The Guardian's developed principle of "The Four & Six"
The Guardian has developed the principle of The Four & Six, the cornerstone for ensuring proactive safeguarding, through Safe-Guard.
What is The Four & Six Principle?
South Africa has arguably one of the best Constitutions in the world and our re-active safeguarding legislation is quite strong. Proactively however, our legislation is sorely lacking. South Africa doesn’t have much legislation that forces organisations (schools, sports clubs, churches, restaurants, hotels etc) who engage with children and vulnerable persons (see below) to be proactive. An interesting observation is that countries who have strong proactive legislation have significantly lower crimes against children.
Although children are statistically the most at risk demographic, it is important to bear in mind that there are other demographics who are at risk when organisations don’t implement proactive safeguarding measures. Those demographics include, but are not limited to women, mentally challenged persons, physically disabled persons, pre-peeking athletes, high performance athletes, elderly persons, minorities, those that identify as part of LGBTQIAP+ communities and others.
Safeguarding is such a big subject and to assist Designated Safeguarding Officers (DSO’s) with the implementation of their basic safeguarding structures into their schools and sports clubs, and really any organisation that may engage with children, The Guardian have developed THE FOUR & SIX PRINCIPLE. It is the absolute minimum of best international safeguarding practices that every organisation that engages with any type of vulnerable person should adopt.
The Four & Six in Schools
There are FOUR things that every school must ensure, through their Designated Safeguarding Officers, are always current and completed, and there are SIX things that every educator, volunteer, staff member, administrator, coach, and any person who works for an extended amount of time in the school must complete.
The Four & Six in Sport
There are FOUR things that every sports club must ensure, in accordance with the SASCOC policy have been addressed, and the SIX are the six things that every coach, mentor, technical official, volunteer, administrator, medical staff, chaperone, physio etc. must do.
The Four for Schools
Schools must develop a Safeguarding Policy and Procedure Manual as these are the rules of engagement when it comes to Safeguarding. It is the rules by which the Schools Executive expects all staff to abide to ensure best safeguarding practices for all learners, staff, parents, and the school. Our Safeguarding Policy and Procedure Manual has over 30 safeguarding Policies that would be tailored to ensure that it aligns to the schools’ specific needs and ethos.
School must ensure that they have appointed and trained a Designated Safeguarding Officer. The DSO must consistently grow and develop his/her knowledge in safeguarding to stay ahead of trends. The DSO must be empowered to address safeguarding both proactively through necessary budgets and authorities afforded to him/her and have the backing of senior management and the policy manual when he/she is expected to be reactive.
No safeguarding plan is complete without giving learners, educators, staff, coaches, and parents the ability to report anonymously. This does not remove existing reporting structures but rather adds to and assists the safeguarding framework that is implemented. Studies from all over the world show that anonymous reporting, if implemented correctly, assists the schools safeguarding efforts tremendously. Some of the reports that are reported more regularly are bullying, inappropriate relationships between learners and educators, drugs, alcohol, and sexual assault to name a few. It very often serves as an additional solution to uncover depression and attempted suicide. It also assists in the proactive space as schools have reported less unacceptable behaviour when learners and educators are aware that their actions can be reported anonymously. This is a powerful weapon in any DSO’s arsenal when it comes to safeguarding, however it is as effective as the DSO driving it.
For some this is the least important of the four, however, getting this wrong makes almost all other safeguarding efforts ineffective. It is one thing to have a strong Safeguarding Policy or a functional DSO, or even an Anonymous Reporting App, but unless the learners, staff and visitors to the school know how to access the solutions available, it really all comes to naught. A DSO must make use of communication strategies as often as possible. Whether that is scheduling trainings for learners, parents, or educators, or driving a social media awareness campaign or putting up posters around the school, communication is vital to ensuring effective safeguarding strategies.
The Six for Schools
Any person who may come into contact with learners for an extended period of time (more than three times in a month) whilst under the school’s management either as an employee, contractor or volunteer must complete the following 6 things:
They must be cleared, in accordance with Chapter 6 of The Sexual Offences Amendment Act, against the Sexual Offences Register.
They must be cleared against the Child Protection Register in accordance with the Children’s Act.
They must be cleared of having any previous convictions in accordance with the Policy of the school and the South African Schools Act.
They must sign the Declaration of Good Standing stating that they have never been asked to leave any previous place of work or where they were working as a volunteer, under any suspicious circumstances or behaviour involving a child.
They must sign to say that they accept the schools Code of Ethics which must dictate what the ethical standards are that the school expects persons who engage with the learners must adhere to.
Understanding the basics of safeguarding is important for all persons who may work, contract or volunteer in the school. This basic course should be done by all staff annually.
