Archive for the ‘Abuse/Molestation’ Category

Cheerleader Forced into Painful Splits Example of Physical Abuse

Recognizing the signs and putting a plan in place

Regular readers of my blog and certainly all my clients know that I take a strong stand against child abuse. Any form of child abuse/molestation is reprehensible and goes against the spirit of healthy sports participation. To help combat the problem, we offer free abuse/molestation risk management programs and training.

Sexual abuse in youth sports has dominated the headlines in recent years. But it’s important to remember that abuse can take many forms.

We recently became aware of an investigation into astonishing allegations of abuse by two Denver cheerleading coaches. A video of a first-year cheerleader being forced into the splits despite her pleas to stop is currently circulating in the media. Several other girls on the East High School squad allegedly suffered injuries from the same treatment. Particularly appalling are reports of the girls’ teammates being told to hold their arms to brace them in the splits position.

These alleged incidents occurred at the school’s cheer camp in June. Parents of the girl in the video sent the video to East High’s athletic director that month. However no action was taken. Eventually, an anonymous tipster contacted Denver police. The coaches, two school administrators and a district deputy counsel are on administrative leave during the investigation.

What is abuse?

It’ll be difficult to refute what’s on the video. There’s no doubt that forcing such stretches constitutes abuse. I contacted Tammy Gagne, American Youth Football’s National Cheer Commissioner. Here’s what she had to say:

“Proper stretching starts with a warm-up that includes some type of movement that will increase body temperature to improve muscle elasticity. Once the body temperature is raised, athletes do a number or stretches where they are in control of their own bodies, holding a stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, never bouncing or over stretching.

There are a number of stretches where athletes are paired with another athlete and they help each other stretch, these stretches are never done to a level where there is pain, and they are done slowly to ensure the athlete is comfortable with the stretch. Communication is key between the two athletes stretching each other.”

Of course, child Abuse presents in different ways. Ridicule and put downs are verbal abuse  Any touching that hurts is physical abuse, including any touching or excessive exercise used as punishment. Emotional abuse often consists of isolation, humiliation, intimidation, and threats to perform unreasonable tasks. Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity without consent and by use of force or verbal threat.

Combatting physical abuse

It’s important to be aware of red flags that may signal physical abuse. Other than obvious examples of a coach hitting, throwing equipment or shaking a player, be aware of these coaching methods:

  • Behaviors that seem violent versus disciplinary
  • Illegal moves (often associated with injuries) are encouraged
  • Training practices that become abusive
  • Fighting that is encouraged or ignored
  • Allowing athlete(s) to become physically or verbally abusive
  • Teaching improper techniques or encouraging conduct that violates safety rules
  • Behaviors resulting in injuries to athlete(s)

Gagne is quite succinct in her perspective on abuse: “A coach’s first responsibility is to keep the athlete safe.”

We believe that too. Consequently, we provide information on preventing child abuse in youth sports and a free customizable Abuse Risk Management Program on our risk management page. If you have questions or concerns, please call us at (800) 622-7370.


UPDATE:

A Denver Police Department investigation  resulted in a decision not to press criminal charges in the story referred to above. Personnel fallout from the scandal:

  • Coach Ozell Williams was fired two after the news story aired.
  • Principal Andy Mendelsberg retired in the wake of the report citing multiple failures to act following complaints made by the parents of multiple cheerleaders.
  • Assistant Principal Lisa Porter serving as athletic director, resigned.
  • Five assistant principals were disciplined, though no details are known. All five saw portions of the video in question.
  • Denver Public School Attorney Michael Hickman was reinstated disciplined for failing to follow up on the limited information Mendelsberg provided.
  • Mariah Cladis, a volunteer assistant cheer coach, was cleared of wrongdoing.

This shouldn’t have happened

Journalists uncovered the fact that Williams was terminated in 2016 from his position as a cheerleading consultant at Boulder High School upon being observed by another coach forcing splits on cheerleaders as did at East High.

Williams did not disclose that fact in his application for the job at East High. He listed in the “employment history” section of his application only two previous jobs: that of “professional dunker” at Denver Nuggets games and the business he owns,  Mile High Tumblers.

The investigation revealed that Porter never contacted anyone at Boulder High to check Williams’ references, which were listed on his resume.


Sources:

Deterring Child Predators in Youth Sports

Protecting kids is a group effort

Do parents who send their children to ball practice ever think that they might be handing them over to a sexual predator?  That’s probably the last thing that crosses their mind.  They assume that they can trust the coaches, volunteers and league administrators who come in contact with their children..

