Code of Ethics and Good Practice

Table of Contents

  1. Core Values
  2. Policy Statement
  3. Code of Conduct for Young People
  4. Guidelines for Parents
  5. Guidelines for Sports Leaders
  6. Leaders/ Coaches Code of Conduct
  7. Disciplinary Procedures
  8. Recruitment and Selection Policy
  9. Bullying Policy
  10. Guidelines on General Issues
  11. Child Welfare and Protection Procedures
  12. Application Forms

Core Values

The work of Dungarvan Gymnastics Club is based on the following principles :Young People’s experience of sport should be guided by what is best for the young person. The stages of development and the ability of the young person should guide the types of activity provided within the club. Adults will need to have a basic understanding of the needs of young people, including physical, emotional and personal.


Integrity in relationships:

Adults interacting with young people in sport should do so with integrity and respect for the child.  There is a danger that sporting contexts can be used to exploit or undermine children.  All adult actions in sport should be guided by what is best for the child and in the context of quality, open working relationships.   Verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse of any kind is unacceptable within sport.


Quality atmosphere and ethos

Sport for young people should be conducted in a safe, positive and encouraging atmosphere.  A child-centered ethos will help to ensure that competition and specialisation are kept in their appropriate place. 



All children should be treated in an equitable and fair manner regardless of age, ability, sex, religion, social and ethnic background or political persuasion.  Children with disability should be involved in sports activities in an integrated way, thus allowing them to participate to their potential alongside other children.


Fair Play:

Fair play is the guiding principle of the Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children's Sport.


All children’s sport should be conducted in an atmosphere of fair play.  Ireland has contributed and is committed to the European Code of Sports Ethics, which defines fair play as: “much more than playing within the rules”.  It incorporates the concepts of friendship, respect for others and always playing with the right spirit.  Fair play is defined as a way of thinking, not just behaving.  It incorporates issues concerned with the elimination of opportunities, excessive commercialisation and corruption.

(European Sports Charter and Code of Ethics, Council of Europe, 1993).



A balanced approach to competition can make a significant contribution to the development of young people, while at the same time providing fun, enjoyment and satisfaction. However, often competitive demands are placed on children too early, which results in excessive levels of pressure on them. This can contribute to a high level of drop out from sport. Leaders should aim to put the welfare of the child first and competitive standards second. A child-centered approach will help to ensure that competition and specialisation are kept in their appropriate place.


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Policy Statement

Dungarvan Gymnastics Club is fully committed to safeguarding the well being of its members.  Every individual in Dungarvan Gymnastics Club should at all times, show respect and understanding for members rights, safety and welfare and conduct themselves in a way that reflects the principles of the organisation and the guidelines contained in the Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport.

In Dungarvan Gymnastics Club our first priority is the welfare of the young people and we are committed to providing an environment which will allow participants to perform to the best of their ability, free from bullying and intimidation.


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Code of Conduct for Young People

Dungarvan Gymnastics Club wishes to provide the best possible environment for all young people involved in the sport.   Young people deserve to be given enjoyable, safe sporting opportunities, free of abuse of any kind.   These participants have rights, which must be respected, and responsibilities that they must accept. Young people should be encouraged to realise that they have responsibilities to treat other participants and sports leaders with fairness and respect.


Young players are entitled to:



Young players should always:



Young players should never:



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Guidelines for Parents

Dungarvan Gymnastics Club  believes that parents should…. 

  Be a role model for your child and maintain the highest standards of conduct when interacting with children, other parents, with officials and organisers

  Always behave responsibly and do not seek to unfairly affect the sport or gymnast

  Never intentionally expose any young participant to embarrassment or disparagement by the use of flippant or sarcastic remarks

  Always recognise the value and importance of the volunteers who provide sporting/recreational opportunities for your child. Do not publicly question the judgment or honesty of referees, coaches or organisers.  Respect referees, coaches, organisers and other gymnasts. 

  Encourage your child to abide by the rules. Teach your child that honest endeavour is as important as winning and do all you can to encourage good sportsmanship.

  Set a good example by applauding good display on both sides. Encourage mutual respect for teammates and other gymnasts.

  Parents should support all efforts to remove abusive behaviour and bullying behaviour in all its forms. Please read the bullying policy within the club / organisation’s guidelines.


