Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program
Our sports organization has adopted the following policies and this document will also serve as our adult staff educational training program:
Criminal Background Checks
Criminal background checks should be run with a third-party vendor on all paid and volunteer staff with access to youth. At a minimum, the criminal background check should pull records from all 50 states to include the National Criminal Database and the National Sex Offender registry. Any background check that indicates that a potential staff member is unfit to work with youth should result in disqualification of such staff member. Prior to running background checks, the following steps* should be taken:
- All prospective staff should complete a written application to include a question about whether the applicant has ever had any prior criminal convictions or is pending any current investigations and a consent provision to run a background check.
- Disqualification criteria should be adopted and published.
- The confidentiality of records should be protected and access should be limited to those on a “need to know” basis.
- Before an adverse action is taken against an applicant, our organization should comply with all federal and state laws governing background checks such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act and assistance should be requested from our background check vendor as regards required applicant notifications.
Identifying Signs Of Child Abuse
With physical abuse, there may be signs of bruises, welts, or broken bones. With sexual abuse, there may be signs of genital soreness, difficulty sitting or walking, stomach aches, pain/itching when urinating or defecating, and pain/itching in genital area. But most often the effects of sexual abuse are less obvious.
Please note that no indicators or symptoms are absolute. Many of these could be indicators of problems other than child abuse. However, if some of these things are going on, consider them to be a red flag. One difficulty is that some signs are ambiguous. Children may respond in different ways and some may show no sign at all. Some indicators include:
- Disclosure by child. Most children won’t just come out and say they have been abused, but instead, may hint at it.
- Unexplained/unlikely explanation of injuries.
- Sudden shifts in behavior or attitudes when an outgoing child suddenly builds a protected, closed wall or a generally happy child becomes aggressive and angry or a trusting child becomes fearful.
- Extreme fear of a sports organization volunteer.
- Extreme low self-esteem, self worth.
- A child’s attachment to a coach/staff to the point of isolation from others.
- A child’s desire to drop out without a clear explanation, or without one that makes sense.
- A child that misses a lot of practices or games with suspicious explanations or excuses.
Grooming is the process by which sexual predators pave the way for sexual abuse by gradually gaining the trust of and conditioning of minors, parents, and administrators. The steps in the grooming process are as follows:
- Identify a vulnerable child whose needs are not being met such as lack of attention by parents, lack of spending money, etc.
- Fill the missing needs of the child by providing attention, transportation, help with homework, special favors, confiding in secrets, spending money, gifts, etc. to create a “special bond”.
- Gain trust of family by spending disproportionate amount of time with them.
- Isolate the victim to create one on one opportunities.
- Gradually use boundary invasions that start off with inappropriate electronic communications and photo sharing, tickling, wrestling, massages, alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc. that lead to nudity and sexual activity.
- Maintain control and silence with threats of fear and shame.
Policies To Protect Against Misconduct
- All forms of abuse including sexual, physical, emotional, harassment, bullying, and hazing are prohibited.
- Prohibited sexual abuse physical acts include genital contact whether or not either party is clothed; fondling of a participant’s breast or buttocks; sexual penetration; sexual assault, exchange of a reward in sport for sexual favors; lingering or repeated embrace that goes beyond acceptable physical touch; tickling, wrestling, or massage; and continued physical contact that makes a participant uncomfortable.
- Prohibited sexual abuse verbal acts include making sexually oriented comments, jokes and innuendo; staff member discussing his or her sex life with participant; asking about a participant’s sex life; requesting or sending a nude or partial dress photo; exposing participants to pornographic material; voyeurism; and sexting with a participant.
- Any type of grooming behavior is prohibited.
- Prohibited forms of physical abuse include punching, beating, biting, striking, choking, slapping, or intentionally hitting a participant with objects or sports equipment; providing alcohol to a participant under legal drinking age; providing illegal drugs or non prescribed medications to any participant; encouraging or permitting a participant to return to play after injury or sickness prematurely without clearance of a medical professional; prescribing dieting or other weight control methods for humiliation purposes; isolating a participant in a confined space; forcing participant to assume a painful stance or position for no athletic purpose; withholding, or denying adequate hydration, nutrition medical attention, or sleep.
- Prohibited emotional abuse includes a pattern of verbally attacking a participant personally such as calling them worthless, fat or disgusting; physically aggressive behaviors such as throwing or hitting objects; and ignoring a participant for extended periods of time or excluding them from practice.
- Bullying includes an intentional, persistent, or repeated pattern of committing or willfully tolerating (e.g., staff not preventing) physical, nonphysical, or cyber bullying behaviors that are intended to cause fear, humiliation, physical harm in an attempt to socially exclude, diminish, or isolate another person emotionally, physically, or sexually. It is often not the staff, but instead, other participants who are the perpetrators of bullying. However, it is a violation if the staff member knows or should have known of the bullying behavior but takes no action to intervene on behalf of the targeted participants.
- Prohibited hazing includes any contact which is intimidating, humiliating, offensive or physically harmful. Hazing typically is an activity that serves as a condition for joining a team of being socially accepted by team members.
