USA Gymnastics | Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017
What does the new Federal law, Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017, mean for you?
Understanding the new federal law, “Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017” (referred to as the “Safe Sport Authorization Act”), and what it means to the gymnastics community is important. This article is about educating USA Gymnastics adult members on how to be in compliance with the newly signed federal law.

The new law not only places a heavy and broad responsibility for athlete protection on USA Gymnastics, its adult members, and those who interact with athletes, but also on any amateur sports organization with interstate or international competition and their adult members.

All adult members should take the time to understand and operate within the framework of the new “Safe Sport Authorization Act.” What follows is an outline of the Act’s elements that impact USA Gymnastics, its members, and those who interact with athletes. USA Gymnastics is updating the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy to incorporate the Act’s mandates. The updated Safe Sport Policy is expected to reach members in July, and if members comply with the updated Safe Sport Policy, they will also be in compliance with the federal law.

The USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy already contains many of the new law’s mandates, but there are four main additions.
  • Who falls under the “Safe Sport Authorization Act’s” jurisdiction.
  • New reporting requirements to law enforcement.
  • New reporting requirements to the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
  • Federal mandate to implement the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy or its equivalent.
Who falls under the “Safe Sport Authorization Act’s” jurisdiction?

In addition to the “covered individuals” identified in the current USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy, the new law also includes the following.

“An adult who is authorized by a National Governing Body or amateur sports organization that participates in interstate or international amateur athletic competition to interact with a minor or amateur athlete at:
  • an amateur sports organization facility or
  • at any event sanctioned by the NGB, member of the NGB, or such amateur sports organization.” (Event includes “travel, lodging, practice, competition, health/medical treatment.”)
Here’s what this means.
  1. Any gymnastics club in the United States that participates in interstate or international amateur athletic competitions falls under the law, whether it is a USA Gymnastics member or not.
  2. Any adult who is a member of USA Gymnastics, a member club, or any sports organization, or is authorized by those entities, to interact with a minor or adult athlete anywhere, at any time, must comply with the “Safe Sport Authorization Act.” (For example, all employees and volunteers.)
Because the new law does not define “interact with,” it must be interpreted in the broadest sense. “Interact with” equals “have anything to do with gymnasts.”

NEW REPORTING REQUIREMENTS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT
The “Safe Sport Authorization Act” requires that: Any adult who falls within the law’s jurisdiction must report a reasonable suspicion or knowledge of child abuse (physical and sexual) to law enforcement within 24 hours.

NEW REPORTING REQUIREMENTS TO THE U.S. CENTER FOR SAFESPORT
The “Safe Sport Authorization Act” broadly expanded the role of the U.S. Center for SafeSport (the Center). The federal law now mandates that all “adult members of a NGB, paralympic sports organization, or a facility under the jurisdiction of a NGB or Paralympic sports organization, and all adults authorized by such members to interact with an amateur athlete” must report a reasonable suspicion or knowledge of child (sexual or physical) abuse to the Center.

HOW DOES THE USA GYMNASTICS SAFE SPORT POLICY FIT IN WITH THE NEW FEDERAL LAW?
Safe sport membership requirements outlined in the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy reflect the child abuse prevention mandates in the “Safe Sport Authorization Act.” Therefore, compliance with the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy is not just required for membership, it is now required for compliance with federal law.

HOW CAN USA GYMNASTICS ASSIST?

USA Gymnastics can help members and member clubs understand and comply with the new law. The mandates of the new federal law will be incorporated into the updated USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy that members will receive in July. Therefore, if members comply with the Safe Sport Policy, they are in compliance with the federal law. Additionally, USA Gymnastics will provide an extensive Member Club Toolkit, policy templates and additional resources.

USA Gymnastics is committed to doing everything it can to prevent sexual abuse and create a culture that empowers and supports athletes at every level of the organization.