Karate Issues - Club Guidelines

Here are some practical ways for your organisation to help safeguard the children and young people who take part in your activities:

Club Guidelines

  • Staff ratios.
  • Changing rooms.
  • Injuries and illness.
  • Collection by parents/carers.
  • Discipline.
  • Physical contact.
  • Sexual activity.
  • Participants with disabilities.

Staff ratios
Staff/participant ratios should be based on the age of the children involved, the degree of risk the activity involves, and whether there are disability needs. The lower the age of the participants, the greater the need for supervision. If the activity is mixed gender, male and female staff should be available. Your sport's Governing Body will be able to give you specific guidance.

Changing rooms

  • When children and young people use changing rooms, they should be supervised by two members of staff. Adult staff should not change or shower at the same time using the same facilities. For mixed gender activities, separate facilities should be available for boys and girls.
  • If a child feels uncomfortable changing or showering in public, no pressure should be placed on them to do so. Instead, they should be encouraged to shower or change at home.
  • If children with disabilities use your club, make sure they and their carers are involved in deciding how they should be assisted. Ensure they are able to consent to the assistance that is offered.

Injuries and illness
Your organisation should have guidelines and report forms for any injuries children sustain during activities. Where staff witness an injury the parents must be told as soon as possible. If the child needs medical attention you must arrange this immediately and inform the parents/carers as soon as possible. You should always ensure you have up-to-date contact details at sports activities or events and information about any relevant medical conditions.

Collection by parents/carers
Your organisation should develop and publicise policies about the collection of children and young people from sports activities. These policies should be based on the age of the children and the location, time and type of activity.
Make sure you receive permission from parents/carers for children and young people to participate in any of the games, competitions, training or practice sessions you run. You should provide a timetable of activities at the beginning of the season. You should also notify parents/carers of any changes to this timetable in writing.

Late collection of children
Late collection of children by parents presents clubs and coaches with a potentially difficult situation. Your organisation should develop written guidelines for parents explaining your policy for dealing with late collection of children.
The guidelines should:

  • Make clear that it is not your organisation's reponsibility to transport children home on behalf of parents who have been delayed.
  • Include a staff contact number and an instruction to parents/carers to phone if there is any likelihood of late collection.
  • Ask parents to provide an alternative contact name or number, for staff to use when they are not available on their usual number.

In cases of late collection, staff and volunteers:

  • Attempt to contact the child's parent or carer on their contact number.
  • Use the alternative contact name/number if necessary.
  • Wait with the child/young person at the sport facility, with other staff/volunteers or parents present if at all possible.
  • Remind parents/carers of the policy relating to late collection.


  • Take the child home or to any other location.
  • Send the child home with another person without permission from a parent or carer.
  • Ask the child to wait in a vehicle or sport facility with you alone.

When discipline is used it should be with the clear intention of teaching or reinforcing appropriate behaviour. It must not be used impulsively, to gain power, or to embarrass or humiliate a child/young person.
Discipline should be used only to:

  • Develop a sense of responsibility for behaviour.
  • Develop respect for others and their property.
  • Reinforce the rules or values of the sport.
  • Reinforce positive behaviour or attitudes.
  • Reinforce awareness of health and safety aspects of the activity.

Physical contact
Many sports require a degree of physical contact between sports staff and children or young people. Coaches and staff may need to use it to instruct, encourage, protect or comfort. Your organisation should develop and publicise clear guidelines about physical contact, so that adults and children/young people understand what are the appropriate types of touching and their appropriate contexts.
Physical contact during sport should always be intended to meet the child's needs, NOT the adult's. The adult should only use physical contact if their aim is to:

  • Develop sports skills or techniques.
  • To treat an injury.
  • To prevent an injury.
  • To meet the requirements of the sport.

The adult should explain the reason for the physical contact to the child. Unless the situation is an emergency, the adult should ask the child for permission.
The contact should not involve touching genital areas, buttocks or breasts.
Physical contact should not take place in secret or out of sight of others.
All injuries should be fully recorded by staff.

Sexual activity
Within sport, as within other activities, sexual relationships do occur. All sports organisations should therefore be aware of the law relating to sexual behaviour and should develop and promote guidelines relating to sexual activity. These guidelines should address sexual activity both between children and young people and between adults and young people.
Sexual activity between children/young people involved in sport should be prohibited during team events, in sports facilities or social activities organised by the club/organisation. Inappropriate or criminal sexual behaviour committed by a young person may lead to disciplinary action in accordance with the sports Governing Body guidance.
Sexual interactions between adults and young people (16+) involved in sport raise serious issues given the power imbalance inherent in the relationship. Where a young person is of the age of consent the power of the adult over that young person may influence their ability to genuinely consent to sexual activity. A coach or other adult in a position of authority may have significant power or influence over a young person’s career.
Sexual activity between adults and young people (16+) involved in the same sport should be prohibited when the adult is in a position of trust or authority (coach, trainer, official). Inappropriate or criminal sexual behaviour committed by an adult should lead to suspension and disciplinary action in accordance with the sports Governing Body guidlines.
Sexual activity between adults and children under the age of 16 is a criminal act and immediate action must be taken to report it.

Participants with disabilities

  • Children or young people with disabilities should have the same rights and opportunities as others involved in sport to have fun and be safe. Their particular vulnerability to abuse or neglect requires sports clubs/organisations to take additional steps to safeguard them.
  • Information relating to club policies and procedures should be fully accessible to children and young people with communication difficulties.
  • Specialist training or advice should be sought by clubs/organisations that involve children/young people with disabilities in sport. For example, when staff need to guide blind or partially sighted children, training will help ensure that they use the most appropriate methods. If training is not available, ask the child for advice or seek the advice of parents or carers.
  • When transporting child with disabilities, the vehicles used should meet the needs of the children and be roadworthy. Appropriate and trained escorts should be in attendance in the vehicle.
  • When children with disabilities are lifted or manually supported, the individual child should be treated with dignity and respect. Relevant health and safety guidelines must be followed to ensure the safety of the child and those assisting. It is recommended that those assisting receive receive appropriate training.

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