There are a number of pieces of legislation and good practice guidelines in both jurisdictions that place a moral and legal duty on sports organisations. These require sports organisations to have policies and procedures in place and to use the influential role they have in society to promote best practice. All legislation and guidance regarding children within the UK and ROI is underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).
Republic of Ireland - Children First Guidance
The welfare of the child is paramount. This is also referred to as the ‘paramountcy principle’, which is the key foundation principle of the Child Care Act 1991. Implementation of this principle means being ‘child-centred’. Children’s interests and welfare are the primary focus in planning and delivery of services.
Children have a right to be heard, listened to and taken seriously. Taking account of their age and understanding, children should be consulted and involved in all matters and decisions that may affect their lives. Where there are concerns about a child’s welfare, there should be opportunities provided for their views to be heard independently of their parents/carers.
Parents/carers have a right to respect and should be consulted and involved in matters that concern their family.
Early intervention and support should be available to promote the welfare of children and families, particularly where they are vulnerable and at risk of not receiving adequate care and protection.
A child’s gender, religion, culture and developmental stage should be considered when taking protective action.
Professionals/agencies working with adults who, for a range of reasons, may have serious difficulties meeting their children’s basic needs for safety and security should always consider the impact of their adult client/patient’s behaviour on a child and act in the child’s best interests
The Children (NI) Order 1995 is the key piece of legislation. This deals with public and private law about children in Northern Ireland. It is based on 5 key principles:
These are the cornerstone principles of good practice
Paramountcy: The welfare of the child shall be the paramount consideration in any decision made.
Parental Responsibility: Parents have responsibilities towards their children rather than rights over them. A wider range of people can now have parental responsibility.
Prevention: Preventing children from being abused and supporting them to promote their health and welfare.
Partnership: The best way of meeting children’s needs is to work with parents and carers, and for agencies to work together.
Protection: Duty to investigate where a child is at risk of significant harm because of a lack of care or actual abuse.
Further info on legislation and safeguarding good practice