types of activity provided within the club. Adults will need to have a basic understanding of the needs of young people, including physical, emotional and personal.

Integrity in Relationships

Adults interacting with young people in sport should do so with integrity and respect for the child.  There is a danger that sporting contexts can be used to exploit or undermine children.  All adult actions in sport should be guided by what is best for the child and in the context of quality, open working relationships.   Verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse of any kind is unacceptable within sport.

Quality Atmosphere and Ethos

Sport for young people should be conducted in a safe, positive and encouraging atmosphere.  A child-centred ethos will help to ensure that competition and specialisation are kept in their appropriate place.  Too often competitive demands are placed on children too early and results in excessive levels of pressure on them and as a consequence, high levels of dropout from sport.


All children should be treated in an equitable and fair manner regardless of age, ability, sex, religion, social and ethnic background or political persuasion.  Children with disability should be involved in sports activities in an integrated way, thus allowing them to participate to their potential alongside other children.

Fair Play

Fair play is the guiding principle of the ‘Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport’.

All children’s sport should be conducted in an atmosphere of fair play.  Ireland has contributed and is committed to the European Code of Sports Ethics, which defines fair play as: “much more than playing within the rules”.  It incorporates the concepts of friendship, respect for others and always playing with the right spirit.  Fair play is defined as a way of thinking, not just behaving.  It incorporates issues concerned with the elimination of opportunities, excessive commercialisation and corruption.

(‘European Sports Charter and Code of Ethics’, Council of Europe: 1993).


A balanced approach to competition can make a significant contribution to the development of young people, while at the same time providing fun, enjoyment and satisfaction. However, often competitive demands are placed on children too early, which results in excessive levels of pressure on them. This can contribute to a high level of drop out from sport. Leaders should aim to put the welfare of the child first and competitive standards second. A child-centred approach will help to ensure that competition and specialisation are kept in their appropriate place.

Policy Statement

Killala AFC

Killala AFC is fully committed to safeguarding the well being of its members.  Every individual in these clubs should at all times, show respect and understanding for members rights, safety and welfare and conduct themselves in a way that reflects the principles of the organisation and the guidelines contained in the ‘Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport’.

In Killala AFC, our first priority is the welfare of the young people and we are committed to providing an environment which will allow participants to perform to the best of their ability, free from bullying and intimidation.

Code of Conduct for Youth Players

Killala AFC wishes to provide the best possible environment for all young people involved in the sport.   Young people deserve to be given enjoyable, safe sporting opportunities, free of abuse of any kind.   These participants have rights, which must be respected, and responsibilities that they must accept. Young people should be encouraged to realise that they have responsibilities to treat other participants and sports leaders with fairness and respect.

Young players are entitled to:

  • Be safe and to feel safe
  • Be listened to
  • Be believed
  • Be treated with dignity, sensitivity and respect
  • Have a voice in the club / organisation
  • Participate on an equal basis
  • Have fun and enjoy sport
  • Experience competition at a level at which they feel comfortable
  • Make complaints and have them dealt with
  • Get help against bullies
  • Say No
  • To protect their own bodies
  • Confidentiality

Young players should always:

  • Treat Sports Leaders with respect, (e.g. coaches, managers, club officials, groundskeepers, etc.,)
  • Play fairly at all times, do their best
  • Respect team members, even when things go wrong
  • Respect opponents, be gracious in defeat
  • Abide by the rules set down by team managers when travelling to away events.
  • Behave in a manner that avoids bringing the sport in question into disrepute
  • Talk to children’s officer if they have any problems. (Jarlath Munnelly is the Children’s Officer with Killala AFC)

Young players should never:

  • Cheat
  • Use violence or physical contact that is not allowed within the rules
  • Shout or argue with officials, team mates, Sports Leaders or opponents
  • Harm team members, opponents or their property
  • Bully or use bullying tactics to isolate another player
  • Use unfair or bullying tactics to gain advantage
  • Take banned substances
  • Keep secrets, especially if they have been caused harm
  • Tell lies about adults / young people
  • Spread rumours

