All our instructors have an Enhanced DBS, insurance, safeguarding and first aid training. Your child’s wellbeing is always paramount. To ensure everyone’s safety, here’s the Appropriate Touch Policy issued to our instructors:
The vast majority of our karate students are children and as instructors, we sometimes find ourselves in situations where it is necessary to touch a child. Touching is an effective form of non-verbal communication and is healthy as long as it’s part of a safe teaching practice and follows safeguarding guidelines.
The wellbeing of children is obviously paramount but it’s also essential to protect ourselves from our actions being misinterpreted. Here’s the keys points of our Appropriate Touch Policy:
Ensure that your actions are visible to all
Any physical contact with a child should be in full view of others. Avoid being alone with any child.
Not everyone likes to be touched
It’s important to respect people’s personal space and to recognise that some children will be uncomfortable with you being too close or making contact with them. If you’re demonstrating or correcting a technique, it’s a good idea to ask first if they’re comfortable with close proximity or contact. Children must understand that they can say no at any time.
Why do we need to touch?
It’s perfectly natural to touch a student for certain reasons and in certain circumstances. For example, you could ask a student to relax their shoulders but because they’re holding a difficult stance they may not respond. In this instance, contact might help the child to understand. With karate training, there are many other instances where touching is appropriate.
Areas to avoid contact
If it fits into a swimming costume or swimming trunks, it’s private. Mouths are also private. Hugging side by side is fine. Unnecessary contact such as tickling is inappropriate.
Karate suits and belts
I’d personally advise not to help a child put their gi top or bottoms on (they should be able to dress themselves) but we are often asked to tie their gis and belts up. To avoid unnecessary contact, always keep your hands at waist level.
If a child makes contact with you
From trying to sit on your lap whilst you’re taking the register to just throwing their arms around you for a hug as you’re standing up and teaching, children will often initiate contact with you. To avoid any misunderstandings, I personally say ‘thank you’ and move away. Distraction techniques or politely asking the child to break contact also tend to work.
Remember that you are accountable for your actions and that any contact with a child meets their needs, not yours. As the club’s Designated Safeguarding Leader, I’m happy to discuss any queries you may have.