Parents Code of Conduct:

  1. I will respect the rules and procedures set down in Dungarvan Gymnastics Club Code of Ethics for Children in Sport.
  1. I will respect my child’s teammates, leaders, (e.g.. coaches, officials, judges), and parents, as well as gymnasts, parents and coaches from opposing teams. I will encourage my child to treat other participants, coaches, selectors, and managers with respect.
  1. I will give encouragement and applaud only positive accomplishments whether from my child, his/her teammates, their opponents or the officials.
  1. I will respect my child’s leader(s) and support his/her efforts
  1. I will respect the officials and their authority during sessions and events.
  1. I will never demonstrate threatening or abusive behaviour or use foul language.


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Guidelines for Sports Leaders

Leaders in children’s sport should strive to create a positive environment for the children in their care.  They have an overall responsibility to take the necessary steps to ensure that positive and healthy experiences are provided.

Dungarvan Gymnastics Club recognises the key role leaders (coaches, selectors and team managers, etc.) play in the lives of children in sport.  

All Leaders should have as their first priority the children’s safety and enjoyment of the sport and should adhere to the guidelines and regulations set out in the club’s Code of Ethics.

Leaders must respect the rights, dignity and worth of every child and must treat everyone equally, regardless of sex, ethnic origin, religion or ability.

Leaders working with young people in gymnastics should be suitable and appropriately qualified.   Leaders will be expected to go through appropriate recruitment and selection procedures, (see application and reference forms overleaf), that apply to all persons with substantial access to young people, whether paid or unpaid. References will be needed and will be followed up.

There will be a ‘sign-up’ procedure, whereby the appointed/reappointed leaders agree to abide by the Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children in Sport and to the policies and code of the club / association.

Leaders will be given a copy of the club ’s code of ethics and they should be made aware of the procedures contained within the club’s code.

Once appointed the Leader must act as a role model and promote the positive aspects of sport and of gymnastics and maintain the highest standards of personal conduct.

The use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco must be actively discouraged as being incompatible with a healthy approach to sporting activity.  

Remember your behaviour to players, other officials, and opponents will have an effect on the gymnasts in your care.

Be generous with praise and never ridicule or shout at players for making mistakes.  All young gymnasts are entitled to respect.

Be careful to avoid the “star system”.  Each child deserves equal time and attention.

Care must be taken not to expose a child intentionally or unintentionally to embarrassment or disparagement by use of sarcastic or flippant remarks about the child or his/her family.

Physical punishment or physical force must never be used.  Never punish a mistake - by verbal means, physical means, or exclusion.

Insist that players in your care respect the rules of the sport.   Insist on fair play and ensure players are aware you will not tolerate cheating or bullying behaviour.

Remember that young players play for fun and enjoyment and that skill development and personal satisfaction have priority over highly structured competition.  Never make winning the only objective.

Encourage the development of respect for opponents, officials, selectors and other coaches and avoid criticism of fellow coaches.

When travel/overnight travel is involved, the Leaders traveling with children must sign a separate agreement.    Parents and participants will also be asked to sign permission forms in these instances.

Leaders are responsible for setting and monitoring the boundaries between a working relationship and friendship with gymnasts.  It is advisable for coaches not to involve young gymnasts in their personal life i.e. visits to coaches home or overnight stays. 

Avoid working alone and ensure there is adequate supervision for all activities.

It is important to realise that certain situations or friendly actions could be misinterpreted by the participant or by outsiders.

When approached to take on a new gymnast, ensure that any previous coach-student relationship has been ended by the student/others in a professional manner.

When young gymnasts are invited into adult groups/squads, it is advisable to get agreement from a parent/carer.   Boundaries of behaviour in adult groups are normally different from the boundaries that apply to junior groups/squads.   

Leaders who become aware of a conflict between their obligation to their gymnast and their obligation to their governing body must make explicit the nature of the conflict and the loyalties and responsibilities involved, to all parties concerned.

