Sport can be a high-risk environment for misconduct, including athlete physical and sexual abuse. Disabled Sports USA and our chapter network serve populations that include the most vulnerable, both youth and adult. DSUSA is committed to improving the development and safety of participants in our community.
Having a strong Sport Protection Policy provides a framework to better protect our participants.
The answer is contextual and depends on several factors including but not limited to:
- Role of the individual
- Age of the individual
- Duration and frequency of the contact the individual may have with participants
Disabled Sports USA, under the advice of counsel, has adopted the definition of covered individuals from the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 (Act 115-126), to include “…all adult members who are in regular contact with amateur athletes…”
While Act 115-126 aims to protect youth athletes, Disabled Sports USA recognizes that our community served includes adults with disabilities who may also be vulnerable to abuse. DSUSA policy requirements reflect the need to protect both youth and adult participants.
The chapter makes the final determination as to what constitutes “regular contact”, taking into consideration that grooming behavior takes place over time, and attempts to build trust and control over the victim. Chapters should also consider that situational abuse may take place with less frequent contact.
- Training and Education requirements for covered individuals on the topics of abuse and misconduct: (i.e. key volunteers, staff and contractors.
- Background Screening Processes
- Applicant Screening
- Criminal Background Check Policy
- Sport Protection Policy, defining and addressing prohibited conduct
- Sport Abuse Prevention Policies addressing relevant topics such as:
- Supervision of Athletes and Participants
- Physical Contact
- Electronic and Social Media Communications
- Locker Rooms and Changing Areas
- Chapter Response to Abuse, Misconduct and/or Policy Violations
- Reporting Policy
- Disciplinary Rules and Procedures that includes reporting of actions to DSUSA
- Chapter Policy Monitoring Strategy
- A written copy of the Chapter’s Sport Protection Policy must be publicly available through normal means to your community (wherever chapter posts program information: web site, in-take forms, public posting boards etc.)
DSUSA has also created a template that chapters may use.
It depends. Defining “covered individuals” is a key aspect to the policy. Covered individuals should be screened using written applications, reference checks and criminal background checks.
The goal in training Covered Individuals is to help prevent abuse in sport with awareness and how to recognize the red flags of emotional, physical and sexual misconduct, and then what to do if abuse does occur. If your training program covers these three areas, it meets DSUSA’s requirement:
- Mandatory Reporting
- Sexual Misconduct Awareness Education
- Emotional and Physical Misconduct
Chapters determine how these costs are borne by Covered Individuals in their network.
Disabled Sports USA has established relationships to provide chapters with access to discounted pricing for training and background screening resources.
- The National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI): $20/person
- The U.S. Center for SafeSport: $17/person
DSUSA has also secured insurance coverage for chapters, increasing coverage limits for sexual abuse and molestation coverage.
We recommend checking out this webinar on The 5 Things You Should Know about the Sport Protection Policy!