The British Rowing guidance documents http://www.britishrowing.org/about-us/welfare/guidance-documents are important but too detailed to be of use every day. The advice below is intended as a quick reference when coaching and coming into contact with juniors.
For this purpose juniors are classed as any rower before their 18th birthday.
This document is intended to help both juniors and adults involved in the everyday contact with juniors.
Each club that has junior rowers should have a Welfare/Child Protection Officer (CPO). The children and the children’s parents should be made aware of whom the relevant person is. He/she should be well known in the club though doesn’t have to be a rower.
Adults regularly (more than once a week) in contact with juniors in their clubs should be checked through the Disclosure and Barring Service. This is the best protection we have to offer, but all members should be aware of the possibility of abuse and bad practice, and anything they are made aware of should be reported in the first instance to their club’s Welfare Officer.
If you require DBS checks for members of your club, both for adults in regular contact with juniors and your club’s Welfare Officer these have to be made through WSR’s Welfare Officer via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email the names of applicants and the forms will be issued. When you have completed the forms, you will be asked to provide specific identity documents for a face-to-face ID check. The enhanced disclosures are issued free to volunteers, though you or your club will have to pay a £4.50 administration fee from 01/04/2017. Mileage costs for ID checks may also be charged.
A copy of the disclosure is issued to the applicant. It is the responsibility of the Welfare Officer of the particular club to check the disclosure and to satisfy themselves that the applicant is suitable, if necessary with support of the WSR Welfare Officer.
[Disclosures are now portable between some voluntary organisations, through the Update Service. This allows a check to be viewed online regularly and saves future ID checks with the same or another organisation. This can be implemented with your permission when applying for a DBS or you can do it yourself within 19 days of receiving your DBS paper copy].
Rowing is not a dangerous sport and the Celtic Longboats are essentially a good solid stable craft, a sea-going rowing boat, but going into what is essentially a hostile environment. Before going out with a crew of juniors make sure they are wearing correctly fitted life jackets and that they know emergency procedures.
It is best practice that the adult in charge of the boat is never alone on shore with the children. There should always be an adult on shore when the boat is launched and when it comes back at the end of a session. The adult in the boat responsible for the juniors should be DBS checked, although this is not necessary for all adults in the boat. Similarly the adult on shore need not be DBS checked but is there to make sure no compromising situations occur.
Adults and coaches are advised never to be alone with a junior; everything should be done in public view. There should be no need for a coach or other involved adult to have a child alone in the adult’s own home.
Physical contact is not encouraged and should be kept to a minimum: but sometimes can be necessary, for example fitting a life jacket, adjusting the foot stop or demonstrating the correct grip on the oar. The junior should be asked and agree to help in these circumstances.
Ideally an adult should never have a child or a crew alone on a journey away from the club, e.g. to a race. Sometimes it may be necessary to take a child to the child’s own home unaccompanied. In this case another adult club member and the parent/guardian should be informed.
Efforts should always be made to notify parents of what is happening in the club, whether it is training session times or arrangements for races.
There is no requirement by the league to have a safety boat in attendance, but a considered observation should be made about weather and sea conditions before taking juniors out to sea, also taking into account the age and experience of the rowers. In rougher conditions, it might be acceptable to take two juniors out with two experienced rowers, or to accompany a junior boat with an experienced adult crew in another boat.
Like adults, juniors are going to have a preferred rowing side. Whilst the makeup of the crew can be settled for a race, in everyday training sessions the juniors should be encouraged to change their rowing sides and also their position in the boat to avoid undue stress on their body.
The adult taking out a junior crew should be DBS checked and be an experienced rower. The club should have a qualified coach.
Access to the club records of contact details for juniors should be strictly controlled on a need-to-know basis. Adults in the club should not make any private contact with the juniors, by phone; email; text or any other social media or contact that cannot be made publicly. At least one other adult should be copied in to any communication.
Photography / visual media of any sort should be agreed with the parents and junior prior to their joining the club.
Documents on all aspects of junior care are provided on the Welsh Rowing or British Rowing web site and include –
Codes of conduct; anti bullying complaints and disciplinary procedures; duty of care; planning residential trips; safeguarding and photography; whistle blowing, to name just a few.
For the club/parents/spectators
- Never force a junior to row. The child must want to be in the boat
- Remember: juniors row for their own enjoyment not yours
- Teach the juniors that victory isn’t everything, rowing as well as you can is just as important. In a race, only one boat can be first but without the other crews there are no winners
- Never yell at a rower for making a mistake, we have all made them. Never sneer or use sarcasm. Remember they are rowing for their own benefit not yours
- Applaud good rowing by any team. Obey the rules of the race
- Encourage the children to improve their skills through coaching and practice
- For spectators: don’t criticise the adults taking part: they are volunteers and unpaid. If you want to be involved, come along and row.
For the juniors involved
- Row for fun not just to please your parents or the club
- Obey the rules
- Don’t argue with the adult/cox in the boat: they are more experienced than you and have your safety at heart. Remember that we don’t class rowing as an immersion sport but you are out at sea in a potentially dangerous situation
- Always wear a correctly fitted lifejacket. If you can’t adjust it yourself make sure an adult has adjusted it to be a good fit
- Control your temper
- The race isn’t lost until you have crossed the finish line
- Be a good sport. Applaud the crew that has just beaten you in a race. Applaud the crew that you have just beaten and have given you a good challenging row
- Be fair, and don’t chuck your weight around onshore or in the boat
- Improve your skill. You’ll row and feel better
- Don’t be selfish. Cooperate with the crew and the cox. Remember without your opponents there is no race
- Don’t show off
- Be proud to wear the club colours.