College Corinthians AFC
Procedure for Reporting Child Abuse Concerns or Allegations
College Corinthians AFC is committed to ensuring that children can participate in all club activities in a safe environment. The safety and welfare of children is paramount. This procedure details the Club approach to reporting child abuse concerns or allegations and is in line with the FAI Child Welfare and Safeguarding Policy.
It is important to note that the investigation of suspected child abuse is the responsibility of the Statutory Authorities (Child & Family Agency (Túsla) and the Gardaí) and therefore will not be undertaken by the Club Children’s Officer, Designated Liaison Person or any other Club personnel.
It is not the role of the person who conveys a complaint or suspicion about abuse to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused but every complaint must be made and acted upon promptly and carefully.
All allegations of child abuse must be referred to the Child and Family Agency, Túsla, or in the event of an emergency to the Gardaí. Referrals to Túsla should be done by completing a Standard Report Form, available on-line from https://www.tusla.ie.
All Club personnel have a duty to report any concerns they may have for the protection or welfare of a child or young person.
When an allegation is received by the Club it will be assessed promptly and carefully. It will be necessary to decide if a formal report should be made to Túsla. This decision should be based on reasonable grounds for concern that a child may have been, is being, or is at risk of being abused or neglected.
The following examples would constitute reasonable grounds for concern:
- Evidence of an injury or behaviour that is consistent with abuse and is unlikely to have been caused in any other way;
- Any concern about possible sexual abuse;
- Consistent signs that a child is suffering from emotional or physical neglect;
- A child saying or indicating by other means that he or she has been abused;
- Admission or indication by an adult or a child of an alleged abuse they committed;
- An account from a person who saw a child being abused.
Wherever appropriate, any issues should be checked with the parents/guardians when considering whether a concern exists, unless doing so may further endanger the child or the person considering making the report.
Abuse is not always committed through personal contact with a child or young person and may be perpetrated through social media or the use of information and communication technology.
Concerns will be passed on by the Designated Liaison Person (Club Chairperson) to the Statutory Authorities if we do receive any complaints with reasonable grounds for concern. In the event that the Designated Liaison Person decides that they do not have reasonable grounds for reporting any concerns, individuals are free to consult with, or make a report (formal or informal) to the Statutory Authorities themselves.
Any allegation of abuse must in the first instance be brought to the attention of the Designated Liaison Person (Club Chairperson) either directly or via the Children’s Officer of the Club.
Should the Designated Liaison Person be unsure whether reasonable grounds for concern exist they can informally consult with the local duty social worker, who will advise whether or not the matter requires a formal report. In the absence of the Designated Liaison Person, the Children’s Officer will deputise for them in the process.
In cases of emergency, where a child appears to be at immediate and serious risk and the Designated Liaison 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.
Manager/coaches/volunteers may be subjected to erroneous or malicious allegations. Therefore, any allegation of abuse should be dealt with sensitively and every appropriate support should be provided including counselling where necessary.
Formal reporting of allegations of abuse will be by submission to Túsla of a Standard Reporting Form.
Should the Club become aware of an allegation of abuse of a child or children by a manager/coach/volunteer during the execution of their duties, the Designated Liaison Person will privately inform the manager/coach/volunteer of the following:
- The fact that the allegation has been made against him/her;
- The nature of the allegation;
- Inform him/her that they must step down from all duties within the Club until the investigation has reached the full conclusion.
The manager/coach/volunteer shall be afforded an opportunity to respond.
The Club will note the response and pass on this information when making the formal report to the Statutory Authorities.
The report to Túsla should be factual and contain observations, dates, times, locations and contexts in which the incident occurred or suspicion was aroused, together with any other relevant information.
Records on child protection concerns, allegations and disclosures will be kept securely and in line with Data Protection legislation.
The Designated Liaison Person, if reporting suspected child abuse to the Statutory Authorities, will first inform the family of the intention to make such a report, unless doing so would endanger the child or undermine any statutory investigation.
It should be noted that should a formal notification be made, we are not accusing anyone of child abuse, rather we are passing concerns for investigation by the appropriate Statutory Authorities, in keeping with the principle that “the welfare of the child is the first and paramount consideration”.
All subsequent actions following an allegation of abuse against a manager/coach/volunteer will be taken in consultation with Túsla and the Gardaí . An immediate meeting will be sought with these two Statutory Authorities for this purpose. The Football Association of Ireland National Children’s Officer is also available to provide support and advice.
Under Football Association of Ireland’s rules, any manager/coach/volunteer who is the subject of a statutory investigation into alleged child abuse, is required to stand down from all soccer activities until the investigation is completed. There the FAI National Children’s Officer must be informed immediately of any formal notification to the Statutory Authorities.
When a person is asked to stand down, it should be made clear that it is only a precautionary measure in keeping with standard procedures/guidelines and will not prejudice any later disciplinary proceedings.
The manager/coach/volunteer concerned will be advised that the procedures being undertaken are in accordance with statutory requirements. He or she should be treated with respect and fairness, and also be assured that all information will be dealt with in a sensitive and confidential manner.
The Club will carefully consider the outcome of the statutory investigation and will then assess if there are any outstanding disciplinary issues in relation to their internal rules or infringements of the Football Association of Ireland best practice guidelines. It must be remembered that the fact that the alleged abuser has not been prosecuted or found guilty does not mean that they are appropriate to work with young people in the future.
Internal Club disciplinary proceedings can only be initiated after the Statutory Authorities have completed theirs.
Where child protection and welfare concerns arise, information must be shared on a ‘need to know’ basis in the best interest of the child/young person with the relevant Statutory Authorities and with parents/guardians.
No undertakings regarding secrecy can be given. The proportionate provision of information to the Statutory Authorities necessary for the protection of a child is not a breach of confidentiality or data protection.
Parents/guardians and children/young people have a right to know if personal information is being shared, unless doing so could put the child/young person at further risk or may put the reporter at risk.
Whilst difficult to pursue, anonymous complaints shall not be ignored. Anonymous complaints should be brought to the attention of the Designated Liaison Person and/or the Children’s Officer and investigated in full based on the information that has been provided. The investigation shall be completed without prejudice to any person and it shall be explained to all parties that there is an obligation to investigate all matters reported. Where necessary, having carefully considered all of the facts, a report to the Statutory Authorities may be submitted.
Rev 2 March 2022