We speak to club owners & coaches a lot about all things Coacha, club management & child protection. One thing surrounding safeguarding that comes up quite a lot is changing facilities. Some coaches feel that they would benefit from more guidance around changing room policies. So... we thought we'd see what we could do.
If you're a regular follower of this blog, you'll know Marilyn Hawes. Marilyn is the CEO & Founder of Freedom from Abuse CIC. We co-developed our See | Report | Save - safeguarding in sport guide with Marilyn and being an expert in child protection, she features regularly on our blog. For this article, Marilyn will focus on 11 tips for managing your club's changing facilities.
Do you get concerned when athletes are in changing rooms that are out of view?
Every sports organisation runs in its own way. Some may have multiple changing rooms, some may have no changing rooms, but some may have mixed changing rooms that both adults and children share. The same can be said for public facilities and both situations can cause stress to coaches. Who's job is it to monitor these spaces? What checks should we have in place? What involvement do parents have?
We now know that 30% of all child sexual abuse is 'peer on peer'. This is abuse taking place by children/young people.This is why areas such as changing rooms & public facilities need to be closely monitored to ensure that vulnerable children are protected. Troublesome behaviours are more likely when there are no responsible adults around. This is why every club must have a changing room policy which is clearly displayed.
Each club's changing room policy will differ depending on club's facilities, access to the facilities and the number of children involved. The below tips are considered as best practice guidance and apply to situations where adults and children share facilities.
Here are 11 tips for managing your sports club's changing room facilities:
1. Adults shouldn't shower when children are using the facility.
2. Adults should try to change at separate times to children during training/matches.
3. If adults and children need to share a changing facility at the same time, the club must have consent from the parents that their child(ren) can share a changing room with adults in the club.
4. If children play for adult teams, they and their parents must be informed of the club’s policy on changing arrangements. Gender must be handled sensitively.
5. Mixed gender teams must have access to separate male and female changing rooms. Transgender students can use either male or female changing rooms. However, if this is unacceptable they should have access to a private changing room, or shower and change at home.
6. Mobile phones and cameras must NOT be used in changing rooms.
7. Children below the age of 8 years old should be accompanied by a parent. Netball England state that children under the age of 10 years old must be supervised.
8. If mixed changing rooms cannot be avoided, then 2 DBS-checked members of staff/volunteers should pass through at regular intervals. The staff should be the same gender as those changing at that time.
9. Those students who need assistance should have a prior agreement with the club from the parent or carer.
10. Anyone allocated to supervising changing rooms needs to have a DBS.
11. If children are uncomfortable changing or showering at the club, no pressure should be placed on them to do so. Children and teenagers can feel naturally anxious about changing in front of others. If this is the case, they should be encouraged them to do this at home.
It's important to note that this is a brief summary of changing room best practice. Click here for full guidance from the CPSU.