Frequently-Asked Questions for 2019 USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy and Reporting
This list of frequently asked questions was developed to assist members and the community with questions they may have regarding the 2019 USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy and the reporting process.

The FAQ is divided into eight sections: For questions not addressed in this list, please email the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Department at safesportpolicy@usagym.org.
Making a Report
USA Gymnastics recognizes that making a misconduct report can cause unease, concern and anxiety. It may be scary to think of the “what-ifs.” This FAQ is intended to help answer common questions and ease concerns when making that important decision.
  • When should I make a report?
    Federal law requires you to report when you learn of facts that give reason to suspect that a child has suffered an instance of child abuse, including sexual abuse. Federal law requires this report to be made within 24 hours.

    Each state defines child abuse and sets reporting standards independently of the federal government. States vary in their reporting standards, which makes it important to consult the laws in your state regarding individual reporting requirements. Some states require reports to be made immediately, without delay. Being unaware of these requirements is not a defense.

    After reporting to law enforcement or child services as required, you must also report abuse of minor amateur athletes to the U.S. Center for SafeSport (the Center).

    This simple guide will tell you where and when to report.

    Child Abuse
    • Report immediately to law enforcement and to the Center when...
      • ...facts are learned give reason to suspect that any child has suffered an incident of child abuse.
      • ...an adult is informed of an allegation of child abuse.
    Sexual Misconduct
    • Report immediately upon learning of the misconduct.
      • To the U.S. Center for SafeSport at uscenterforsafesport.org or 720.531.0340 during business hours (Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. MT)
    Non-sexual Misconduct At a meet
    • If misconduct occurs at a meet, inform the meet director or local law enforcement so action may be taken immediately for the safety and protection of the athletes and other attendees.
    Click here for the guide to laws in every state.
Disclosure of Reports and Privacy in Reporting
  • What can USA Gymnastics disclose regarding reports?
    USA Gymnastics will follow state and federal law and report child abuseand will not withhold information from law enforcement when reporting child abuse. Unless required by law, USA Gymnastics will respect requests for privacy when reports are submitted and will notify those making a report before the reported information is shared with the person accused. Circumstances may arise where USA Gymnastics is unable to proceed in the safe-sport process without disclosing the report and/or identity of the reporter.
  • Can I find out if a report has been made on my child’s gym or coach
    The U.S. Center for SafeSport and USA Gymnastics publish suspensions or restrictive measures, as well as individuals who are ineligible for membership. In all other instances, USA Gymnastics will not release information on a report. USA Gymnastics will protect the privacy of the person making the report and must determine that reports are reliable before taking any public action. You can find suspension and permanently ineligible members through the following sites:
  • What is the difference between reporting abuse and misconduct?
    Abuse is a criminal activity as defined by both state and federal law. Criminal activity should be reported to law enforcement and/or child services. Abuse of a minor amateur athlete must also be reported to the U.S. Center for SafeSport after reporting to the appropriate state authorities.

    Misconduct is defined by SafeSport Code for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements and in the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy. Sexual misconduct should be reported to the U.S. Center for SafeSport. The other forms of misconduct should be reported to USA Gymnastics’ Safe Sport Department.
  • What happens after I make a report to the U.S. Center for SafeSport?
    The U.S. Center for SafeSport has exclusive jurisdiction over all matters related to sexual misconduct. USA Gymnastics will receive notice that jurisdiction has been exercised, but will not be given information related to the matter until a decision has become final. All questions related to reports made to the Center should be directed to them.
  • What happens after I make a report to USA Gymnastics?
    USA Gymnastics reviews any report for child abuse or sexual misconduct that it receives and refers them to law enforcement and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, as required by law.

    Any matters remaining with USA Gymnastics are then reviewed for misconduct or other policy violations.
    • Violations of the Prevention Polices (Ex: One-on-One or the Social Media Policies) will be addressed directly with the member club and the subject of the policy violation.
    • Misconduct or other prohibited conduct will be assigned to an investigator to gather more information.
    After the information is gathered, the information is reviewed to determine the appropriate response from USA Gymnastics.