The Four for Sport
Every club must have safeguarding Policies and Procedures. These are the rules of engagement when it comes to safeguarding within all sports clubs whilst training or competing and when on tour. Most of South Africa’s Sporting Federations, in alignment with SASCOC’s Safeguarding Policy, would have developed their own Safeguarding Policy and Procedure Manual and this can generally be adopted by the club. It is vitally important because it ensures that all staff or volunteers are aware of what their responsibilities are regarding Safeguarding.
All sports clubs must ensure that they have appointed and trained a Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO). This DSO must be empowered to manage all aspects of the club’s safeguarding, both reactively and proactively. They must also be supported and empowered by the club’s committee in terms of safeguarding decisions that need to be made for all facets of the club; including but not limited to, training, competing, socialising, or touring.
No safeguarding plan is complete without giving all club members and visitors the ability to report anonymously on challenges they may face. This does not remove existing reporting structures but rather adds to and assists the safeguarding framework that is implemented. Studies from all over the world show that anonymous reporting, if implemented correctly, assists the clubs safeguarding efforts tremendously. Some of the reports that are reported more regularly are bullying, inappropriate online and real-world relationships between coaches and athletes, grooming and influenced team selection. This is also a powerful weapon in any DSO’s arsenal when it comes to safeguarding as it tends to ensure that any person who wants to engage with athletes for inappropriate reasons such as grooming tend to be deterred by the fact that their advances can be reported anonymously.
For some, the communication element of the FOUR is considered the least important, however, getting this wrong makes almost all other safeguarding efforts ineffective. It is one thing to have a strong Safeguarding Policies or a functional DSO, or even an Anonymous Reporting App, but unless all club members and visitors know how to access the solutions available, it really all comes to naught. A DSO must make use of all communication strategies as often as possible. Whether that is scheduling trainings for athletes or driving social media awareness campaign or putting up posters around the club informing members what the policies are and who the DSO is and how to report anonymously the efforts of the club will be quite ineffective. Communication is vital to ensuring effective safeguarding strategies.
The Six for Sport
Every person who assists the club in any way, either as a volunteer or as an employee must ensure that they have completed the following six things:
They must be cleared, in accordance with The Sexual Offences Amendment Act and SASCOC’s Safeguarding Policy, against the Sexual Offenders Register.
They must be cleared, in accordance with the Children’s Act and SASCOC’s Safeguarding Policy, against the Child Protection Register.
They must be cleared of having any previous convictions in accordance with the SASCOC’s Safeguarding Policy. The merits of this clearance must be considered when learning about a potential criminal conviction.
They must sign a Declaration of Good Standing, stating that they have never been asked to leave any previous place where they were working or volunteering under any suspicious circumstances or behaviour involving a child.
They must sign to say that they accept that they will behave at all times in alignment with the ethical standard expected of a coach.
Understanding the basics of safeguarding is important for all persons who may work or volunteer in all sports clubs. This basic course should be done annually by all persons who assist the club in any way.
Safe-Guard™ is a Safeguarding Administration Management Tool. When it comes to Safeguarding and ensuring that all the elements of the Safeguarding Policy are being adhered to there is a very real need to ensure that all safeguarding administration is current and up to date. Even when considering the “Principle of the Four and Six”, and ensuring that every club has accepted their Safeguarding Policy or appointed their DSO and every coach has done their clearances or signed their Code of Ethics.
Managing Safeguarding Administration is an enormous job for any federation and this challenge is exacerbated by the fact that athletes and admin don’t always mix really well. (Remember trying to get clubs COVID-compliant?)
Safe-Guard™ makes this a lot easier to manage and it is free.
How it Works
- Every Coach logs onto their Safe-Guard Profile and uploads their “Six” documents.
- Once every Coach has uploaded their “Six” the club is 50% compliant.
- The Club DSO logs onto their Club’s Profile and uploads the club’s “FOUR” documents.
- Once this is done for all coaches, the club is at 100% safeguarding compliant.
- The District DSO can login to the District’s Profile and check the compliance of their district which will essentially be the average compliance of all the clubs in their district. They would also be able to see what clubs have not met compliance and who was holding back the district compliance.
- The Provincial/Union DSO can, through their profile, see which of their districts are falling behind in compliance, and even which clubs are holding back which districts.
- The National DSO can see all from their dashboard, and this information, which can be easily accessed from their Safe-Guard™ profile, can be used to ensure safeguarding compliance.
Additionally, SASCOC have started using Safe-Guard™ to Manage Safeguarding Compliance for all Federations and have insisted that all federations use Safe-Guard to manage their compliance.