We must protect kids in the sport club environment
THE recent worldwide paedophile ring that was busted should be sounding alarm bells through all organisations that have children under their guidance and membership base.
Above anything else, you can't bring back their innocence.
The "what if" thought could live with you forever.
That's a feeling I don't want to ever have.
There were teachers and priests as well as coaches caught in the sting and it shows us that a title does not make anyone a trustworthy person.
So what can your club do to try and protect its most vulnerable members?
The Blue Card system in Queensland is a great system to assist in ensuring that the person you engage in a volunteer or paid role has been checked for past criminal issues.
However, it is just a starting point as it doesn't say the person is a good person, just that they have not been caught for anything.
Probably half the paedophile ring could have obtained Blue Cards.
Reducing the opportunities for the adults to be in a situation where they can have an opportunity to do wrong is an opportunity for the club to show due diligence.
Teachers are not allowed to take a student in their car but they can take three.
It makes it harder for the teacher to do something if they are tempted but also protects the teacher from any false accusation.
The club should have a policy on what things should be avoided to protect volunteers.
Facebook pages allow a transparent communication process and private messages should only be sent by the page admin and are therefore traceable by multiple users.
Appointing a person of trust in the club for anyone to be able to go to with concerns is really important. They need to be a trustworthy person that is thorough in their processes without jumping to conclusions.
This could potentially be an external sponsor that is trained in this area or just someone that is well respected in the club. All members should know who the person is and be able to access them outside of club hours discreetly.
It is important to not jump to conclusions and ruin someone's life publicly but it also important to ensure that everyone is safe.
I challenge your club to mock up a situation (just written) and work it through your current system to a point of conclusion. It's a real sensitive subject and if you cannot work it through on paper, how can you possibly deal with it when emotions and relationships start clouding the judgment.
Do everything you can to protect the kids because you don't get two shots at a failed process on this one!