Leaders should communicate and co-operate with medical and ancillary practitioners in the diagnosis, treatment and management of their gymnasts’ medical or related problems. Avoid giving advice of a personal or medical nature if you are not qualified to do so.  Any information of a personal or medical nature must be kept strictly confidential unless the welfare of the child requires the passing on of this information

The nature of the relationship between leader and a participant can often mean that a leader will learn confidential information about a gymnast or gymnast’s family.  This information must be regarded as confidential and except where abuse is suspected, must not be divulged to a third party without the express permission of the player/family

Set realistic goals for the participants and do not push young gymnasts. Create a safe and enjoyable environment

Do not criticise other leaders, (officials, coaches, and selectors).  You are the role model for the children in your care

Leaders should avoid the use of alcohol, before coaching, during events, on trips with young gymnasts.


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Leaders/ Coaches Code of Conduct

Leaders / Coaches should familiarise themselves with the Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport and with the Gymnastics Ireland Association Code of Conduct and follow the procedures if they suspect or receive complaints of abuse of any sort

Leaders should be

  Where possible Leaders should avoid:

  Sports Leaders should not:

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Disciplinary, Complaints and Appeals Procedure

This procedure has been put in place to allow all members who are dissatisfied to register their complaint in a formal way

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Recruitment and Selection Policy

Dungarvan Gymnastics Club will take all reasonable steps to ensure that leaders are appropriately qualified and suitable to work with young people.   These procedures apply to all persons with substantial access to young people, whether paid or unpaid.

  The responsibilities of the role and the level of experience/qualifications required should be drawn up and clearly stated beforehand.

  Applicants should complete an application form which should include a self-declaration section / form.

  Formal vetting procedures should be availed of when and if available.

  References should be verified by the club.

  A probationary period is advisable and should be established through an informal interview, which can be used to assess the leader’s commitment and interest to the club

  Every effort should be made to manage and support appointed Sport Leaders, including awareness of the code of conduct. Adequate supervision should be provided, a leader should not have to work alone.

  A decision to appoint a Sports Leader is the responsibility of the club  and not of any one individual within it. The club’s committee should ratify all recommendations for appointment. 

  When storing information in relation to applicant’s information should be treated as sensitive and confidential. It should be kept in a secure place that is only accessible to nominated officers.


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Bullying Policy

What is Bullying?

Bullying can be defined as repeated aggression be it verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against others.

  It is behaviour that is intentionally aggravating and intimidating and occurs mainly in social environments such as schools, clubs and other organisations working with children and young people. It includes behaviours such as teasing, taunting, threatening, hitting and extortion behaviour by one or more children against a victim.

  How would you know if a child is being bullied?

All bullies operate using furtiveness, threats and fear. Bullying can therefore only survive in an environment where the victim does not feel empowered to tell someone who can help or in which it is not safe to do so.

The following indicators are warning signs that a young person might be getting bullied.

There are other possible reasons for many of the above

  Who should deal with bullying?

While the more extreme forms of bullying would be regarded as physical or emotional abuse and are reported to the health board or An Garda Síochana, dealing with bullying behaviour is normally the responsibility of all Leaders within this club / organisation.

  How can it be prevented?

What is the ‘No Blame’ Approach?

Step 1 – Interview with the victim

If you find that there has been an incident of bullying, first talk to the victim. At this stage find out who was involved and what the victim is now feeling. Try asking the following questions:

Step 2 – Meet with all involved

Arrange to meet with all those involved; this should include some bystanders, those who may have colluded, those who joined in and those who initiated the bullying.

Step 3 – Explain the problem

The distress being suffered as a result of the bullying incident is explained. At this stage the details of the incident or the allocation of the blame is not discussed. Explain the feelings of loneliness, feeling left out, rejected, laughed at. Try asking questions:

·         Would they like it if it happened to them

·         “Someone here in this group was bullied by someone within the group, what could we do to see it does not happen again?”

·         Listen, watch out for reactions, and pick up on any without isolating anyone

Step 4 – Share the responsibility

Explain what steps / controls may have to be introduced to prevent further incidents and how everyone will loose out as a result

Step 5 – Ask the group for their ideas

At this stage the group is encouraged to suggest ways that would make the victim feel happier. All positive responses are noted. Use phrases “if it were you” to encourage a response. Listen to all suggestions and note them

Step 6 – Leave it to them

Now the problem has been identified, solutions suggested, the problem is now handed over to the group to solve. Arrange to meet again in a week’s time. Pass responsibility over to the group and give a time frame within which something must be done

Step 7 – Meet them again

Each member of the group, including the bully, discuss how things are going, who is doing what and have there been other incidents. This allows for continual monitoring and also keeps all involved in the process.

