Many have likely seen, heard or been made aware of the recent sentencing of former sports medicine doctor, Larry Nassar.
As a member of our sport community, you might be asking yourself how this could have happened and what we can do to prevent this from ever happening again.
We – coaches, athletes, parents, officials, volunteers, team leaders, and sport leaders – can commit to prevention and we can commit to speaking up. We can commit to Safe Sport.
Safe Sport is something we do, every day on every deck. The key to prevention is to create an environment where all members know the rules, are comfortable talking about them, and are empowered to recognize and report red flag behavior, boundary violations, and misconduct.
How do you create a Safe Sport environment? What does it mean to have a culture of safety?
How do you ‘do’ Safe Sport?
Set. Direct. Protect.
Set. Be intentional. Learn how to make your team a Safe Sport team.
· Get started. Use the Safe Sport Team Checklist to know what you already have covered and what else you could be doing to keep kids safe.
· Know who you’re working with! Conduct thorough screening of employees and volunteers. USA Swimming member clubs can use the free online member resource SwimStaffSelect to create job descriptions, interview questions, reference checks, and more.
· Learn the risks and address them with your team’s rules. Familiarize yourself with the SafeSport Code, the USA Swimming Code of Conduct and adopt the Safe Sport Best Practices as team rules. Make your team’s policies and response procedures easily available to all team members on your website.
Direct. Use enthusiastic and frequent communication to teach your team’s members about Safe Sport. Talk about your team’s values and the behaviors that support and reinforce them.
· Name a Safe Sport Club Coordinator for your team to oversee the Safe Sport effort, communicate with coaches, parents, and athletes, and be connected to the LSC, Zone, and national Safe Sport volunteers for support and resources.
· Make talking about Safe Sport with athletes a regular conversation. Use monthly Safe Sport Mondays with 11&Over athletes to facilitate discussion around specific situations and how to report concerns. Distribute the Safe Sport Activity Book to your 10&Unders to introduce Safe Sport basics and encourage positive team culture.
Protect. You have spent time and energy to create a culture of safety – Protect it! When something comes up, address it and correct it right away.
· Recognize. Red flag behaviors and boundary violations are small chips in your team’s culture that can become big problems if left to fester. Call out and correct these behaviors immediately and encourage all team members to do the same.
· Respond. When a club policy violation comes to your attention, take appropriate action. Be quick to acknowledge the report and take immediate steps to restore safety. Then, diligently collect all the information necessary to determine a thoughtful, informed course of action consistent with your team’s policies.
· Report. If you become aware of misconduct or abuse, you are required to report it. Know what to report where. Child abuse or neglect, including child sexual abuse, should be reported immediately to local law enforcement. Violations of the SafeSport Code must be reported to the US Center for Safe Sport. Violations of the USA Swimming Code of Conduct can be reported here.