- Two deep leadership is required where two adults (e.g., any combination of staff or parents) should be present at all times so that a minor participant can’t be isolated with a single unrelated adult, except in the case of an emergency.
- In special situations involving an adult such as car travel, overnight travel, locker rooms/changing areas, individual coach meetings, and individual training sessions, minors should always have another child buddy with them or a second adult within an observable and interruptible distance.
- All electronic communications including email, texting, instant message, etc. between the staff member and a minor participant should be limited strictly to the legitimate activities of the organization. A parent/guardian of minor or another staff member should be copied on all such communications.
- Staff and minor participants should not connect on social media outside of the organization’s official social media accounts.
- Any overnight travel exposure should prohibit adults spending the night in the same room as an unrelated minor participant; require grouping of participants of the same sex and age group in rooms; and provide adequate oversight with a same-sex chaperone for each group.
- Take off/pick up of athletes by staff should be strongly discouraged because of the difficulty in limiting one-on-one contact.
Reporting Suspicions of Child Sexual or Physical Abuse and Other Forms of Abuse
Federal or state law may require any adult staff member who has a suspicion of child sexual or physical abuse to independently report such suspicion directly to law enforcement within 24 hours. Failure to report may be a punishable offense.
In addition, the adult staff member should report the suspicion within 24 hours to the appropriate organization official and the official should also report to law enforcement within 24 hours if there is suspicion that child sexual or physical abuse has been committed.
The organization should allow law enforcement to handle the investigation and the suspected staff member should be immediately suspended or reassigned to alternative duties that don’t involve access to youth pending the outcome of the investigation. Organization officials should not comment on the allegation or police investigation until it has been concluded.
Staff members should also report prohibited misconduct other than child sexual and physical abuse to the appropriate organization official and the organization can investigate and decide what types of sanctions, if any, are appropriate.
The organization is prohibited from retaliating in any way against a staff member who makes a good faith report of a suspicion of any form of misconduct.
Child Abuse Training For Minors
The Safe Sport Act requires sports organizations to provide minor training on preventing and reporting of child abuse. Our organization should distribute the following documents: Minor Training (Ages 4-12) and/or Minor Training (Ages 13-17) or a similar document from another source to each parent with a strong recommendation that each parent should review this document with their minor child.
For More Detailed Information
This short form program is a summary of a more detailed risk management program entitled Safe Sport Child Abuse and Other Misconduct Risk Management Plan for Non-NGB Organizations. Please refer to this program if you need more details on the following issues: Safe Sport Act Requirements; abuse and misconduct definitions; social media; email; text, and instant messaging; locker rooms and changing areas; travel; reporting misconduct; what to do after reporting to law enforcement; responding to misconduct and policy violations; whistleblower protection; dealing with the media; screening volunteers; and administration of criminal background checks.
Communication Of Information
The information in this risk management program should be communicated by pre-season staff meeting and/or by distribution of this document to all paid and volunteer staff with evidence thereof retained for at least 15 years. Our sports organization has adopted this program and incorporated it into our written policies and procedures.
Name of authorized league official: ___________________________________________________________
Signature: ____________________________________________________ Date: ___________________
DISCLAIMER: THIS SAMPLE RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN IS MEANT TO PROVIDE GENERAL AWARENESS AND EDUCATION ON THE TOPIC OF MISCONDUCT IN SPORT AND SUGGESTED POLICIES COMPILED FROM VARIOUS RESOURCES AND IN NO WAY IS MEANT TO BE ALL-ENCOMPASSING. THIS SAMPLE PLAN MAY CONTAIN INCORRECT INFORMATION AND MAY OMIT CRITICAL INFORMATION. SPORTS ORGANIZATIONS SHOULD INDEPENDENTLY RESEARCH VARIOUS AUTHORITY SOURCES SUCH AS U.S. CENTER FOR SAFESPORT BEFORE CUSTOMIZING THEIR OWN PLAN. NO SPECIFIC ADVICE IS BEING PROVIDED FOR ANY ORGANIZATION. NO LEGAL ADVICE IS PROVIDED. THE LAW PERTAINING TO CHILD ABUSE AND OTHER MISCONDUCT VARY FROM STATE TO STATE. ALWAYS CONTACT A LOCAL ATTORNEY FOR LEGAL ADVICE IN YOUR STATE. SADLER & COMPANY, INC. DBA SADLER SPORTS & RECREATION INSURANCE DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY RESULTING FROM THE PUBLICATION OF THIS SAMPLE AWARENESS AND EDUCATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN. IN EXCHANGE FOR RECEIPT OF THIS INFORMATION, RECIPIENT AGREES TO HOLD HARMLESS AND INDEMNIFY SADLER & COMPANY, INC. DBA SADLER SPORTS & RECREATION INSURANCE AND RESPECTIVE DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, AND EMPLOYEES FOR ANY CLAIMS OF BODILY INJURY, PROPERTY DAMAGE, OR OTHER DAMAGES, INCLUDING REASONABLE ATTORNEY’S FEES, TO THEMSELVES OR THIRD PARTIES.