Again enforce the idea of the ‘team’ looking after each other at regular intervals to ensure it is know that bullying or intimidating behaviour will not be tolerated.


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Guidelines on General Issues


There is extra responsibility on leaders when they transport young people to events.  Adults should:


 General Supervision


Overnight & Away trips



Dungarvan Gymnastics Club will :

Physical Contact

Physical contact during sport should always be intended to meet the child's needs, NOT the adult's. The adult will probably use appropriate contact when the aim is to assist in development of the skill or activity or for safety reasons, e.g. to prevent or treat an injury. This should be in an open environment with the permission and understanding of the participant. In general


Use of Photographic and Mobile Equipment


Remember having photographic and filming guidelines is not about preventing parents from taking pictures, it is to ensure that only those who have a right to take photographs do so. Anyone concerned about photography taking place at events or training sessions can contact the children’s officer/ designated person and ask them to deal with the matter


The purpose is to reduce the risk of inappropriate, unsolicited attention from people within and outside the sport. Group photographs where the club is identified rather than individuals are good for publicity without creating a risk to those in the photographs. When publishing photographs the following guidelines will be adhered to : -



Amateur photographers/film/video operators wishing to record an event or practice session should seek accreditation with the children’s officer, event organiser or leader of session. Permission forms should be available on site.


To ensure spectators and participants are informed of the policy, the club/event/organisation should display the following information prior to the start of an event and where possible make an announcement over a tanoy.

“In line with the recommendation in Dungarvan Gymnastics Club Code of Conduct, the promoters of this event request that any person wishing to engage in any video, zoom or close range photography should register their details with the organisers.  It is not advisable that children are photographed or filmed without their permission and/or the permission of their parent/guardian”.


Mobile Phones

Mobile phones are often given to children for security, enabling parents to keep in touch and make sure they are safe. Young people value their phones highly as it offers them a sense of independence. In addition mobile phones allow quick and easy contact, which can make a safe and efficient way to carry out club business. However such technology has also allowed an increase in direct personal contact with young people, in some cases used to cross personal boundaries and cause harm to young people. Within clubs there is a need to encourage responsible and secure use of mobile phones by adults and young people.


As a young person remember

As a Leader remember

Don’t use the phone in certain locations; inappropriate use of your camera phone may cause upset or offence to another person, e.g. changing rooms



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Child Welfare and Protection Procedures

Dungarvan Gymnastics Club accepts that organisations, which include young people among its members, are vulnerable to the occurrence of child abuse. Below are the procedures for dealing with any welfare or protection issue that may arise.  Child welfare and the protection of young people is the concern of all adults at all times, irrespective of their role within the club .

  If there are grounds for concern  about the safety or welfare of a young person you should react to the concern. Persons unsure about whether or not certain behaviours are abusive and therefore reportable, should contact the duty social worker in the local health service executive or social services department where they will receive advice. Grounds for concern include a specific indication from a child, a statement from a person who witnessed abuse or an illness, injury or behaviour consistent with abuse.

  A report may be made by any member in the club but should be passed on to the Children’s Officer who may in turn have to pass the concern to the local Statutory Authorities. It is not the responsibility of anyone working within Dungarvan Gymnastics Club, in a paid or voluntary capacity, or those working in affiliated organisations, to take responsibility or decide whether or not child abuse is taking place. That is the job of the local statutory authorities. However, there is a responsibility to protect children by assisting the appropriate agencies so that they can then make enquiries and take any necessary action to protect the young person.

Everyone should follow both procedures outlined below, firstly the procedure for responding to a child in distress and secondly the procedure for reporting the concern.


Response to a Child Disclosing Abuse


When a young person discloses information of suspected abuse you should:

(a)   deal with any allegation of abuse in a sensitive and competent way through listening to and facilitating the child to tell about the problem, rather than interviewing the child about details of what happened

(b)   stay calm and not show any extreme reaction to what the child is saying. Listen compassionately, and take what the child is saying seriously

(c)   understand that the child has decided to tell something very important and has taken a risk to do so. The experience of telling should be a positive one so that the child will not mind talking to those involved in the investigation

(d)   be honest with the child and tell them that it is not possible that keep information a secret

(e)   make no judgmental statements against the person whom the allegation is made

(f)     not question the child unless the nature of what s/he is saying is unclear. Leading questions should be avoided. Open, non-specific questions should be used such as “Can you explain to me what you mean by that”

(g)   check out the concerns with the parents/guardians before making a report unless during so would endanger the child or compromise an investigation

(h)   give the child some indication of what would happen next, such as informing parents/guardians, health service executive or social services. It should be kept in mind that the child may have been threatened and may feel vulnerable at this stage.

