USA Gymnastics is a leader within the U.S. Olympic movement in setting and following policies to promote a fun and safe environment for children to learn gymnastics, one that is free from inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct. All of us in the gymnastics family – parents, athletes, coaches, administrators, officials – have a role to play in addressing this serious topic.
? Are you Aware ?
Are you Aware
• 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before turning 18. • More than 90% of abusers are people that children know, love or trust. • Children of every gender, age, race, ethnicity, background, socio-economic status and family structure are at risk. • Those that abuse children look and act just like everyone else. • Many prepetrators “groom” victims and their families.
USA Gymnastics offers the We Care Campaign to parents and concerned adults. Through the campaign, USA Gymnastics is providing information to help parents become more aware of the societal issue of child sexual abuse. We Care also offers resources so parents can have those difficult but important conversations with their children.
For more information, tools, strategies and resources, visit USAGymClub.com
Step Up & Speak Out
Provided by Darkness to Light
Selecting an Activity for your Child
Parents play an important role in keeping their kids safe when they participate in activities sponsored by youth-serving organizations. When deciding whether to enroll your child in a particular activity, learn about that organization’s safe environment policies, prevention strategies and response preparedness. 1. All youth-serving organizations should perform background checks on potential staff and volunteers. Careful screening and selection will also include personal interviews, as well as personal and professional reference checks. 2. Programs should have policies in place that promote a safe environment. The policies should be available and made clear to parents, staff and volunteers. If an organization does not have a policy or is unwilling to share its policy, that should serve as a “red flag.” 3. Safe-environment policies should set standards of conduct for staff and volunteers that are designed to minimize the opportunities for abuse to occur. For example, prohibiting one-on-one time, contact through electronic communication and social media, and contact between staff and participants outside of organized program activities. 4. Organizations that have expectations or requirements of parents in areas such as transportation or presence during practices (for example, requiring parents to observe private lessons) should clearly communicate them at the time of enrollment. 5. Staff and volunteers should be trained in child sexual abuse prevention and response. 6. Programs should have guidelines for how interactions between children and teens are structured. Older youth should be carefully screened, monitored, and supervised. 7. There should be well-documented procedures for reporting and addressing policy violations and 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?
We Care Partners
What can I do? 1. TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN. Talk about their bodies, inappropriate touching, personal boundaries, and what to do if someone violates those boundaries. 2. CHOOSE AN ACTIVITY CAREFULLY. Before enrolling, carefully screen the organization that sponsors an activity in which your child is interested. 3. INSIST ON POLICY. If not provided, ask for a copy of the child protection policy. Review it to determine whether sufficient strategies are in place to provide a safe environment for your child. 4. OBSERVE. Monitor your child’s participation. Stay alert for situations where the potential for abuse exists or where the organization is not following its policy.
5. REPORT. If you observe a policy violation, your child reports feeling uncomfortable, or a situation just doesn’t seem “right,” report the situation to the organization’s leadership.
Reporting Child Sexual Abuse – provided by Stop it Now!
In all U.S. states, anyone concerned for the safety of a child can voluntarily file a report of suspected sexual abuse. You don’t have to be in a professional relationship with a family to contact child protection services or the police. Remarkably, some very courageous children and teens have contacted the authorities directly regarding their own or another child’s abuse. If you suspect a child is being sexually abused, getting the proper help and support is vital. Typically, the situations that require reporting are: • A child and/or adult shows numerous and consistent warning signs of abuse or being at risk to abuse • A child has stated that he/she is being sexually abused by an adult or another child • An adult or youth states that he or she has sexually harmed a child • An individual has become aware of child pornography online or is aware of someone who is viewing child pornography
If an adult who is responsible for caring for a child is suspected of sexually abusing a child, then local child protection services should be contacted. If an adult who is not in a caregiving position is suspected of sexual abuse, the local police should be notified. Concerns about child pornography can be reported to either the local police or cyber-crime tiplines.
In most situations you do not need to wait for proof of child abuse to file a report with the authorities. However, it is always best when there is some worrisome behavior or conversation that you can identify or describe when making the report. Remember to include all relevant information that you think might assist them.
The Helpline (888.PREVENT) at Stop It Now! can help you discuss a concerning situation and determine whether a report should be made.
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.
1990 1994 1996 1998
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
Board of Directors adopts Code of Ethics General principles guide conduct in situations with ethical implications. Member Club Program Launched Baseline membership for clubs. Safety/Risk Management Course Mandated Required for professional members (coaches, officials); course must be taken every four years.
Event Sanctioning Policy Expanded USA Gymnastics expands its sanction policy so that only a Member Club 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.
Athlete Registration Streamlined Only Member Clubs may apply for USA Gymnastics membership for an athlete and/or register a team of athletes into sanctioned events. 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!
Athlete Wellness Program Introduced Educational program designed to promote the welfare of the sport's participants; also launched the National Sports Science and Healthcare Referral Network.
Member Club Requirements Established Member Clubs 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.
Clubs Care/We Care Campaigns Launched Educational initiatives target clubs and parents to raise awareness about child sexual abuse. www.usagym.org/ClubsCare www.usagymclub.com
Safety/Risk Management Course Updated Course and Handbook include an expanded chapter on sexual misconduct prevention.
Bylaws Amended Expedited process to remove membership for individuals convicted of certain categories of crimes (sexual, against minors) is passed.
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.
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
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.
Code of Ethics Updated Additions address sexual misconduct and consequences of associating with individuals on the Permanently Ineligible List.
Prohibited Conduct Defined Introduced policy on prohibited conduct to national team coaches/staff and USA Gymnastics staff. Athlete Participation Policies Strengthened Athlete members must be affiliated with a USA Gymnastics member club to participate in USA Gymnastics sanctioned events.