Guidelines for Parent/Guardian

(‘Code of Ethics & Good Practice for Young People in Sport.’ pages 28 – 29)

Killala AFC believes that parents/guardian should:

  • Be a role model for your child and maintain the highest standards of conduct when interacting with children, other parents, with officials and organisers
  • Always behave responsibly and do not seek to unfairly affect the game / player
  • Never intentionally expose any young participant to embarrassment or disparagement by the use of flippant or sarcastic remarks
  • Always recognise the value and importance of the volunteers who provide sporting/recreational opportunities for your child. Do not publicly question the judgement or honesty of referees, coaches or organisers.  Respect referees, coaches, organisers and other players, (insert appropriate wording for your sport)
  • Encourage your child to play by the rules. Teach your child that honest endeavour is as important as winning and do all you can to encourage good sportsmanship
  • Set a good example by applauding good play on both sides. Encourage mutual respect for team-mates and opponents
  • Support all efforts to remove abusive behaviour and bullying behaviour in all its forms. Please read bullying policy within the club’s guidelines

Parents/Guardian Code of Conduct:

1.   I will respect the rules and procedures set down in Killala AFCs ‘Code of Ethics & Good Practice for Young People in Sport.’

2.   I will respect my child’s team-mates, leaders, (e.g. coaches, officials, judges), and parents, as well as players, parents and coaches from opposing teams. I will encourage my child to treat other participants, coaches, selectors, and managers with respect.

3.   I will give encouragement and applaud only positive accomplishments whether from my child, his/her team-mates, their opponents or the officials.

4.   I will respect my child’s leader(s) and support his/her efforts

5.   I will respect the officials and their authority during sessions and events.

6.   I will never demonstrate threatening or abusive behaviour or use foul language.

7.   I will stay and supervise sessions, (for safety and supervision, not necessarily for their ‘technical expertise’).

8.   I will be present at finishing time of training sessions and matches.

Name:             _______________________  Name of Child(ren)    ___________________



Date    _______________________                                      ___________________

Guidelines for Sports Leaders

Leaders in children’s sport should strive to create a positive environment for the children in their care.  They have an overall responsibility to take the necessary steps to ensure that positive and healthy experiences are provided.

Killala AFC recognises the key role leaders (coaches, selectors and team managers, etc.) play in the lives of children in sport.  

All Leaders should have as their first priority the children’s safety and enjoyment of the sport and should adhere to the guidelines and regulations set out in the clubs ‘Code of Ethics & Good Practice for Young People in Sport.’

Leaders must respect the rights, dignity and worth of every child and must treat everyone equally, regardless of sex, ethnic origin, religion or ability.

Leaders working with young people in each sport should be suitable and appropriately qualified.   Leaders will be expected to go through appropriate recruitment and selection procedures (Appendix A & B), that apply to all persons with substantial access to young people, whether paid or unpaid. References will be needed and will be followed up.

There will be a ‘sign-up’ procedure, whereby the appointed/reappointed leaders agree to abide by the ‘Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children in Sport’ and to the policies and code of the club. Leaders will be given a copy of the clubs ‘Code of Ethics & Good Practice for Young People in Sport’, and they should be made aware of the procedures contained within the clubs Once appointed the Leader must act as a role model and promote the positive aspects of the sport and maintain the highest standards of personal conduct.

The use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco must be actively discouraged as being incompatible with a healthy approach to sporting activity.

Remember your behaviour to players, other officials, and opponents will have an effect on the players in your care.

Be generous with praise and never ridicule or shout at players for making mistakes or for losing a game.  All young players are entitled to respect.

Be careful to avoid the “star system”.  Each child deserves equal time and attention.

Care must be taken not to expose a child intentionally or unintentionally to embarrassment or disparagement by use of sarcastic or flippant remarks about the child or his/her family.

Physical punishment or physical force must never be used.  Never punish a mistake – by verbal means, physical means, or exclusion.

Insist that players in your care respect the rules of the game.   Insist on fair play and ensure players are aware you will not tolerate cheating or bullying behaviour.

