• Joey Gamper Cuthbert

5 reasons Safeguarding is essential for your business

When I was thinking about starting Squad Safe, a coach told me he worried clubs might view my training offer as a “bougie extra”. All they needed for insurance was to complete a $25 online course …so if your staff were good people, your kids were happy and you’d been running your gym for years without a problem, why would you bother? Staff training just sounded like a luxury.

Here are 5 great reasons why training your staff to have a practical understanding of your sport and organisation’s specific safeguarding procedures is an essential, not a luxury, for your business.

1. Cheerleading, Dance and Gymnastics coaches are in a unique position

Everyone, whether they work with children or not, has a responsibility for keeping children safe. Coaches are in a particularly unique position of trust and authority, working in an environment where they are physically interacting with children regularly (providing hands on spotting and physical corrections). Children are more likely to approach someone like a coach for help, and coaches are in a prime position to notice signs of abuse. Coaches need to be confident they understand their organisation’s reporting procedure, so they are equipped to handle a situation if it happens.

2. Children don’t just need us to speak up for them, but speak up in the right way

Children in abusive situations are looking for adults to advocate for them. When doing this its important coaches know how to do it in a way that helps, rather than hinders their situation. Children with disabilities or mental health issues are additionally vulnerable to abuse, and it is critical your staff have a good understanding of access and inclusion to support and advocate for them appropriately. Are you clear on what your organisation’s policies and procedures are around these topics?

3. Some children’s parents are also vulnerable people and may put the child at risk or neglect

We all know that parent who sends their child to class improperly dressed, with poor personal hygiene and no water bottle or money for a drink. You suspect they may not be that well looked after at home and the parent is clearly struggling. That child’s safety is your organisation’s responsibility, and you need to know how to act appropriately to help them. Often adults don’t act because they fear reporting situations of neglect may result in splitting up a family. Unless the child is in serious danger, authorities will usually work in these types of situations to provide additional support for a family, rather than remove the child.

4. Personal reputation if you could have done something and failed to intervene

Almost every legislative review of a serious child abuse case concludes that there were failings to report by adults who had the opportunity to do so. Knowing you could have stopped abuse but didn't act is not a position anyone wants to be in, but unless coaches feel confident with their organisation’s Child Protection procedures and policies, they might inadvertently find themselves in that situation. A fear of doing the wrong thing, or wrongly accusing someone can sometimes stop people from doing anything at all.

5. The reputation of your organisation if something goes wrong

Nobody wants a situation of abuse in their organisation, but if it happens, you can be sure your customers will be watching to see how you handle it. Fear of negative media coverage can also sometimes discourage organisations from speaking out about abuse, but there is no doubt press will be critical regarding the failings of your organisation if poor practice is revealed. Prioritising safeguarding is not only a moral and legal duty, but it’s also smart for business – you’re demonstrating you value the children in your care, as much as you value their fees, and customers with children are looking for organisations they feel they can trust.

Sending your staff on an individualised training course is a great start to helping them understand the basics of safeguarding, but ensuring coaches know how to practically apply their knowledge within your organisation’s specific cheerleading, gymnastics or dance context is critical to keeping children safe. Training (whether with an external company like Squad Safe or internally with your Safeguarding Lead) should form an annual part of your staff’s continued professional development.

You can find out more about Squad Safe's Sport Specific Staff Training for Cheerleading, Dance and Gymnastics here:

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