    USA Gymnastics uses a case management tracking system that sends an automatic reply to the reporting party once an incident is logged into the system to acknowledge receipt of the report.
  • What should be reported to USA Gymnastics Safe Sport?
    • Non-sexual misconduct or other prohibited conduct.
    • Any Policy concerns.
    • Violations of the USA Gymnastics Code of Ethical Conduct.
    • Any matter involving the safety of USA Gymnastics members or athletes in the USA Gymnastics setting (Clubs, events, meets, training, etc.).
  • When will USA Gymnastics refuse a report?
    USA Gymnastics will accept all reports but will only investigate and resolve safe-sport-relevant conduct and/or behavior.
  • What matters may not be appropriate subjects for the Safe Sport process?
    • Fees, dues or other financial matters.
    • Disagreements between adults.
    • Reports that are not directed toward a covered individual.
    • Team selection.
    • Scoring.
  • What if I receive a report second-hand and am not sure what really happened?
    If the report involves child abuse, please consult with an attorney, local police department, child services, children’s hospital or a child advocacy center if you have questions. Reporting laws vary from state to state and may require a report under these circumstances.

    For more information on immunity granted to persons who report child abuse in good faith, click here.

    If the report involves misconduct under the SafeSport Code, you may call the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Helpline or file a report even if you are unaware of all the facts.
  • May I file an anonymous report?
    Yes.
  • What happens if a false report is made?
    A false report is an intentional or malicious lie meant to harm an individual or their business without regard for the truth. A false report is not a report that is later proven wrong.

    U.S. Center for SafeSport and USA Gymnastics policies address false reports, and a false report may be considered Misconduct under the SafeSport Code.
  • If someone files a report of misconduct, will it impact their ability to participate in gymnastics activities and competitions?
    No one may interfere with a person’s ability to report misconduct by intimidating them or barring them or their parent/guardian from practice, competition, etc. Interfering with or retaliating against a person for making a report of misconduct is considered Misconduct Related to the Resolution Process. USA Gymnastics will treat retaliation as an offense warranting suspension and/or termination of the offending party.
  • How does a report of misconduct impact the individual who is the subject of the report?
    A report of misconduct may result in an investigation and disciplinary or other action. If a report indicates an immediate danger or threat to the gymnastics community, USA Gymnastics may impose interim measures, including suspension for the duration of the investigation. The information remains confidential unless an interim measure is put in place, which is posted to the website, or the final decision involves either suspension or being added to the list of individuals permanently ineligible for membership.
Jurisdiction
  • What is the U.S. Center for SafeSport?
    The U.S. Center for SafeSport is an independent nonprofit organization that has exclusive authority given to them by the “Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017” and United States Olympic Committee Bylaws to investigate and resolve possible SafeSport Code violations involving sexual misconduct.
  • What is USA Gymnastics Safe Sport?
    USA Gymnastics Safe Sport is the organization’s department that handles all safe-sport-related matters, such as reports of misconduct and prevention policy violations, education regarding policy and education for the prevention of abuse.
  • Where can I call for more information regarding USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy or other safe-sport-related matters?
    If you have a question regarding policy or misconduct, you can contact the USA Gymnastics helpline at 833-844-7233. This is not a 24-hour hotline, and calls will be returned as soon as possible.
What To Do At a Meet
USA Gymnastics understands there are times in a competitive environment when necessary safety measures are implemented for the protection of the competitors, coaches and other attendees. In a situation where a decision is needed in real-time, the Meet Director has the authority to make the ultimate decision on the removal of a person from the environment for the protection of the athletes. If the person removed from the meet environment is a covered individual and the meet director has reason to believe the person has committed misconduct or violated prevention policies, he or she shall file a report with USA Gymnastics. The Meet Director’s actions will be supported by USA Gymnastics.