Remember that young players play for fun and enjoyment and that skill development and personal satisfaction have priority over highly structured competition.  Never make winning the only objective.

Encourage the development of respect for opponents, officials, selectors and other coaches and avoid criticism of fellow coaches.

When travel/overnight travel is involved, the Leaders travelling with children must sign a separate agreement.    Parents and participants will also be asked to sign permission forms in these instances.

Leaders are responsible for setting and monitoring the boundaries between a working relationship and friendship with players.  It is advisable for coaches not to involve young players in their personal life i.e. visits to coaches home or overnight stays.

Avoid working alone and ensure there is adequate supervision for all activities.

It is important to realise that certain situations or friendly actions could be misinterpreted by the participant or by outsiders.

When approached to take on a new player, ensure that any previous coach-student relationship has been ended by the student/others in a professional manner.

When young players are invited into adult groups/squads, it is advisable to get agreement from a parent/carer.   Boundaries of behaviour in adult groups are normally different from the boundaries that apply to junior groups/squads.

Leaders who become aware of a conflict between their obligation to their players and their obligation to their governing body must make explicit the nature of the conflict and the loyalties and responsibilities involved, to all parties concerned.

Leaders should communicate and co-operate with medical and ancillary practitioners in the diagnosis, treatment and management of their players’ medical or related problems. Avoid giving advice of a personal or medical nature if you are not qualified to do so.  Any information of a personal or medical nature must be kept strictly confidential unless the welfare of the child requires the passing on of this information

The nature of the relationship between leader and a participant can often mean that a leader will learn confidential information about a player or player’s family.  This information must be regarded as confidential and except where abuse is suspected, must not be divulged to a third party without the express permission of the player/family

Set realistic goals for the participants and do not push young players. Create a safe and enjoyable environment

Do not criticise other leaders, (officials, coaches, and selectors).  You are the role model for the children in your care

Leaders should avoid the use of alcohol, before coaching, during events, on trips with young players

Leaders / Coaches Code of Conduct

Leaders / Coaches should familiarise themselves with the ‘Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport’ and with the clubs ‘Code of Ethics & Good Practice for Young People in Sport’ and follow the procedures if they suspect or receive complaints of abuse of any sort

Leaders should be:

  • Positive during session, praise and encourage effort as well as results
  • Plan and prepare appropriately
  • Put welfare of young person first, strike a balance between this and winning / results
  • Encourage fair play, treat participants equally
  • Recognise developmental needs
  • Qualified and up-to-date with knowledge and skill of sport for young people
  • Involve parents where possible and Inform parents when problems arise
  • Keep record of attendance at training
  • Keep a brief record of injury(s) and action taken
  • Keep a brief record of problem/action/outcomes, if behavioural problems arise

Where possible Leaders should avoid:

  • Spending excessive amounts of time with children away from others
  • Taking sessions alone
  • Taking children to your home
  • Taking children on journey’s alone in their car

Sports Leaders should not:

  • Use any form of punishment or physical force on a child
  • Exert undue influence over a participant in order to obtain personal benefit or reward
  • Engage in rough physical games, sexually provocative games or allow or engage in inappropriate touching of any kind, and /or make sexually suggestive comments about, or to a child
  • Take measurements or engage in certain types of fitness testing without the presence of another adults
  • Undertake any form of therapy (hypnosis etc.) in the training of children

I have read and agree to abide by the above guidelines:

____________________________ (signed)              _____________ (date)

Disciplinary, Complaints and Appeals Procedure

This policy has been put in place to allow all members of Killala AFC who are dissatisfied to register their complaint in a formal way and put an open process of investigation into action.

