/ Climbing Walls - Sexual Exploitation

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The New NickB 24 Apr 2018

My other half had to have a chat with her 16 year old daughter tonight, after we discovered that manager of the climbing centre which she used to go to has been in court on multiple Child Sex Charges. Thankfully, she was as surprised as us. However, it got me thinking a little, climbing centres are an example of where we hand the care of children over to people who we might not know, but expect them to provide a level of care, protecting the dangers inherent in the sport, but also these more general dangers.

I'll leave the specifics of this case, because there is an ongoing legal process. I would be interested to know how climbing centre operators approach child protection. I'm assuming all staff are DBS checked, but what else do you do?

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climbEdclimb 24 Apr 2018
In reply to The New NickB:

At one of the centres I worked at all instructors and duty managers (maybe all staff) had their DBS checks and it was being encouraged for staff to go and do the Safeguarding and Protecting Children course although this was partly inline with ticking some of the pre-requisites for the MTA Development Coach. 

Other than that there were times when we had informal talks about child safety and safeguarding in instructor and staff meetings where it was talking about what to watch out for from others around (inferring members of the public, parents, other staff) as well as how to make sure you protect yourselves from being accused (aka. don't end up in a situation where it is only you and a child in a closed space).

Post edited at 17:48
The New NickB 25 Apr 2018
In reply to climbEdclimb:

Thanks

jezb1 25 Apr 2018
In reply to The New NickB:

"I'm assuming all staff are DBS checked, but what else do you do?"

Genuine question, as you're a parent, I'm not, what else would you want / expect them to do?

Rampikino 25 Apr 2018
In reply to jezb1:

A DBS check is fine as one small element of safeguarding as a whole, but there needs to be a whole lot more than just a check.  There needs to be a clear culture of awareness and adherence to safeguarding policies, a clear process for raising and reporting any concerns or incidents and training for staff.

The New NickB 25 Apr 2018
In reply to jezb1:

I’m not a parent technically, but I get your point. I’m involved in a few things that bring me in to contact with under 18s and for each I’m DBS checked and have had additional training, but I’m aware that DBS isn’t infallible. 

Its not a nice experience realising that someone you have trusted the care of a minor to isn’t worthy of that trust.

Abuse linked to sports coaching is quite prevelent in the news at the moment, so in addition to our reaction to yesterday’s shock news, I’m interested to know if the “industry” is do more than is strictly legally necessary. I’m the chairman of an athletics club, so also interested in how we can improve our practices and will be talking to our child protection officer this week.

AlanLittle 25 Apr 2018
In reply to Rampikino:

But how would you as a parent expect to be able to adequately inform yourself about the workplace culture & policies of every single place your child might go?

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The New NickB 25 Apr 2018
In reply to AlanLittle:

Clearly as children get older you can’t completely control where they go, but especially with younger children I suspect many parents are making conscious decisions about the places they allow their children to go based on how those places demonstrate good practice in safeguarding.

Aly 25 Apr 2018
In reply to The New NickB

> I'm assuming all staff are DBS checked, but what else do you do?

Do you mean all staff, or just those who will be regularly involved with supervising parties/teaching/running kids clubs etc.?  I expect some walls will employ staff solely to man the desk, serve in the cafe or run the gear shop.  Would you expect these staff to be DBS checked, and would it be reasonable for an employer to ask? 

The New NickB 25 Apr 2018
In reply to Aly:

It’s a good question, however a DBS check isn’t a high barrier in terms of cost or inconvenience. I would probably expect any public facing role where that “public” may be unsupervised children.

MischaHY 25 Apr 2018

In reply to The New NickB:

Thought this rang a bell so quested back through a conversation with a mate at the time who is an ex-employee and he said it closed for exactly that reason - boss got arrested and nobody wanted to take it over due to the debt. That said, the crime was reportedly committed online so non-wall related - still makes you sick though. 

Most climbing centres I've known and the one I've worked at have been very risk-concious and took steps to make sure groups were safe from potential abuse. DBS checks etc and regular staff rotation means eyes everywhere. I'd hope people could consider climbing gyms a safe environment but it always pays to be cautious. 

Aly 25 Apr 2018
In reply to The New NickB:

I understand where you’re coming from and agree that the cost or difficulty in getting the check is not an issue but an employer will need to justify requiring a DBS check from their staff.  Unless staff are directly teaching or caring for children I think one may struggle.  Working in any high street shop, takeaway or cafe will expose you to unsupervised children but would not necessarily require a check.

 

There is a tool here which gives a rough guide of what roles may require s check (in England & Wales anyway)

 

https://www.gov.uk/find-out-dbs-check

 

Neil Pratt 25 Apr 2018
In reply to The New NickB:

I can't speak for any specific climbing wall, as I visit a variety with groups as a freelance instructor, rather than being employed by one. DBS (or PVG here in Scotland) is an important first step, but safeguarding children's welfare as an instructor is much more about the mindset and processes you put in place: I'd expect any wall that provided activities for young people to have a written safeguarding policy in place to give staff a frame of reference to work from, and for the mindset to permeate regular training for staff as well as periodic 'child protection' sessions.
In my wider role as a youth work manager, I'd also expect any provider of activities for young people to be willing to chat to the parents of participants about how they manage the welfare of the children under their care, and would be concerned about the culture of any organisation that didn't see this as reasonable.

Andrew Kin25 Apr 2018
In reply to The New NickB:

I used to be involved in football coaching and we all had our CRB checks which was always referred as the 'not been caught yet' check.  My 15yr old son even has to do it for his refereeing as he referees minors.

What was always much more useful was the child welfare course you had to do to get your coaching badges.  EVERY club had to have a child welfare officer and EVERY coach had to have this course qualification.  It wasn't pleasant to be sat in a classroom being told of tell-tale signs from kids re abuse etc but in my opinion it was information which every coach needed to know.  I never had to act upon anything but I hope I would have the sense to see it if it did happen.  I wonder if the climbing walls have to go through anything like that.

From a climbing perspective you are indeed handing your kids over into a position of trust.  However I don't see it as any different to any other activity.  Gymnastics, football, athletics etc etc etc.  Maybe climbing is a little more hands on but its quite a close community where being 'close' to a child would be quite difficult to hide from other coaches.

Do climbing walls have a child welfare officer or similar?

Post edited at 10:52
marsbar 25 Apr 2018
In reply to The New NickB:

If there is ongoing legal process it may not be wise to publically name the wall, so I have reported.  Until conviction it seems unwise to identify the person.  I have reported for this reason.  Hope you understand.  

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In reply to The New NickB:

Going to have to close this one I'm afraid.

Alan

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