Posts Tagged ‘sexual predators’

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.

Sex Abuse/Molestation Coverage

Understanding the coverage all youth sports organizations need

Lawsuits alleging sex abuse/molestation have rocked the sports and recreation insurance industry in recent year. Fears are growing that the heightened media coverage of high profile cases like the Sandusky case could open the floodgates for more litigation in the future. Sports and recreation organizations and related sanctioning/governing bodies need to stay on top of this issue.

When there is an incident of sex abuse/molestation within a sports or recreation organization, it’s not just the alleged abuser who is likely to be sued. The entire board of directors and the officers are likely to be sued for failure to screen the offending staff member or volunteer and failure to implement a specific risk management program to protect the children against child predators.

Is your organizations covered?

A General LiabilityCriminal background check policy may cover allegations of sex abuse/molestation as long as there is no specific Abuse/Molestation exclusion. Coverage under such situations is not guaranteed and will depend on state case law and the exact nature of the allegations. However, most carriers that insure sports organization are likely to insert an exclusion for sex abuse/molestation.

Some carriers offer a buy-back with a specific limit for sex abuse/molestation via a special endorsement in order to clarify that coverage exists. This removes all doubts regarding coverage. When a specific limit is offered, it is usually in the form of a per claim limit and a separate aggregate limit.

Carriers that offer this coverage use specific language to place a cap on their overall exposure. This is due to fears generated by some courts having ruled that each abuse/molestation incident is a new occurrence and that successive policies can be stacked on top of each other to multiply the total aggregate limits. In addition, it’s common knowledge that most abusers/molesters have multiple victims. Furthermore, specific wording may be added to exclude coverage for the perpetrator and for other directors or officers who remained silent and did not take action despite knowledge of an incident.

Who in the organization is covered?

It is also common to see a single master General Liability policy with a Sex Abuse/Molestation limit covering an entire sports association or sanctioning body and its member teams/leagues under a single Sex Abuse/Molestation Aggregate limit. This is dangerous since those filing claims later in the policy year may find that they have no General Aggregate limits left to pay their claims. Sports organizations should attempt to negotiate reinstatement of the Sex Abuse/Molestation aggregate on a per league or per team basis.

Coverage for sex abuse/molestation can be difficult to negotiate with the carriers unless the sports organization can prove that it has implemented certain controls such as mandatory criminal background checks on all adults with access to youth, mandatory staff and parent education, policies and procedures to make an incident less likely to occur (ex: prohibition of sleepovers, no single adult to be alone with a single child, etc.), and mandatory reporting of occurrences to board and police.

For more information on this topic, our risk management library has articles, protection programs, and training videos.

Protecting Against Sexual Abuse and Molestation

Keeping youth athletes safe from sexual predators

Child sexual predators fall into one of two categories: “grabbers” and “groomers”. Most sexual misconduct involves grooming, which can easily be confused with innocent behavior. The best way to protect children against sexual grooming  and thus sexual misconduct is to protect them against inappropriate boundary invasions.

Sexual grooming by adults involves a process with the following elements:

  1.  Finding a vulnerable child lacking self-confidence, low self- esteem, or parental attention.sports risk managment
  2. Involving the child in peer-like activities such as hanging out away from the ball park.
  3. Desensitizing the child to touch such by tickling, patting, stroking, or wrestling.
  4. Isolating by spending a large amount of time alone with the child and urging them to keep secrets.
  5. Making the child feel responsible for the sexual misconduct that has occurred.

Inappropriate boundary invasions involve the adult invading the child’s personal life or personal space by the following actions:

  •  Showing undue interest in a child
  • Giving gifts
  • Peer-like behavior like hanging out
  • Granting special privileges
  • Discussing adult matters
  • Keeping secrets
  • Being alone with, attending outings with, transporting to school and events
  • Telling sexual jokes, showing pornography, asking sexual questions
  • Hugging, kissing, physical contact

The following steps help preventing inappropriate boundary invasions:

  1. Educate administrators, employees, and volunteers on the definition and associated behaviors inappropriate boundary invasions, sexual grooming, and sex abuse/molestation.
  2. Expressly prohibit inappropriate boundary invasions.
  3. Require all employees, and volunteers to report all inappropriate boundary invasions to administration.
  4. Correct and discipline offenders and those who fail to report.

It is also interesting to note that litigation for sex abuse and molestation can occur decades after the incidents since there is no statute of limitations on this type of behavior. The alleged abuser, the legal entity, and respective directors and officers will all be sued for failure to screen, failure to respond to an allegation, or failure to implement policies and procedures to prevent occurrences. It is critical for organizations to keep all General Liability policies on hand indefinitely in the event of future litigation. In addition, the past administration will be held accountable for their lack of oversight based on today’s standards instead of past standards which were much more relaxed.

The delayed reaction nature of litigation for sexual abuse and molestation is another reason why a claims-made policy form is inferior to the occurrence policy form under a General Liability policy. Please read our article “Occurrence vs Claims Insurance Made For Sports Organizations” for more detailed information.

 Source: “Protecting Children from Sexual Misconduct by School Employees”, Donald F. Austin and Michael Patterson.