  • Complains may be lodged by all members of the club.
  • They should be received in writing by the secretary of the club.
  • The complaint should outline all relevant details about other parties involved.
  • The complaint should be brought to the attention of the Chairperson who will convene the disciplinary committee.
  • If the complaint involves a criminal offence, the chairperson should disband the disciplinary committee and talk to the children’s officer. The statutory authorities will then be informed.
  • The disciplinary committee should hear the case of all parties involved and decide if a rule or regulation has been infringed.
  • The disciplinary committee should, in writing, inform those involved of the sanctions to be imposed. Written notification should be given to parents if the complaint is against a junior member
  • All record of complaints shall be kept on file
  • If any party does not agree with the disciplinary committee they can appeal the decision in writing within 10-day period
  • If the appeals committee is convened, the chairperson should be taken from the executive committee and comprise of members who have not been on the original disciplinary committee
  • The appeals committee should confirm or set aside or change any sanction imposed by the disciplinary committee.

(See ‘Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport’, page 22 and page 42 for ‘Discipline in Children’s Sport’)

Recruitment and Selection Policy

Killala AFC will take all reasonable steps to ensure that people working with young people are suitable and appropriately qualified.   Recruitment and selection procedures are therefore necessary and these procedures apply to all persons with substantial access to young people, whether paid or unpaid.

All adults taking responsibility for children in sport shall undergo a recruitment process. The responsibilities of the role and the level of experience/qualifications required shall be drawn up and clearly stated beforehand.

Volunteers should fill in an application form (Appendix A); giving names of two referees that can be contacted. The referees in turn fill in a confidential reference form (Appendix B). Where possible there should be an interview.

The club shall also have an appropriate period of probation for the new volunteer.

There will be a “sign-up” procedure, whereby the newly recruited volunteers, agrees to abide by the ‘Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport’ and to the clubs ‘Code of Ethics & Good Practice for Young People in Sport’.

Every effort will shall be made to manage and support appointed Sport Leaders. Adequate supervision should always be provided; a leader should not have to work alone.

A decision to appoint a Sports Leader is the responsibility of Killala AFC and not of any one individual within it. The clubs committee shall ratify all recommendations for appointment.

Anti-Bullying Policy

(This is adapted from the Scout Association of Ireland’s Child Protection Policy)

What is Bullying?

Bullying can be defined as repeated aggression be it verbal, psychological or 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 children and young people. It includes behaviours such as teasing, taunting, threatening, hitting and extortion behaviour by one or more children against a victim.

How would you know if a child is being bullied?

All bullies operate using furtiveness, threats and fear. Bullying can therefore 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 warning 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 (fear of walking to a meeting, going different routes, asking to be driven)
  • Frequent loss of, or shortage of, money with vague explanations
  • Having few friends
  • Changes in behaviour (withdrawn, stammering, moody, irritable, upset, distressed)
  • Not eating
  • Attempting suicide or hinting at suicide
  • Anxiety (shown by nail-biting, fearfulness, tics)

There are other possible reasons for many of the above.

Who should deal with bullying?

While the more extreme forms of bullying would be regarded as physical or emotional abuse and are reported to the health board or An Garda Síochana, dealing with bullying behaviour is normally the responsibility of all Leaders within this club / organisation.

How can it be prevented?

  • Ensure that all members follow the code of conduct, which promotes the rights and dignity of each member.
  • Deal with any incidents 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 they are causing, and so make the problem a ‘shared concern’ of the group, (see below)
  • Reinforce that there is ‘a permission to tell’ culture rather than a ‘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, they can’t ignore it, it hurts too much
  • 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

What is the ‘No Blame’ Approach?

Step 1 – Interview with the victim

If you find that there has been an incident of bullying, first talk to the victim. At this stage find out who was involved and what the victim is now feeling. Try asking the following questions:

  • Was it verbal or physical intimidation?
  • How hurt is the victim
  • Was it within his/her own peer group?
  • Ensure the victim that his/her name will not come out in the investigation
  • Actively listen

Step 2 – Meet with all involved

Arrange to meet with all those involved; this should include some bystanders, those who may have colluded, those who joined in and those who initiated the bullying:

  • Have a maximum of six to eight in the group – keep the number controllable
  • Make a point of calling a ‘special’ meeting
  • Ensure the severity of the topic is understood by all
  • Speak only of the hurt caused in general terms with no reference to the victim
  • Play on the conscience of all – ask questions like: How would you feel? Would you like it done to you?