Does access to training apply to competitions?
Meet directors have jurisdiction to set guidelines during meet activities that are in the best interest of the gymnast. This can include closing warm-up activities to the public, however, the one-on-one policy always applies.
USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy Basics
USA Gymnastics is deeply committed to the protection and safety of its athletes and members. The USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy is a shared commitment by all participants in gymnastics and is a starting point for continuous dialogue regarding athlete safety and well-being. On February 14, 2018, the “Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017” was signed into law. This law gives the U.S. Center for SafeSport jurisdiction to address the risk of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of amateur athletes in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements. The Center is authorized by federal law to develop policies for implementation by U.S. national governing bodies to prevent abuse that cover misconduct and prevention policies. The USA Gymnastics Policy has been approved by the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
  • What is the purpose of the USA Gymnastics policy?
    USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy was put into place in June 2019, and replaced the Participant Welfare Policy. The USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy reflects athlete safety polices of USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Center for SafeSport, and the United States Olympic Committee. It mandates reporting of certain behaviors, defines misconduct, and sets standards that address abusive behavior.
  • How was the policy developed?
    The USA Gymnastics Policy is a shared document with input from individuals with all of the USA Gymnastics disciplines ; the Safe Sport Committee that is made up of child welfare experts, club owners and former athletes; the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors; and the U.S. Center for SafeSport. During the drafting process and finalizing the document, feedback was solicited from parents of current gymnasts; former gymnasts, including abuse survivors; and professionals in a variety of sports disciplines.
  • When will the policy be reviewed?
    The policy is a “living document” will be reviewed at least annually, as well as when the U.S. Center for SafeSport or the USOC makes a policy change. USA Gymnastics reserves the right to update the policy as needed.
  • What are the categories of misconduct?
    There are two primary categories of misconduct: sexual and non-sexual. The types of non-sexual misconduct include physical, emotional, hazing, harassment, bullying, stalking, and abuse of process.
  • What if I want to make policy for my gym different than that of the USA Gymnastics policy?
    USA Gymnastics is considered the starting point for member clubs. A member club may opt to make a policy that is more stringent for the protection of its athletes and coaches, and that fits their personal circumstances.
Misconduct Overview
Click here to view these types of misconduct in the Safe Sport Policy document.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport through the “SafeSport Code for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement” have identified categories of misconduct that create emotionally and physically unsafe environments for participants. USA Gymnastics believes that creating a safe, positive and encouraging environment for its gymnasts requires adults to take responsibility for preventing misconduct in all circumstances of participation, including training, practice, travel and competitions.

All misconduct is strictly prohibited.
  • Sexual Misconduct
    Any misconduct allegation that contains an element of sexual conduct must be reported to the U.S. Center for SafeSport. Sexual misconduct is defined as sexual conduct without consent, sexual relationships involving a power imbalance, sexual relations with a minor, and sexual harassment, among others.
  • Emotional Misconduct
    Emotional misconduct involves a pattern of deliberate, non-contact behavior that has the potential to cause emotional or psychological harm to an athlete. This can include verbal and non-contact physical acts as well as actions that deny support.

    As a general rule, emotional misconduct includes repeated personal attacks, discriminatory language, throwing objects to create fear, striking objects, and deliberate isolation for long periods of time that serves no training or motivational purpose.
  • Physical Misconduct
    Physical misconduct is intentional conduct that causes or reasonably threatens physical harm to an athlete, and can be identified by contact, non-contact and athlete care. Non-contact physical misconduct includes confinement; denying hydration, nutrition and sleep; and forcing an athlete to assume painful positions that serve no athletic purpose, such as kneeling on a hard surface.

    The SafeSport Code for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement defines medical misconduct to include encouraging or knowingly permitting a severely injured athlete to return to training or competition without clearance from a medical professional or against medical advice. A best practice is to document and notify parents of all injuries.

    USA Gymnastics will consider the following factors:
    • Was the coach aware of the injury?
    • Did the parents give permission for the athlete to return to training or competition?
    • Was the coach aware that the athlete had been seen by or was under medical care?
  • Bullying
    Bullying is an unwanted act that is repeated, intentional and involves a power imbalance. The action is meant to create fear in another person who feels helpless to respond, as well as eliminate the social standing of the target. An act of bullying can be committed by one person or by a group. Bullying is behavior that can include name-calling, ridiculing, lying, and taunting based on gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability and national orientation.

    While minor athletes are often the perpetrators of bullying toward their teammates, it is a policy violation for a responsible adult to know of bullying, but takes no action to intervene on behalf of the targeted person.
  • Hazing
    Hazing is any conduct that endangers, abuses, humiliates, degrades or intimidates a person as a condition of joining or being socially accepted by a team or group.
  • Harassment
    Harassment is repeated attempts to establish dominance or superiority over an individual or group. Harassing conduct depends on the totality of the circumstances, including the nature, frequency, intensity, location, context and duration of the behavior. Examples of harassment can include discrimination, sexual innuendo and stalking.
  • Stalking
    Stalking is purposefully engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated visual or physical proximity; nonconsensual communication; knowing the cause of conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for his/her safety or the safety of a third person; or to experience significant mental suffering or anguish.

