Child Protection Guidelines
The law defines a child as a person under the age of 16, or under 18 if in full-time education.
Instructors need to understand the added responsibilities of teaching children and also basic principles of growth and development through childhood to adolescence. Exercises should be appropriate to age and build. Instructors should not simply treat children as small adults, with small adult bodies.
There is no minimum age for a child beginning Martial Arts, as the build and maturity of individuals varies so much. However the nature of the class can be tailored to consider these factors. In general, the younger the child, the shorter the attention span. One hour is considered sufficient training time for the average child.
Pre-adolescent children have a metabolism that is not naturally suited to generating anaerobic power, and therefore they exercise better aerobically, that is, at a steadily maintained rate. However, they can soon become conditioned to tolerate exercise in the short explosive bursts that more suit Martial Arts training.
- Children should not do assisted stretching, as there is a real risk of damage with an inconsiderate or over-enthusiastic partner.
- Children should be carefully matched for size and weight for sparring practice.
- Great care must be taken, especially where children train in the proximity of adults, to avoid collision injury.
- Children should not do certain conditioning exercises, especially those which are heavy load bearing, for example weight training or knuckle push-ups.
- Children should not do any heavy or impact work but should concentrate on the development of speed, mobility, skill and general fitness.
A duty of care towards children, equivalent to that which a reasonable prudent parent should expect from a teacher in a school environment, is expected from a sports coach, and therefore of a Martial Arts Instructor. Children need protecting from any form of physical or mental abuse from adults or other children.
Parents or guardians should be advised when to deliver and collect children. For example, if the lesson begins at 7.30pm, it could be known that the instructor would arrive and register students from 7.15pm onwards. No child should be left at the club before the specified time, unless the Instructor or a responsible person is present. A child taking part in a class should not be allowed to leave the club unsupervised. Parents who are prepared to send their children to train, unaccompanied, must accept responsibility for any consequences.
WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE
This addition to the coaches portfolio is to raise awareness to the issues underlined and also to serve as protection to instructors and children in their care. This information is based upon guidelines received from the National Coaching Foundation. A couple of basic principles should be remembered;