Step 3 – Explain the problem

The distress being suffered as a result of the bullying incident is explained. At this stage the details of the incident or the allocation of the blame is not discussed. Explain the feelings of loneliness, feeling left out, rejected, laughed at. Try asking questions:

  • Would they like it if it happened to them
  • “Someone here in this group was bullied by someone within the group, what could we do to see it does not happen again?”
  • Listen, watch out for reactions, and pick up on any without isolating anyone

Step 4 – Share the responsibility

Explain what steps / controls may have to be introduced to prevent further incidents and how everyone will loose out as a result

Step 5 – Ask the group for their ideas

At this stage the group is encouraged to suggest ways that would make the victim feel happier. All positive responses are noted. Use phrases “if it were you” to encourage a response. Listen to all suggestions and note them

Step 6 – Leave it to them

Now the problem has been identified, solutions suggested, the problem is now handed over to the group to solve. Arrange to meet again in a week’s time. Pass responsibility over to the group and give a time frame within which something must be done

Step 7 – Meet them again

Each member of the group, including the bully, discuss how things are going, who is doing what and have there been other incidents. This allows for continual monitoring and also keeps all involved in the process.

Again enforce the idea of the ‘team’ looking after each other at regular intervals to ensure it is know that bullying or intimidating behaviour will not be tolerated.

Guidelines on General Issues

Travelling with Children

There is extra responsibility taken on by leaders when they travel with children to events.  When travelling with young people you should:

  • Ensure that there is adequate insurance cover
  • Not carry more than the permitted number of passengers
  • Ensure use of safety belts
  • Avoid being alone with one participant, put passenger in the back seat, drop off at central locations or seek parental permission to transport an individual participant on a regular basis and clearly state times of pick- up and drop off


Make sure there is an adequate adult: child ratio. This will depend on the nature of the activity, the age of the participants and any special needs of the group. As a guide a ratio of 1:8 for under 12 years of age and 1:10 for participants over 12 years of age. This is only a guide and will change depending on the circumstances, i.e. with a child with special needs or on overnight trips. Where there are mixed groups there should be leaders of both genders. Avoid being alone with one participant, if you need to talk separately do so in an open environment, in view of others. In changing rooms, ask parents to take responsibility and supervise in pairs of appropriate gender. Leaders should not have to enter the changing rooms unless children are very young or need special assistance, where supervision should be in pairs of appropriate gender. Clearly state time for start and end of training sessions or competitions, leaders should remain in pairs until all participants have been collected. Keep attendance records and record of any incidents / injuries that arise. Ask parents to stay and supervise sessions, (for safety and supervision, not necessarily for their ‘technical’ expertise).

Away Trips / Overnight Stays

Separate permission forms should be signed by parents and participants, containing an emergency contact number (Appendix C). Young participants should sign a behaviour agreement. Appoint a group leader who will make a report on returning home.      A meeting with parents and participants is useful to communicate travel times, competition details, other activities, gear requirements, medical requirements, special dietary needs and any other necessary details. Rooming arrangements – adults should not share rooms with children, children share rooms with those of same age and gender and adults should knock before entering rooms. All group socialisation should take place in communal areas (i.e. no boys in girls’ rooms and vice versa). Alcoholic drink, smoking or other illegal substances are forbidden to players. There must be at least one adult of each gender with a mixed party, there should be a good adult – child ratio, 1:5/6, and proper access to medical personnel. Lights out times should be enforced. Young players should be under reasonable supervision at all times and should never leave the venue or go unsupervised without prior permission


All clubs should have a safety statement, including specific and potential risks attached to their sport. They should also have procedures in place for safeguarding against such risks. In addition clubs should:

  • Ensure activities are suitable for age and stage of development of participants
  • Keep a record of any specific medical conditions of the participants
  • Keep a record of emergency contact numbers for parents / guardians
  • Ensure any necessary protective gear is used
  • Ensure First Aid kit is close at hand with access to qualified first-aider
  • Know the contact numbers of emergency services
  • Keep first aid kit stocked up
  • Ensure easy access to medical personnel if needed and have a emergency plan
  • If an incident occurs, make a brief record of injury and action taken. Make a brief record of the problem/action/outcome. Contact the participants parents and keep them informed of all details
  • Officials (referees, linesmen, etc.) should ensure the conduct of the game
  • Participants should know and keep the rules of their sport, keeping in mind that many rules are there for safety
  • Leaders should hold appropriate qualifications required by the governing body
  • Ensure there is adequate insurance cover for all activities
  • Ensure parents / guardians are present at finishing time of sessions or events


Some sports require a ‘hands on approach’, especially in a teaching or coaching situation. But the following should be taken into consideration:

  • Avoid unnecessary physical contact
  • Any necessary contact should be in response to the needs of the child and not the adult
  • It should be in an open environment with the permission and understanding of the participant
  • It should be determined by the age and developmental stage of the participant – don’t do something that a child can do for themselves
  • Never engage in inappropriate touching

Child Welfare and Protection Procedures

Killala AFC accepts that organisations, which include young people among its members, are vulnerable to the occurrence of child abuse. Below are the procedures for dealing with any welfare or protection issue that may arise.  Child welfare and the protection of young people is the concern of all adults at all times, irrespective of their role within the organisation.

If there are grounds for concern (‘Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport’, page 41), about the safety or welfare of a young person you should react to the concern. Persons unsure about whether or not certain behaviours are abusive and therefore reportable, should contact the duty social worker in the local health board or social services department where they will receive advice. Grounds for concern include a specific indication from a child, a statement from a person who witnessed abuse or an illness, injury or behaviour consistent with abuse.

A report may be made by any member in the club but should be passed on to the Designated Person/Children’s Officer (Jarlath Munnelly) who may in turn have to pass the concern to the local Statutory Authorities. It is not the responsibility of anyone working within the club, in a paid or voluntary capacity, or those working in affiliated organisations, to take responsibility or decide whether or not child abuse is taking place. That is the job of the local statutory authorities. However, there is a responsibility to protect children by assisting the appropriate agencies so that they can then make enquiries and take any necessary action to protect the young person.

Everyone should follow both procedures outlined below, firstly the procedure for responding to a child in distress and secondly the procedure for reporting the concern.

Response to a Child Disclosing Abuse (‘Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport’, page 42)

When a young person discloses information of suspected abuse you should:

  • Deal with any allegation of abuse in a sensitive and competent way through listening to and facilitating the child to tell about the problem, rather than interviewing the child about details of what happened.
  • Stay calm and not show any extreme reaction to what the child is saying. Listen compassionately, and take what the child is saying seriously.
  • Understand that the child has decided to tell something very important and has taken a risk to do so. The experience of telling should be a positive one so that the child will not mind talking to those involved in the investigation.
  • Be honest with the child and tell them that it is not possible that keep information a secret.
  • Make no judgmental statements against the person whom the allegation is made.
  • Not question the child unless the nature of what s/he is saying is unclear. Leading questions should be avoided. Open, non-specific questions should be used such as “Can you explain to me what you mean by that”.
  • Check out the concerns with the parents/guardians before making a report unless during so would endanger the child.
  • Give the child some indication of what would happen next, such as informing parents/guardians, health board or social services. It should be kept in mind that the child may have been threatened and may feel vulnerable at this stage.
  • Carefully record the details
  • Pass on this information to the Designated Person (Jarlath Munnelly)
  • Reassure the child that they have done the right thing in telling you.

