At the Open Fun Football Schools and the Sports Festivals, child protection spans from creating a good and safe environment for children where they can thrive, prosper and develop, to the protection from, and prevention of, violence, neglect, sexual abuse, trafficking etc. Thus, it is important for all of us to be aware of:
How do we communicate with the children?
How do we (and the children among themselves) communicate on social media?
What kind of pictures do we share with the children?
Do we see children that are vulnerable due to social, economic or other factors?
Do we suspect or see children being bullied?
Do we see signs of distress or risk behaviour?
Do we see signs of maltreatment or abuse?
At the Open Fun Football Schools and Sports Festivals we aim at having a child-centred approach, seeing the child as a whole human being with a wide range of developmental needs, with inherent rights and also understanding the child within its broader context of family, school and community. In our approach, we commit to listening to the children and acting in the best interest of the child. We engage in sports as a platform in local communities to create the best possible child-friendly environment while also protecting children from violence and maltreatment.
We want to make sure that we all are committed to a safeguarding behaviour towards the children while they are engaging in our sports activities and at the same time that we are all able to identify and take due action if we observe children showing signs of maltreatment or abuse in their environment at home, in school or on the street.
Safeguarding children in sports
The coaches at the Open Fun Football Schools are role models for the children. That’s why it’s incredibly important that the coach is aware of her/his role and that the coach has attention to the children, both as individuals and as a group member. How do the kids thrive? Are they showing signs of troubles – perhaps at home, in school or when they are out on the street? And how do they contribute to the wellbeing and cohesion of the group/team?
Furthermore, it is also essential that the coach is aware and take care of how she/he communicates and act in relation to the children. For Instance, consciously or unconsciously, some adults may have a harsh or rude language and an offensive mode of communicating with the children. Others, might, consciously or unconsciously, cross girls’ or boys’ personal boundaries entering the dressing rooms of the opposite sex. Or, with our activities being physical in nature, there might be a risk of crossing children’s boundaries in terms of physical touch and contact – even if unintended
No kind of neglect and abuse must never take place in our Open Fun Football Schools program. Neither must Open Fun Football Schools or Sports and Dialogue Festivals be subjected to suspicion that prevents the majority of our volunteers from performing their primary task – organizing sports and communicating joy and community feeling to the many children and youth who participate.
Hence, we all share the responsibility for the Open Fun Football Schools and the local sports clubs to be a safe place where coaches, children and instructors can meet and experience excitement and joy. And we all have a responsibility to help prevent our children from being exposed to abuse.
Child safeguarding commitments
Codes of conduct are an integral part of any sporting organisation. They set a guideline of behaviour that help build our culture and make it easier to deal with conduct and behaviour issues as they arise.
In Cross Cultures, we would like to use the Open Fun Football Schools and Festivals as a platform to raise awareness on child protection issues. We believe that the best prevention of abuse against children (be they verbal, social or physical), is to discuss openly what we consider important in our relationship with colleagues, children, parents and partners in general. On this basis, we would like all partners and volunteers to help develop and commit to a set of common guidelines or commitments.
It is important to emphasize that these guidelines have a dual purpose. First of all, we want to take measures to prevent that children participating in the Open Fun Football Schools or other of our sports activities experience any kind of abuse – be it verbal, social or physical. Secondly, we want to be better able to identify children in distress due to problems in their life. And finally to take due action by cooperation with and reference agreements with relevant child protection institutions.
So basically, our message is: Let’s talk and break the taboo, let’s do good and no harm and let’s take due action in case of concern.
Cross Cultures action plan on child safeguarding
In the International Council of the Virtual Clubhouse it has been decided that Cross Cultures and partners in the International Council pursue the following action plan:
- Training of coaches in Safeguarding in OFFS’s and sports activities
- Code of conduct to be developed by coaches themselves
- Collaboration with parents, schools and police as feasible
- A nomination of the Safeguarding Focal point in all our projects and partner organisations
- Partners having internal guideline and procedures to handle cases with due diligence endorsed by leadership
- Referral mechanisms or cooperation agreement with local child protection bodies
- Providing information about a hotline for children, Safeguarding focal point, access online content etc in the virtual clubhouse