The predatSad soccer playeror’s thought process

League administrators are responsible to do all in their power to protect these children.  It is unfortunate that not everyone is aware of the dangers that sexual predators pose or are how this battle to protect our children can be fought.  The September 1999, Sports Illustrated article “Every Parent’s Nightmare”  is still relevant.  It’s an in-depth, in-your-face report about abuse in youth sports. The article takes readers inside the heads of  the average sexual predator. It delves deep into the thought process of predators who found their victims on ballfields. Those highlighted in the story made a combined effort to let readers know HOW they got to the children and signs for which parents and other adults need to be on the lookout.

Although there is no foolproof method to prevent sexual abuse and molestation, we can work together as a team to put safeguards in place.  In collaboration with attorneys, insurance underwriters and national risk managers, we have developed information to provide our youth sports league administrators, coaches and volunteers with the necessary tools for putting a risk management program in place.  The risk management section of our website provides a Child Abuse and Molestation Protection Program, Child Abuse and Molestation Handout for Parents, and specific information on conducting criminal background checks.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like any further information.

The Rate of Abuse and Molestation in Youth Sports

How prevalent is it?

The media makes sure we know when allegations and indictments of sexual abuse take place in our communities, particularly when children are the victims. Schools, religious and recreational youth organizations are ripe for the picking by such predators.

But a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that instances of all types of abuse within youth organizations are actually quite rare. The researchers surveyed more than 13,000 children, including infants and children to age 17. The results show that less than 1 percent reported any type of abuse. And of that percentage, only 6.4 percent reported some type of sexual abuse.

The bad news

As encouraging as that is, it still means the up to 100,000 children may be subjected to sexual abuse while participating in youth-oriented activities.

The study results point out another point for concern. Of the children surveyed who reported abuse, 64 percent said the abuse was emotional or verbal, specifically saying they had felt scared or bad because an adult “called you names, said mean things to you, or said they didn’t want you.” That puts estimates at 1 million children being subjected to abuse of a non-physical nature, which is 10 times the number of those being sexually abused.

Defining abuse

It’s important to note that the statistics of abuse are never exact, in part due to underreporting of incidents, but also because of the different definitions of the word abuse. Government agencies use a legal definition, while JAMA Pediatrics’ criteria is whether the child feels he or she has been abused. In fact, the final conclusion of the study is that abuse in youth organizations is relatively rare and is dwarfed by abuse perpetrated by family members and other adults.

Preventing and combating abuse

Nonetheless, parents need to be aware of their child’s youth organization’s policies and procedures regarding screening and training of staff and volunteers. And parents should work together to make sure at least one parent is at every event, practice and game who is tasked with monitoring the behavior of staff and volunteers.

At Sadler Sports Insurance, we know that abuse and molestation incidents, while rare, result in very expensive claims and demand serious risk management attention. Our risk management page has a section with resources devoted to abuse and molestation prevention. Our resources range from a simple one-page abuse/molestation risk management program to a comprehensive seven page programs that covers all aspects from A to Z. We also have sex abuse and molestation training videos for your administrators and staff.


Source: Janet Rosenweig. “What is the rate of child abuse in schools, rec groups?” philly.com. 01 Feb. 2016.

Penn State settlements in sex abuse lawsuits reach $93M

Settlements average $2.9 million per claim.

Six of Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse accusers have settled with Penn State, bringing the total paid out thus far to $93 million. It is possible there are still outstanding claims that will be paid out in the future. A university audit statement shows the school has paid or agreed to pay 32 claims, according to a Nov. 25 WJAC-TV report.

Sandusky, serving a 30 to 60 year prison sentence, is appealing his conviction for 45 counts of sexual abuse that was at the center of a 2012 scandal. There are appeals rulings pending against three former administrators at the university who are seeking to have charges of covering up abuse complaints dropped.The court recently restored Sandusky’s pension from Penn State.

Last month, a case brought by Victim 6 against Penn State and Sandusky’s charity The Second Mile was dismissed after a confidential settlement was reached. In October 2013, the university settled with 26 people for $59.7 million and last April, the university’s board of trustees authorized settlement of additional Sandusky-related suits.

While your sports organization will likely never be embroiled in a lawsuit of this magnitude, sex abuse and molestation are very real risks within youth sports. We offer free risk management material to help prevent sex abuse. Many of our General Liability programs include coverage for sex abuse & molestation. To get a quote, visit www.sadlersports.com and click on “get quote”.


Source: “Penn State’s Sandusky Settlement Total Nearly $94M,” insurancejournal.com. 30 Nov. 2015.

Coach Abuse in Youth Sports

It’s much broader than just sex abuse/molestation

Sex abuse and molestation by coaches tends to get the most attention in the media and cause a lot of outrage, but there are many other forms of coach abuse. Sports administrators and parents can protect youth by being aware of physical,, emotional, and/or verbal abuse, neglect, bullying, harassment, and hazing or initiation rituals. Such behaviors have resulted in many lawsuits against coaches and administrators.