    Stalking is a serious offense. If you suspect stalking or have questions about stalking, please contact local law enforcement.
Prevention Policies
Click here to view the prevention policies in the Safe Sport Policy document.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport requires each National Governing Body to adopt the minimum standards of the Minor Athlete Abuse Protection Policy. These policies (known as Prevention Policies) provide a framework for the management of adult and athlete boundaries both in and out of the gymnastics environment. USA Gymnastics has adopted 10 prevention policies that are meant to prevent the opportunity for abuse or misconduct to occur by establishing boundaries for adult-athlete interactions. These prevention policies serve as protection for both the athlete and coach, while increasing overall awareness of best practices.

USA Gymnastics recognizes coaches may have familial and/or pre-existing social relationships with their athletes. Professional judgment should always guide decisions when a dual relationship presents itself to avoid violating this policy, the appearance of impropriety, and/or the appearance of favoritism. Coaches should proactively discuss these circumstances with their supervisor or club owner for guidance.
  • What are the categories of prevention policies and what is their purpose?
    Prevention polices are intended to increase professional expectations in our clubs and prevent the opportunity for grooming practices and other behaviors deemed a danger to children.

    The 10 prevention policy categories are: One-on-One Interaction; Travel; Social Media and Electronic Communications; Photography and Video; Locker Room/Changing Areas; Gifting; Massaging/Icing/Taping; Stretching and Other Physical Contact; Drugs/Alcohol, and Access to Practices.
Background Checks and Best Practices in Hiring
USA Gymnastics first instituted a criminal background check policy in 2007 as part of a greater effort to promote a safe environment for gymnastics participants. Background screenings must be completed successfully as a condition of membership in USA Gymnastics. All adult members are subject to this policy, including athletes 18 years and older. The USA Gymnastics background check policy may be updated periodically, and members will be notified if such changes occur. First-time professional and instructor members must complete successfully the background check and the SafeSport Core Course-U110 prior to contact with minor athletes. In addition, background screening must also be completed for all USA Gymnastics board, staff, and other members designated by USA Gymnastics. USA Gymnastics will carry out this requirement in a fair, consistent and non-discriminatory manner.

For more information and a FAQ regarding the background screening process, please click here.
Parent/Guardian FAQ
USA Gymnastics cares deeply about the part the parent’s/guardian’s voice plays in preventing abuse in gymnastics. Reading our Safe Sport Policy and Quick Snapshot Guide is important for information related to misconduct in gymnastics and the standards to which our member clubs and professional members are held. Communication between parents, coaches, and club management is necessary for the success and well-being of every athlete. This dialogue will help us build a community that will ultimately keep athlete safety and well-being at the forefront of everything we do. USA Gymnastics Safe Sport personnel are available to talk with you, and by calling us, we can help you better understand our policies and the reporting process.

Where should I report if I suspect sexual misconduct?
The U.S. Center for SafeSport has exclusive jurisdiction over all situations related to sexual misconduct. If you suspect sexual misconduct, please contact your local authorities and the U.S. Center for SafeSport. If you are unsure, you may contact the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Helpline for guidance at 833-844-7233 or Safesportpolicy@usagym.org. All other misconduct should be reported to USA Gymnastics through our online portal.

When should I make a report of non-sexual misconduct?
Reading the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy is important to understand and know what is reportable under that policy. All misconduct and violations of the Prevention Policies are reportable. If you are unsure, we encourage you to call our Safe Sport helpline at 833-844-7233 or contact us via email at Safesportpolicy@usagym.org. It’s important to trust your instincts as a parent for the safety of your child and the children within the gym and make the report, even when you question if it’s a reportable offense.

What reports do not fall within the jurisdiction of USA Gymnastics?
The authority of USA Gymnastics does not extend to involvement in employment matters between a club and its employees, misunderstandings associated with fees, or disagreements related to team placement and/or scores. Additionally, parents and club personnel are encouraged to work together to solve problems before those problems escalate. As a reminder, all matters involving sexual misconduct are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Center for SafeSport and local authorities.

I have a problem with the environmental conditions at my child’s club such as temperature, cleanliness or equipment. Can I report this?
Yes. Safe environmental conditions are very important to USA Gymnastics. However, we are unable to physically inspect a gym for unsafe environmental conditions. We encourage you to first contact your club’s management to express your concerns and possibly your local health department.

