Make Your Club Safer for Children
If your club offers youth sports programs, camps or child watch services, you have a responsibility to keep children safe. With an increase in reported cases of abuse related to youth sports or camps over the past few years, this is an excellent time to review your club’s hiring and safety practices.
As the owner or manager, you are responsible for your staff’s actions and what happens at your club. Proactively implementing careful hiring practices and written safety policies while conducting regular training forms the foundation of your club’s safety culture.
When hiring employees or evaluating potential volunteers:
- Ask candidates to complete a form authorizing your club to perform a background check if that’s permitted in your state. Then engage a reputable provider to conduct these checks.
- Require candidates to complete employment applications that include questions about past allegations of crimes involving child abuse.
- Conduct face-to-face interviews to evaluate each candidate’s experience and potential fit into your organization.
- Check professional and personal references — provided by non-family members.
Along with stronger hiring practices, implementing safety policies can enhance your club’s safe environment for children:
- Develop a written code of conduct and an ethical behavior policy to guide interactions between individuals, then train your staff. Work with your club’s legal counsel to develop appropriate policies and procedures for your club.
- Document all safety policies and place them in a central location your staff can access for quick and easy reference.
- Hold regular staff training sessions to review your policies, discuss changes and reinforce your club’s commitment to providing a safe environment.
- Include sexual misconduct prevention and how to report alleged incidents in your required staff training.
- Avoid putting staff members in situations where sexual misconduct or the perception of it might occur.
- Provide supervision whenever your staff or volunteers are working with children, and always maintain appropriate staff ratios so that no adult is alone with a child.
- Check that people already working at your club are not on state registries for child abuse or other criminal histories.
When new people join your staff, provide mandatory training about how to recognize and respond to allegations of inappropriate behavior or sexual misconduct. Update and repeat the training regularly to ensure your staff continues to follow all safety policies and stay aware of potential issues.
Children are taught to trust coaches, counselors and others in roles of authority. With your help, your staff can teach children positive lessons about hard work, dedication and believing in themselves. Take time to carefully screen your employees and volunteers, put policies and procedures in place, and provide ongoing training to build a safe environment where children can thrive.
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.
Jayson Scott has 14 years of experience as a commercial lines underwriter at The Cincinnati Insurance Company. Since 2014, he has supported Cincinnati’s growing Fitness, Sports & Recreation program, initially as the program’s dedicated specialist and now as national program director. For more information, contact Jayson_Scott@cinfin.com or 513.603.5885. Please visit cinfin.com/fitness-sports for more information.