Reporting Suspected or Disclosed Child Abuse

The following steps should be taken in reporting child abuse to the statutory authorities:

  • Observe and note dates, times, locations and contexts in which the incident occurred or suspicion was aroused, together with any other relevant information
  • Report the matter as soon as possible to the designated officer with responsibility for reporting abuse (Jarlath Munnelly). If the Designated Person has reasonable grounds for believing that the child has been abused or is at risk of abuse, s/he will make a report to the health board/social services who have statutory responsibility to investigate and assess suspected or actual child abuse
  • In cases of emergency, where a child appears to be at immediate and serious risk and the Designated Person is unable to contact a duty social worker, the police authorities 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 is unsure whether reasonable grounds for concern exist s/he can informally consult with the local health board/social services. 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 will first inform the family of their intention to make such a report, unless doing so would endanger the child or undermine an investigation

The Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998 provides immunity from civil liability to persons who report child abuse reasonably and in good faithto the Health Board or the Gardaí (See ‘Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport’, page 41). The act also covers the offence of ‘false reporting’.  The main provisions of the Act are:

1.   The provision of immunity from civil liability to any person who reports child abuse “reasonably and in good faith” to designated officers of Health Boards or any member of An Garda Siochána;

2.   The provision of significant protections for employees who report child abuse. These protections cover all employees and all forms of discrimination up to and including, dismissal;

3.   The creation of a new offence of false reporting of child abuse where a person makes a report of child abuse to the appropriate authorities “knowing that statement to be false”. This is a new criminal offence designed to protect innocent persons from malicious reports.

Allegations Against Sports Leaders

Each Club has agreed procedures to be followed in cases of alleged child abuse against Sports Leaders. If such an allegation is made against Sports Leader working within the club, two procedures should be followed:

  • The reporting procedure in respect of suspected child abuse (reported by the designated person / children’s officer), see previous page.
  • The procedure for dealing with the Sports Leader (carried by out by the club Chair or senior officer, or a person not already involved with the child protection concern)

The safety of the child making the allegation should be considered and the safety of any other children who may be at risk. The club should take any necessary steps that may be necessary to protect children in its care

The issue of confidentiality is important. Information is on a need to know basis and the Sports Leader should be treated with respect and fairness.

The Reporting Procedure

If the designated person has reasonable grounds for concern, (‘Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport’, page 41), the matter should be reported to the local health board / social services, following the standard reporting procedure, (‘Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport’, page 42).

The Sports Leader

While the designated officer makes the report to the local health board, the Chair of the club should deal with the Sports Leader in question.

  • The Chair should privately inform the leader that (a) an allegation has been made against him / her and (b) the nature of the allegation. He / she should be afforded an opportunity to respond. His / her response should be noted and passed on to the health board / social services.
  • The leader should be asked to step aside pending the outcome of the investigation. When a person is asked to step aside it should be made clear that it is only a precautionary measure and will not prejudice any later disciplinary proceedings.

The governing body should be informed by the Designated Person that the leader has been asked to stand aside

Governing bodies can consider disciplinary action on the leader but should ensure that this does not interfere with the investigation of the Statutory Authorities. It is important that governing bodies consider the outcome of the investigation and any implications it might have. The fact that the alleged abuser has not been prosecuted or been found guilty does not mean that they are appropriate to work with young people in the future.


Confidentiality should be maintained in respect of all issues and people involved in cases of abuse, welfare or bad practice. It is important that the rights of both the child and the person about whom the complaint has been made are protected.

The following points should be kept in mind:

  • A guarantee of confidentiality or undertakings regarding secrecy cannot be given, as the welfare of the child will supersede all other considerations
  • All information should be treated in a careful and sensitive manner and should be discussed only with those who need to know
  • Information should be conveyed to the parents / guardians of the child in a sensitive way
  • Giving information to others on a ‘need to know’ basis for the protection of a child is not a breach of confidentiality
  • All persons involved in a child protection process (the child, his/her parents/guardians, the alleged offender, his/her family, Sports Leaders) should be afforded appropriate respect, fairness, support and confidentiality at all stages of the procedure.
  • Information should be stored in a secure place, with limited access only to designated people.
  • The requirements of the Data Protection laws should be adhered to.
  • Breach of confidentiality is a serious manner.

Anonymous Complaints

Anonymous complaints can be difficult to deal with but should not be ignored.  In all cases the safety and welfare of the child/children is paramount.   Any such complaints relating to inappropriate behaviour should be brought to the attention of the Designated Person (Jarlath Munnelly). The information should be checked out and handled in a confidential manner.