A quality risk management plan that deal with sex abuse and molestation will also incorporate these other types of abuse. We offer many articles on abuse in youth sports, which we encourage you to read. Click on the link below for an excellent article that provides a full definition and examples of each of these types of abuse.

Source: “What Every Parent Should Know About Athlete Abuse: What Parents Can Do To Help Prevent Abuse,” Safe4Athletes.org.

Sexual Abuse/Molestation Insurance for Sports Organizations

The risks organizations face and the preconditions for coverage

Child Abuse in Youth SportsSexual abuse and molestation is, unfortunately, a major topic of conversation within youth sports insurance in the past decade.  The sports insurance carriers that write General Liability have been decimated with a number of large settlements and adverse jury verdicts.

As a result, most carriers are not willing to extend coverage for abuse/molestation unless risk management controls are in place.  In other cases, the coverage is only available by tapping into custom programs for larger governing and sanctioning bodies that have significant negotiating power.

Coverage for abuse/molestation is important because all directors and officers will be sued along with the alleged abuser.  The directors and officers will be sued for failure to screen out staff with criminal backgrounds, failure to respond to an allegation, and failure to implement policies and procedures such as the use of a “buddy system” and prohibition of overnight sleepovers.

As a precondition of coverage, many insurance carriers will require mandatory background checks on all staff with access to youth, as well as the adoption of a risk management awareness program.

We have more detailed information on the various types of background checks and the strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as a free and simplified Abuse/Molestation Protection Program on our risk management page.

Hotel Safety: Teams Traveling Overnight (Infographic)

Protecting athletes and staff from sex abuse/molestation incidents

 All parents have the expectation that youth sports organizations provide a safe and fun environment for the athletes. Any organization that supervises kids has a clear mandate to incorporate policies to prevent injuries of any kind. Child abuse and molestation can take place anywhere, and any program where adults supervise children is fertile ground for predators.

Most child predators are “groomers” as opposed to “grabbers” and it’s their modus operandi to earn the  trust of the child and parents prior to any abuse taking place. They create an emotional bond with the child, which works to prevent the child from reporting incidents. Youth sports programs are prime targets for perpetrators of these crimes.

Extra precautions need taken when youth sports teams travel out of town overnight for tournaments and camps. Below are basic tips to help protect young athletes from adults who intend to do them harm, and minimize the risk of coaches and chaperones being accused of improper or criminal behavior toward the children.

Hotel safety

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Please visit our Risk Management page for more sports tips and safety information.

Protecting your team and league from liability claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all teams and leagues? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin your organization. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Getting the right insurance coverage does not have to be complicated if you work with an agency like SADLER. The insurance experts at SADLER understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your sports or recreation organization.

To learn more about liability prevention or get a customized insurance quote, you can apply online right now or call us at 1-800-622-7370. There are no obligations. Most quotes are sent in just a few hours. Since there no application fees and we offer the most competitive rates in the industry, what do you have to lose?

The Cost of a Sex Abuse/Molestation Incident

The reason behind carrier demands for risk management controls

Youth sports organizations should consider carrying a sufficient sex abuse molestation limit to cover these types of claims, which can evidently reach $1.9 million per claimant and higher – as in the Sandusky case.

Penn State settled with its first claimant for an undisclosed amount but has set aside $60 million to bjerry_sanduskye dispersed among 31 claimants for an average settlement of $1.9 million per claimant. Not including this amount set aside for settlements, Penn State has already spent $50 million on attorney fees, public relations, and other mitigation expenses.

No wonder the insurance carriers that insure youth sports organizations for sex abuse/molestation demand that risk management controls be put in place prior to offering coverage. Not only can the damages per claimant be very high, butdozens of claimants can be victimized by a single predator.

The controls required typically involve the running of criminal background checks on all staff with access to youth, written policies and procedures to make an incident less likely to occur, and having a written incident response plan including a requirement to notify law enforcement.

Sadler Sports and Recreation Insurance provides its clients with a full array of free sex abuse/molestation risk management tools, including training videos and word document templates of written programs that can be adopted by a program. We offer versions ranging from one page to seven pages but all include the essential risk management controls.

Source: First Penn State Abuse Claim Settled, Lawyer Says; August 17, 2013. Associated Press

Set Up a Sex Abuse/Molestation Protection Program (Infographic)

Create a Hostile Environment

Whenever a sexual abuse/molestation (SAM) incident occurs, a civil lawsuit will likely be filed not only against the alleged perpetrator, but the organization, officers, board and others for failure to adequately screen staff, failure to implement policies and procedures to prevent an incident, and failure to appropriately respond to an allegation. Most insurance carriers that write SAM coverage on sports organizations won’t offer the coverage unless the organization has implemented certain controls that impact these areas.

