The protection and safety of the children is important at all times and there are ways in which this can be done at the beginning and end of the session.I have seen malpractice in this area with coaches and that is unacceptable and lazy as this is the most important element above all aspects of the session.We have to move away from the era of letting children run wild at the beginning and the end of sessions.There are certain questions regarding safety a coach has to ask themselves when they arrive at the session which are, How far away are the children from opening the car door to the session grid?,do they have to walk down pathways? are there any areas where they are walking past buildings and other danger areas?,Is the field used for other reasons such as dog walkers or runners? this is an important element as the majority of fields i have worked on have been used at the same time for many other reasons at the same time as the sessions from dog walkers to baseball sessions to people running.
Once you have the questions on your mind you can start answering them with safety measures to counter the dangers.It is important to have a coach or volunteers waiting at the areas where the children arrive whether it be a car park or on the side of the road.Coaches should make this priority to meet and greet the players and their families and escort them to the field especially in Car Parks as there are multiple dangers in a Car Park as the cars have to pull in and park and then reverse and if you there are 50 children arriving then you have to make sure they aren’t dodging children.Because of this the Coach should be there to help the children to the field and acting as a traffic controller at times to make sure they are safe you will find that when the parents see this they will help out and set a good example.The coach should group a few children together and walk them to the field.
At the end of the session it is important to not allow the children to run to their parents this is dangerous as you don’t know where they are running and would be easy for predators to pounce so this must be safeguarded and must always be a strict policy.At the end of the session keep them all together and have them one at a time or if you have an assistant coach with you have them ask him/her also ask you if you can leave, i always have my hand up for a high 5 so they know they aren’t allowed to leave the group until i have given them a high 5.Tell the parents and make them aware on the first session what you expect when allowing the children to leave and have them come to collect the child from the group but not to take them away as they must leave with the high 5 and permission.A very important element to this is to have the children wave to their parents first and have them tell you who they are leaving with and can they spot something important about what they are wearing.After a few weeks you will know all of their parents but it is always good to ask even when you know it is safe for them to leave just to set a good example and the parents will be very much appreciated, this stops any dangers of children leaving with the wrong people or possibly watched by a waiting danger.
I have often been asked what my thoughts are in regard to children giving you notes from parents allowing them to walk home or bike it home and every time i would say I do not like it at all ! and the reason for that is you don’t know what could happen to them on they’re way home there are hidden dangers everywhere in the modern world and for an innocent child lacking world experience there are many issues with walking home such as getting knocked over by a car, abduction,falling off of bike and injuring themselves.Because of this i would always urge a parent to find another way, I personally don’t allow it to happen unless the child is older,ask the parent is there a cousin ? a babysitter, trusted family friend or anyone you could trust to pick the child up? and if there is none then i would talk to them about maybe having a friend of the child’s parents at the session to help out in a car pool, you will find that parents are always happy to help out.
These policies in how you structure your safety aspects are important and must never be neglected.Coaches must always take a look around and be aware of any dangers on the field at all times, it is good to have coaches in the Car Park for other reasons also as they can take a look around and just be aware who is there and any unknown faces.This is also done throughout the session familiarize yourself with the local faces and who is there regular and whether there is anything or anybody out of the ordinary on the field.I f you stay aware and stick to your strict policies in Child Protection every session will fly by safely and successfully.
If anybody has any other protection policies or theories then please add to this by adding a comment below