Rumours should not be allowed to hang in the air.  Any rumours relating to inappropriate behaviour should be brought to the attention of the Designated Person, (Jarlath Munnelly), and checked out without delay.

Appendix A

Application Form: Leaders Position applied for:

Full Name:                                                                  Any surname previously:

Current Address:                                                         Date of Birth:

Telephone No.(s):                                                       Insurance Number / PRSI

List previous experience / involvement in this or any other club. Include experience of working with young children in a voluntary or professional capacity.

Sporting/ NGB Qualifications:

Do you agree to abide by the guidelines contained in the Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport?                                                                        Yes        No

Do you agree to abide by the rules of the governing body / club?     Yes         No

Have you ever been asked to leave a sporting organisation?           Yes         No

(If you have answered yes, we will contact you in confidence)

Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offence or been the subject of a caution; a Bound Over Order; or are you at present the subject of              Yes          No

criminal investigations?


Please supply the name and address of two people who we can contact and who, from personal knowledge, are willing to endorse your application. One of these names should be, where possible, the name of an administrator / leader in your last club / place of involvement

Name and Address of Referee 1:
Name and Address of Referee 2:

I agree to abide by the Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport and the club / association’s Code of Conduct.

Signed_______________________  Date:  _______________________

Appendix B

Confidential Reference Form

(This form can be used as a telephone reference or used as a written reference)

The following person:  ______________________________ (list name) has expressed an interest in working with _____________ (name club) as _____________(list position)

If you are happy to complete this reference, any information will be treated with due confidentiality and in accordance with relevant legislation and guidance. Information will only be shared with the person conducting the assessment of the candidate’s suitability for the post, if s/he is offered the position. We appreciate you being extremely candid, open and honest in your evaluation.

How long have you known this person?
In what capacity?

What attributes does this person have that would make them suited to this work?

Please rate this person on the following (tick one box for each statement)

Poor         Average     Good   Very Good      Excellent




Can motivate others




This post involves substantial access to young people. As an organisation committed to the welfare and protection of young people, we are anxious to know if you have any reason at all to be concerned about this applicant being in contact with children and young people                                             Yes                       No

If you answer yes, we will contact you in confidence

Signed: _______________________________                     Date: ______________

Appendix C

Permission Form

(Travelling with Underage Participants)

EVENT: _______________________

VENUE: _______________________

DATES: _______________________

Travelling Volunteer

I have read and accept the conditions and rules set down by Killala AFC in their ‘Code of Ethics & Good Practice for Young People in Sport,’ including their regulations for children travelling to matches and events.

Name: __________________________                    Role_____________________

Date: ____________________

Parent / Guardian of Participant

I have read and accept the conditions and rules set down by Killala AFC in their ‘Code of Ethics & Good Practice for Young People in Sport,’ including their regulations for children travelling to matches and events.

Parents/Carers Name: _________________________         Date: ______________

Emergency Contact Number(s): __________________

Young Participant

I have read and accept the conditions and rules set down by Killala AFC in their ‘Code of Ethics & Good Practice for Young People in Sport,’ including their regulations for children travelling to matches and events. I agree to abide by the rules.

Name_____________________________________ Date_______________


Code of Conduct – Badminton Association of Ireland

Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport; Irish Sports Council, 2000 (reprinted 2003).

Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children; Dept. of Health & Children 1999

European Sports Charter and Code of Ethics; Council of Europe: 1993

Our Duty to Care; Dept. of Health & Children 2002

Scouts Association of Ireland Child Protection Policy


Killala AFC wishes to thank the following people and associations who assisted in the compilation of this document:

  • Sandra Claxton, Children First Information Officer, H.S.E.
  • Charlie Lambert, Coordinator, Mayo Sports Partnership
  • Kate Hills, Gráinne Uaile Sub-Aqua Club
  • Kilmovee Child Protection Policy Working Group

Compiled for Killala AFC, February 2006, by Jarlath Munnelly, Children’s Officer, Killala AFC.