USA Gymnastics launches 'Clubs Care Campaign' to educate clubs about safe environments for athletes
posted on 09/18/2012

INDIANAPOLIS, September 18, 2012 - As part of its ongoing efforts to promote a safe environment for athletes, USA Gymnastics is launching the "Clubs Care Campaign" in October. This educational initiative, designed specifically for gymnastics clubs, focuses on raising awareness about child sexual abuse so clubs can further their work toward establishing and maintaining a safe environment in their gyms.

On a monthly basis from October 2012 through June 2013, the Clubs Care Campaign will deliver information, strategies, templates, toolkits, checklists, action steps, posters, etc., directly to gymnastics clubs through a variety of avenues, including email, Technique magazine, www.usagym.org/ClubsCare, and the U.S. Postal Service. Clubs can use these materials to develop or refine policies and procedures geared toward eliminating the opportunity for inappropriate behavior or sexual misconduct to occur. For more information, go to www.usagym.org/ClubsCare.

"USA Gymnastics takes very seriously the safety and well-being of our gymnasts," said Peter Vidmar, chairman of USA Gymnastics. "For this reason, USA Gymnastics is pleased to offer these accessible and easy-to-use resources to clubs so they can turn awareness into action."

"Education is an important part of our efforts to promote a safe environment for our athletes," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "We are excited to partner with four organizations that will share their expertise and resources with the gymnastics community."

USA Gymnastics' partners for providing content for the Clubs Care Campaign cover the spectrum from building awareness to empowering action.

  • U.S. Olympic Committee SafeSport program - SafeSport seeks to create a healthy, supportive environment for all participants. Through education, resources, and training, it helps members of the sport community recognize, reduce, and respond to misconduct in sport. It will provide tools, templates and other resources clubs can use to adopt policies and procedures or refine their current efforts. (safesport.org)

  • Child Lures Prevention/Teen Lures Prevention (CLP) - CLP's mission is to help ensure the personal safety of children and youth through increased awareness, education, advocacy and action. Its initial focus will include educating clubs about grooming behaviors and signs of abuse. (childluresprevention.com)

  • Darkness to Light (D2L) - D2L exists to empower adults through awareness and educational programs to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to childhood sexual abuse. It will concentrate on building awareness among the adults in the clubs about what they can and should do to prevent harmful situations from developing. (d2l.org)

  • Stop It Now!® - The mission of Stop It Now! is to prevent the sexual abuse of children by mobilizing adults, families and communities to take actions that protect children before they are harmed. Because of its belief that adults are in the best position to keep children safe from sexual abuse, it will focus on turning awareness into action. (StopItNow.org)

The new education-focused efforts complement the steps USA Gymnastics already has taken to promote a safe environment for its athletes through policy and guideline changes implemented in the last few years. Here's a quick overview of what is currently in place.

  • Participant Welfare Policy - provides guidance on how clubs, coaches and parents can work together to provide a safe environment, as well as requirements and expectations of USA Gymnastics' members. The topics covered in the policy, which may be read in its entirety at www.usagym.org/welfare, include: definitions of abuse used by USA Gymnastics for both physical and sexual abuse; reporting procedures and requirements for suspected abuse; misconduct/grievance procedures; member obligations and recommendations, as well as staff; standards of behavior; and education and communication about the policy to members and the general public.

  • Mandatory criminal background screening and safety/risk management certification for professional members - background screening is renewed every two years; safety/risk management certification is renewed every four years.

  • Code of Ethics - offers general principles to guide the conduct, and the judicious appraisal of conduct, of all USA Gymnastics' members (including employees and agents of USA Gymnastics) in situations that have ethical implications.

  • Published list of individuals banned from membership in USA Gymnastics - posted on the website and printed in both magazines. This lifetime ban means the individual does not have any of the rights or privileges associated with membership in USA Gymnastics, including but not limited to participation in any event conducted or sanctioned by USA Gymnastics. Beginning in 2012, once a final decision has been rendered to bar an individual from membership, not only will the person's name and state be posted on the permanently ineligible for membership list, but also which of the Corporation's Bylaws, rules, regulations or policies was violated. (The expanded listing only applies to matters investigated after the adoption of this policy.).

  • Bylaws changes - Changes to the Bylaws, including Articles 9 and 10 that deal with Member Misconduct and Disciplinary Proceedings and Grievances, improve policies and avoid any ambiguity in the procedures. The most significant changes included an expanded definition of misconduct; delineated types of complaints; clarification of who can file a grievance; and providing additional information on the permanently ineligible list.

  • Member Clubs - To become a USA Gymnastics Member Club, the organization must have a policy consistent with USA Gymnastics' Participant Welfare Policy; certify that no persons permanently ineligible for USA Gymnastics membership - which includes convicted sex offenders and/or persons on the permanently ineligible for membership list - are or will be associated with the organization or its activities in any way during the membership/registration term; and employ at least one staff member who holds a current professional or safety-certified instructor membership.

  • Sanctioning policy - USA Gymnastics expanded its sanction policy to ensure that the club(s), independent organization(s), and/or committee(s) that hosts a sanctioned event is either a Member Club of USA Gymnastics.

  • Only Member Clubs may apply for membership in USA Gymnastics on behalf of an athlete and/or register a team of athletes into sanctioned events - If an athlete who is not affiliated with a Member Club  wants to apply for membership in USA Gymnastics, he/she (or his/her parent/guardian if the athlete is under the age of 18) must apply directly to USA Gymnastics for such membership. His/her status will be "unaffiliated athlete."

  • Expanded educational initiatives - To complement the policy and guidelines changes, USA Gymnastics has expanded the sexual misconduct education in the "Safety Certification and Risk Management" course, which is required for professional members and renewed every four years. Other efforts include providing parent- and athlete-specific materials, links to sexual misconduct courses and information available through USA Gymnastics' educational partners, and educational articles on the website and in USA Gymnastics and Technique magazines.


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