Most sports and recreation organizations rely exclusively on running criminal background checks on all staff with access to youth. While this is required by case law and is a minimum level of due diligence, the effectiveness of solely relying on criminal background checks is questionable. This is because studies indicate that only about 5% of all predators have a criminal background that could even be discoverable upon running a background check. Therefore, the question becomes what is your sports organization doing to protect against the other 95%?

What it should be doing is educating administrators and staff to create a hostile environment for predators, implementing simple policies and procedures, and implementing an allegation response plan that requires notification of law enforcement.

 

SAM

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Many sports organizations get into SAM risk management by just shooting from the hip and running background checks without putting much thought into the entire process and what can go wrong along the way. Below are potential risks organizations expose themselves to when no proper SAM risk management program is in place:

  • Slander, libel, and invasion of privacy lawsuits against the organization if background check results are not kept confidential.
  • Illegal questions on staff application form and consent to run background check form.
  • Unequal treatment of different candidates and resulting litigation due to lack of predetermined, written disqualification criteria.
  • Failure to properly understand the nature of a conviction on a criminal background check and misclassification of the offense.
  • Failure to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other similar laws.
  • Failure to have written policies and procedures in place to make an incident less likely to occur.
  • Failure to have allegation response procedures in place, including a requirement to notify law enforcement.

Sex Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program

We recommend that a sports organization implement our written Sex Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program which provides important administrator and staff education on the topic and protects against the above mentioned pitfalls. This program is available as a Microsoft Word document format (7 pages) entitled Sample Abuse/Molestation Plan that can be easily customized for a specific sports organization.  Current Sadler clients should access the latest and most up-to-date version of this document under the password protected section after entering the password  provided with their proof of coverage email upon binding of coverage. On the other hand, sports organizations that are not current Sadler clients should access this document under the unrestricted access section of the webpage available to general public.

However, we realize that some sports organizations may not want to adopt and implement our recommended SAM risk management program even though it is incredibly simple and we have already done just about all the work on their behalf. For these organizations, we offer a 1-page SAM risk management program that provides a basic educational program for administrators and staff. It includes written policies and procedures to make an incident less likely to occur and provides instructions on how to appropriately respond to an allegation. This 1-page SAM program can be found in our risk management library  under the document entitled Child Abuse/Molestation Protection Program – Administrators (short form).

Educational videos

In addition, we offer the following free educational training videos to our clients, which can be found under the password protected section of our risk management page:

  • How To Implement An Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program – Administrators (14 minutes)
  • Abuse/Molestation Awareness Training – Administrators and Staff (28 minutes)

Protecting your league from injury claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all teams and leagues? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin your organization. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Purchasing the ight insurance coverage does not have to be complicated. The SADLER insurance experts understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your organization. Learn more about liability prevention by calling us at 800-622-7370, or apply for a customized insurance quote online now. There are absolutely no obligations, and most quotes will be sent in just a few hours. With no application fees and the most competitive rates in the industry, what have you got to lose?

 

Sadler Interviewed in Rough Notes Magazine

Sadler Insurance president sought for insight on amateur athletics risks

John Sadler was interviewed and widely quoted in the April 2013 edition of the insurance trade industry publication, Rough Notes. In an article entitled “Knowledge To Win In Amateur Athletics”, Sadler was quoted on a variety of topics as follows:

  • The increased risks of travel teams over recreational teams in terms of more intense competition, auto IMG_3490exposure from frequent travel, and motel downtime incidents such as drownings and near drownings.
  • Increased prevalence of individual sports instructors looking for General Liability and Professional Liability Coverage.
  • Carriers taking the sex abuse and molestation risk more seriously in wake of the Sandusky scandal by mandating risk management that goes beyond the passing of a criminal background check. Examples include the adoption of written policies and procedures such as the use of a buddy system where a single adult is never alone with a single unrelated child and an incident response plan that requires notification of law enforcement.
  • New carrier fears over concussion exposures and the imposing of Participant Legal Liability policy aggregates for larger associations that will cap total losses in a single policy year.
  • The new emerging cyber threats of hacker access to confidential information and media liability arising out of the posting of defamatory content on sports organization websites and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • The need for coach Professional Liability coverage for those frivolous lawsuits in which coaches are sued for benching an athlete or improper coaching that allegedly results in loss of a college scholarship or pro career.

Source: Knowledge To Win In Amateur Athletics; Rough Notes, April 2013