Digital technology to communicate with children
When using mobile phones (or other devices) to communicate by voice, video or text (including texting, email and instant messaging), the following precautions should be taken to ensure the safety of children and adults at risk:
- Avoid contacting a child through their personal mobile number and instead seek contact through a parent/carer, or a group message which includes other coxes and rowers.
- Ensure a method of accountability is arranged, for example, copies of any texts or recordings of web calls should be made available to the SWO or to the parents if required
- If using text, it should be only for communicating rowing specific information such as reminders about upcoming events, which kit to bring, or training timings – do not engage in conversation
- If a child misinterprets such communication and tries to engage conversation, take the following steps:
- End the conversation or stop replying
- Suggest discussing the subject further at the next training session or event
- Refer to the WSO.
If concerned about the child, provide them with contact details for the SWO or British Rowing or the NSPCC
Whatsapp groups are the club’s preference for communication around rowing for under 18s as it allows for the quick dissemination of information, transparency with parents/carers and communication is not on a one-to-one basis.
When setting up a WhatsApp group for the use of communicating with those under 18:
- Parents/carers of U18s should be added to the group – both as a means of policing the group but also as a means to facilitate rowing sessions.
- At least one DBS checked member MUST be included in the group. If the member setting up the group is DBS checked they must add another.
- The “Disappearing Messages” setting must NOT be turned on.
- Never directly message anyone in the group, only via the group itself.
- Consider setting the sending of messages being set to Admins only.
- Ensure that all participants are made aware that the committee may require an export of the chat at any time for the use in disciplinary (or potentially criminal) matters.