The We Care Campaign is an educational parent program designed to help individuals become more aware of the issue of child sexual abuse, and suggest ways one can turn that awareness into action.
Dear Parents of USA Gymnastics Athlete Members: Promoting a safe environment for athletes is a top priority for USA Gymnastics. As gymnasts ourselves, we learned first-hand the importance of being on a team and how amazing things can happen when teammates pull together for a common cause. All of us in the gymnastics family – parents, athletes, coaches, administrators, officials – need to work as team to maintain a fun and safe environment for our children to learn gymnastics, one that is free from inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct. USA Gymnastics is a leader within the U.S. Olympic movement in setting and following policies to promote a safe environment. As parents and gymnastics professionals, we are thrilled to announce USA Gymnastics’ newest initiative, the “We Care Campaign,” designed to help educate and provide resources to assist parents with those difficult, but important, conversations with their kids. Through “We Care,” we hope to help educate everyone involved in our sport by providing access to information, including strategies, tools and other materials, at USAGymClub.com. A parallel effort has been developed for coaches and clubs, the “Clubs Care Campaign.” These educational initiatives are just one part of the role USA Gymnastics is playing to promote a safe environment for its athletes. The organization will continue to evaluate, revamp and streamline its policies and procedures in this critical area. Each of us plays an important role in addressing this serious topic. We want gymnastics to be an inspiring activity for youngsters of all ages, whether they have Olympic dreams or not, and we want every club to be a safe and exciting environment for them to set a foundation for their future.
Peter Vidmar 1984 Olympic gold medalist Father of five Chairman, USA Gymnastics
Amanda Borden 1996 Olympic gold medalist Mother of two Owner, Gold Medal Gymnastics
Step Up & Speak Out
Provided by Darkness to Light
Parents play an important role in helping youth serving organizations keep kids safe. By asking a few simple questions, parents can feel confident they are selecting the correct organization to entrust with their child. Parents should be aware of the following policies: 1. All youth serving organizations should perform background checks on staff and volunteers. In addition, careful screening and selection of potential employees will include personal interviews as well as personal and professional reference checks. 2. Programs should have policies that clearly state the safety rules including minimizing one-on-one time between staff, volunteers and participants. The “Rule of Three” requiring at least two adults and one child or one adult and two children is an example of policy that limits one-on-one time. “Two Deep Leadership” requires at least two adults at all times is another good example. Contact between staff and participants outside organized program activities should be prohibited. 3. Staff and volunteers should be trained in child sexual abuse prevention training. 4. All policies should be made clear to staff, volunteers, and parents. If an organization does not have a policy or is unwilling to share their policy, look for another organization for your child. 5. Older youth should also be screened, carefully monitored and supervised when working with children. Programs should have guidelines for how interactions between children and teens are structured. 6. There should be well-documented procedures for reporting and addressing policy violations as well as for reporting suspected abuse.
Although it may be uncomfortable at first to have these conversations, organizations should be ready and willing to talk about their prevention measures. Do not accept excuses such as, “We know and trust our staff well,” or “We don’t have the time or money to do background checks.” In today’s environment, these answers are simply unacceptable. All youth-serving organizations must demonstrate their commitment to safety by taking an active role in decreasing the risk for inappropriate behavior and sexual abuse within their organization.
Questions to Ask When Selecting a Youth Serving Organization 1. How are your staff and volunteers selected? 2. Do you perform background checks as well as personal and professional reference checks? 3. Is your staff trained in abuse prevention and response? 4. What types of policies are in place to prevent child sexual abuse? 5. What is your policy for one-on-one time between adults and children? 6. How are older youth monitored and supervised when working with younger children? 7. What is your policy for reporting abuse? When a report is made, how are parents notified? 8. How do you handle policy violations?
What can I do?
1. Insist on policy. Organizations should share their child protection policy with parents. If they do not, ask for a copy. 2. Talk to your kids about their bodies, personal boundaries, inappropriate touching, and other grooming behaviors and what to do if someone violates those boundaries. Find out if there is someone your child does not feel comfortable around. For tips about talking to kids, visit www.D2L.org/talkingtips. 3. Be educated and vigilant. Thereâ€™s no need to be paranoid just know the facts, be educated in grooming behaviors and the situations where the potential for abuse exists.
We Care Partners ChildLuresPrevention.com
We Care – USA Gymnastics prioritizes athlete welfare
The Safe Sport Timeline below highlights USA Gymnastics' key actions and policy developments designed to promote a safe environment for our gymnastics community.
Board of Directors adopts Code of Ethics General principles guide conduct in situations with ethical implications.
Member Club Program Launched Baseline membership for clubs.
Permanently Ineligible Membership List Established Termination of professional membership results in being placed on the publicly available Permanently Ineligible for Membership list. This lifetime ban restricts these individuals from being involved or associated with USA Gymnastics sanctioned events. www.usagym.org/ineligible Safety/Risk Management Course Mandated Required for professional members (coaches, officials), course must be retaken every four years. Athlete Wellness Program Introduced Educational program is designed to promote the welfare of the sport's participants; also launched the National Sports Science and Healthcare Referral Network.
Event Sanctioning Policy Expanded USA Gymnastics expands its sanction policy so that only a Member Club or Registered Business of USA Gymnastics can host a sanctioned event.
Safe Sport training offered at Regional and National Congresses Sexual misconduct awareness sessions are offered annually at National and Regional Congresses. Criminal Background Screening Required Mandated for professional members every two years, NCSI, the agency used by USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee, screens for criminal background, sex offender registry and identity verification.
Participant Welfare Policy Created The Policy outlines the scope of USA Gymnastics’ commitment to promoting a safe environment, as well as the requirements and expectations of its members, including definitions of physical and sexual abuse; reporting procedures for suspected abuse; misconduct/grievance procedures; member obligations and recommendations; standards of behavior; and education and communication about the policy. www.usagym/org/welfare Code of Ethics Updated Additions address sexual misconduct and consequences of associating with individuals on the Permanently Ineligible List.
Athlete Registration Streamlined Only Member Clubs or Registered Businesses may apply for USA Gymnastics membership for an athlete and/or register a team of athletes into sanctioned events. An athlete who is not affiliated with a Member Club or Registered Business must apply directly to USA Gymnastics for membership, and his/her status will be “unaffiliated athlete.” Safe Sport Partners Identified Educational partners provide content for educational initiatives that range from building awareness to empowering action. They include the U.S. Olympic Committee, Child Lures Prevention, Darkness to Light and Stop It Now! Clubs Care/We Care Campaigns Launched Educational initiatives target clubs and parents to raise awareness about child sexual abuse. www.usagym.org/ClubsCare www.usagym.org/WeCare www.USAGymClub.com
Bylaws Amended Expedited process to remove membership for individuals convicted of certain categories of crimes (sexual, against minors) is passed.
Member Club/Registered Business Requirements Established Member Clubs/Registered Businesses must have a policy consistent with USA Gymnastics’ Participant Welfare Policy; certify that no persons permanently ineligible for USA Gymnastics membership are or will be associated with the organization or its activities in any way; and employ at least one staff member who holds a current professional membership.
Safety/Risk Mangement Course Updated Course and Handbook include an expanded chapter on sexual misconduct prevention. Child Sexual Misconduct Education Offered Made available within USA Gymnastics University, “Stewards of Children” is a child sexual abuse prevention training created by Darkness to Light. Medical Task Force Established Comprised of leading gymnastics-knowledgeable medical professionals, the task force will review best practices related to athlete medical care and resources.