WHAT EVERY PARENT SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ATHLETE SAFETY
Because everyone associated with our club cares
about athlete safety and well-being!
Attached please find a copy of an important club policy, “Club Philosophy and Policies Governing Professional Coaching Conduct and the Conduct of all Athletes, Employees and Volunteers.” The purpose of this policy is to define in a very clear way inappropriate coach, sport leader and athlete participant conduct and the Club’s commitment to protect the safety and well-being of athletes. The policy defines important terms and concepts such as bully, hazing, initiation rituals, physical punishment, sexual harassment, verbal and emotional abuse, etc. Please let us know if you have any questions.
We also ask that you read “What Every Athlete Should Know About Personal Safety” and discuss this education piece with your child.
While it may be uncomfortable to read about athlete abuse, sexual harassment, and other forms of unacceptable behavior, it is very important for the Club and all parents to educate our children about these critical safety issues. We need you to emphasize to your children that any conduct that makes the child uncomfortable should be discussed with you or the Club’s Athlete Welfare Advocate (AWA). The AWA is our athlete safety officer.
Despite the fact that criminal background and previous employment reference checks are conducted on all of the Club’s employees and volunteers who work with children, these background checks often do not reveal previous misconduct, especially if a previous employer simply fired the employee without contacting the police or if the behavior fell short of criminal conduct but crossed the line of professionally appropriate conduct.
We must all be vigilant guardians of our children.
Abuse of an athlete can take many forms, ranging from failing to act to prevent harm when a dangerous situation is recognized in a sports environment to sexual violence such as when a coach rapes an athlete, with many subtle and not so subtle forms of mistreatment in between. As we learned from recent media coverage of coach pedophiles in respected university programs and private sports clubs, even the most trusted adults may not be what they appear to be. Sexual abuse is almost always by a person known to the athlete who takes advantage of a position of power, is older, or bigger, or intentionally and successfully manipulates an immature or naïve athlete into what appears to be a consensual situation.
How You Can Help
- . Emphasize the following points:Review “What Every Athlete Should Know About Personal Safety” with your child
Talk to your children regarding all inappropriate or abusive behaviors and what they should do if they observe or are subjected to such behaviors.
- In sport club settings, many parents almost blindingly allow the coach carte blanche in the handling of athletes. You must be the guardian of your children, holding coaches to the same standards as any teacher.Be a Vigilant Guardian.
- . Don’t respond by telling your child to be “tougher.” Find out the specifics of what occurred. Talk to the Club’s Athlete Welfare Advocate if necessary. Take any Reports of Mistreatment from your Child Seriously
- There are other indicators of abuse that parents and sport leaders need to be sensitive to such as: Keep An Eye Out for Abuse and Bullying Indicators.
This is not an exhaustive list of indicators and the presence of an indicator cannot be seen to be definitive proof that an athlete is being abused. But your response to such indicators should be further investigation of the possibility that abuse is occurring.
Understand What Our Club Does to Help Prevent Abuse
Please know that the Club is also doing all it can to ensure the safety of your child:
Understand Why Confidentiality so Important in the Case of an Abused Athlete?
A Place for Parents to Go For More Help or Information
Safe4Athletes. Go to Safe4Athletes.org or call Safe4Athletes at 1-855-SAFE4AA (855-723 3422) (toll free). Safe4Athletes is a not-for-profit organization that advocates for athlete welfare where every athlete is provided a safe and positive environment free of sexual abuse, bullying and harassment. Parents should feel free to contact Safe4Athletes for more information.
What Safe4Athletes does:
1. Advocates for and helps sports organizations adopt effective policies, procedures and educational programs that prevent coach, volunteer and peer misconduct whether it be sexual, bullying, harassment or other forms of inappropriate behaviors.
2. Assists sports organizations faced with situations involving sexual misconduct, bullying, harassment and other forms of inappropriate conduct on how to handle these situations appropriately and act quickly to restore safe environments for athletes.
3. Is a safe and confidential place where abused athletes, their parents, or others concerned about the impact of coach/volunteer/peer misconduct can call to:
4. Encourages and helps educate all parents and athletes to be more aware of what they can do to recognize inappropriate coach/volunteer/peer behavior and understand how traumatic the effects of such experiences can be for athletes.
5. Partners with state, regional and national sport governing associations and other national sport organizations to encourage the adoption of legislation mandating that their members adopt strong policies, procedures, and educational programs regarding this issue.