(i)      Carefully record the details

(j)     Pass on this information to the Children's Officer.

(k)   Reassure the child that they have done the right thing in telling you


Reporting Suspected or Disclosed Child Abuse

The following steps should be taken in reporting child abuse to the statutory authorities:

(a)   Observe and note dates, times, locations and contexts in which the incident occurred or suspicion was aroused, together with any other relevant information

(b)   Report the matter as soon as possible to the Children's Officer. If the Children's Officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the child has been abused or is at risk of abuse, s/he will make a report to the health service executive/social services who have statutory responsibility to investigate and assess suspected or actual child abuse

(c)   In cases of emergency, where a child appears to be at immediate and serious risk and the Children's Officer is unable to contact a duty social worker, the police authorities should be contacted. Under no circumstances should a child be left in a dangerous situation pending intervention by the Statutory Authorities

(d)   If the Children's Officer is unsure whether reasonable grounds for concern exist s/he can informally consult with the local health board/social services, .S/he will be advised whether or not the matter requires a formal report.

The Children's Officer when reporting suspected or actual child abuse to the Statutory Authorities will first inform the family of their intention to make such a report, unless doing so would endanger the child or undermine an investigation


The Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act, 1998 provides immunity from civil liability to persons who report child abuse reasonably and in good faithto the Health Service Executive or the Gardai . The act also covers the offence of ‘false reporting’.  The main provisions of the Act are:

  1. The provision of immunity from civil liability to any person who reports child abuse “reasonably and in good faith” to designated officers of Health |Service Executive or any member of An Garda Síochana;
  1. The provision of significant protections for employees who report child abuse. These protections cover all employees and all forms of discrimination up to and including, dismissal;
  1. The creation of a new offence of false reporting of child abuse where a person makes a report of child abuse to the appropriate authorities “knowing that statement to be false”. This is a new criminal offence designed to protect innocent persons from malicious reports.

Allegations Against Sports Leaders

  Dungarvan Gymnastics Club has agreed procedures to be followed in cases of alleged child abuse against Sports Leaders. If such an allegation is made against Sports Leader working within the club, two procedures should be followed:

  The safety of the child making the allegation should be considered and the safety of any other children who may be at risk. The club should take any necessary steps that may be necessary to protect children in its care

  The issue of confidentiality is important. Information is on a need to know basis and the Sports Leader should be treated with respect and fairness.


The reporting procedure

  If the designated person has reasonable grounds for concern, the matter should be reported to the local health board / social services, following  standard reporting procedures.


The Sports Leader

  While the children's officer makes the report to the local health board, the Chair of the club should deal with the Sports Leader in question.


The governing body should be informed by a Designated Person that the leader has been asked to stand aside

  Governing bodies can consider disciplinary action on the leader but should ensure that this does not interfere with the investigation of the Statutory Authorities. It is important that governing bodies consider the outcome of the investigation and any implications it might have. The fact that the alleged abuser has not been prosecuted or been found guilty does not mean that they are appropriate to work with young people in the future.


  Confidentiality should be maintained in respect of all issues and people involved in cases of abuse, welfare or bad practice. It is important that the rights of both the child and the person about whom the complaint has been made are protected.

  The following points should be kept in mind:


Anonymous Complaints

  Anonymous complaints can be difficult to deal with but should not be ignored.  In all cases the safety and welfare of the child/children is paramount.   Any such complaints relating to inappropriate behaviour should be brought to the attention of the Children's Officer .  The information should be checked out and handled in a confidential manner. 


  Rumours should not be allowed to hang in the air.  Any rumours relating to inappropriate behaviour should be brought to the attention of the Children's Officer , and checked out without delay.



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S.M. 2007.
Copyright © 2007  [Dungarvan Gymnastics Club]. All rights reserved.
Revised: March 07, 2007 .