Today, USA Gymnastics released the 2019 USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy, a comprehensive policy on athlete safety and abuse prevention that establishes standards; defines misconduct; sets boundaries for interaction between an adult, including a coach, and an athlete; and mandates reporting misconduct. The policy is the bedrock of our efforts to foster a safe, positive and encouraging environment where athletes and professional members alike can thrive.
Everyone in the community plays a role in athlete safety and well-being, and that is why we have spent months talking with people from every part of our membership and the community, along with parents and outside experts, to hear their thoughts and perspectives on athlete safety and preventing abuse. We also used the recommendations in the Deborah Daniels report as a guide. Our goal was to have a policy that strikes a balance and allows for an atmosphere where athletes can train while feeling encouraged and safe, parents feel at ease in the process, and coaches feel they are able to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.
Because this policy is the result of a collaborative effort, it provides both protection for athletes and guidance for all involved in the sport. The updated policy eliminates many of the gray areas and more clearly defines misconduct, the behaviors that need to be prevented, and the responsibilities for members and those involved in member clubs.
Both the policy and education about abuse, the warning signs and behaviors to watch for, how to talk with to children or athletes about these topics, and when and where to report are important for preventing the opportunity for abuse to occur.
Our plan is to provide our members and member clubs with ample opportunities to become very familiar with the policy requirements and have access to the resources they need to utilize them effectively. During the summer months, USA Gymnastics is offering a series of free webinars about the updated policy. The Safe Sport Department is presenting multiple sessions on the policy and other safe sport topics at Regional Congresses and the National Congress and Trade Show, as well as speaking with the various national teams about this important topic. A snapshot overview of the policy, frequently asked questions, and additional information are available at usagym.org/safesport.
The Athlete Assistance Fund, established by the National Gymnastics Foundation, also is sponsoring sessions on child abuse awareness and prevention at the National Congress. USA Gymnastics will roll-out a robust educational program that has age-specific content for athletes and gymnastics-specific programming for professional members and parents.
We want to express our appreciation to everyone who spoke with us, as well as the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Committee, the United States Olympic Committee and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, for their guidance and assistance. We also want to thank all professional members, and particularly those who are club owners, who have and continue to work to give athletes a positive gymnastics experience. If you have questions regarding the Safe Sport Policy, you can contact our Safe Sport Department at [email protected].
The involvement of everyone in our entire community – athletes, parents, professional members, club owners, meet directors and staff – is critical for our athlete safety initiatives to be effective and successful.
Li Li Leung
President and CEO