Does reporting anonymously change the process?
Possibly. We understand that reporting can be difficult and the person making the report may have fears about possible retaliation. However, an anonymous report can slow or completely halt the process of the investigation, as well as the resolution, when there is no identifying information from the reporter.

USA Gymnastics keeps all information included in reports confidential. Identifying information such as name, phone number, and email address are only used for follow-up purposes.

My child is being bullied or harassed by other teammates. What should I do?
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among peers that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated and occurs over the course of time.

Bullying and harassment should never be tolerated in any gymnastics environment, and it goes against the core values of USA Gymnastics and violates the Safe Sport Policy. We encourage parents, athletes and coaches to work together to find solutions to problems between teammates, so a swift resolution can be found if at all possible.

Common questions to consider before reporting:
  1. Has this occurred over the course of time?
  2. Is there a power imbalance between the athletes? (Example: Is one athlete older, been on the team longer, or have a higher social status?)
  3. Are there examples of humiliation, degradation, discriminatory language, or deliberate isolation from teammates?
  4. Has there been any harassment via social media or electronic communication, such as text or email?
  5. Have there been any photographs taken and then altered?
  6. Has this issue been addressed with the club owner/coach?
I believe my child is being exposed to emotionally abusive coaching. What should I do?
If you believe that emotional or verbal misconduct is happening in your gym but are unsure, here are some questions to consider.
  1. Has this instance occurred more than once?
  2. Are there examples of humiliation, degradation, body shaming or discriminatory actions?
  3. Have there been instances of name calling, constant screaming, or offhanded jokes directed at your child?
  4. Are basic needs such as water, bathroom breaks, or medical care ignored or denied as a means of punishment?
  5. Have there been times when items have been thrown at your child, other children or in a way that would cause a reasonable person to be fearful?
  6. Is your child showing signs of fear when going to practice?
  7. Have you noticed an increased level of sadness, a loss of interest in gymnastics, or extreme anxiety before or after practice?
  8. Does your child express a sense of “walking on eggshells” while they are around the coach in question?
  9. Has this situation been brought to the attention of the management of the gym?
If you believe your child or other children have been exposed to emotional misconduct in a USA Gymnastics member club, please contact USA Gymnastics at Safesportpolicy@usagym.org or on the helpline at 833-844-7233.

To make a formal report, please visit our online portal.

I can’t always take my child to practice or a meet. Can my child travel with his/her coach?
The one-on-one policy always applies, including daily transportation to and from regular activities. Absent emergency circumstances, adult professional and instructor members of USA Gymnastics shall not ride in a vehicle alone with a single, unrelated minor athlete.

A member club may deviate from the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy for the limited purpose of airline travel or local travel with parental consent. The member club exercising this option must:
  1. Indemnify USA Gymnastics from all liability, and must execute the Indemnification Form.
  2. Submit the Indemnification Form to Safesportpolicy@usagym.org where it will be filed with their club membership agreement.
  3. Parents or legal guardians, the authorized agent for club, and the unrelated adult must sign the written consent form; the original is kept on file with the member club; and a copy is submitted to USA Gymnastics.
  4. Parents and Minor Athletes involved must take the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s course on recognizing and responding to signs of abuse. This course is available online.
My child’s club has implemented restricted viewing times for practice. Is this consistent with USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy?
Per USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy, all member clubs must permit parents and guardians access to training sessions. However, many of our member clubs have issues related to space, noise levels that can distract the athletes, or are trying to build a sense of independence in their athletes while training. Some of these matters may impact the ability of a parent to view their child for limited periods of time. We encourage you to ask your club owners for clarification and reasoning behind their policies and work together toward reasonable solutions.

For clarification:
  1. Clubs CAN set parameters related to viewing times based on space available, parental behavior during practice sessions or behavior of the athlete while the parents are viewing.
  2. Clubs CANNOT ban all team parents from viewing of practices. Rather, clubs CAN develop a schedule that allows for team parents to rotate in-person parental viewing of practice.
  3. Clubs CANNOT physically prevent a parent from entering a building where his/her child is located. For example, locking business doors to prevent parental access to the building is not an option.
  4. Clubs CAN, should a parent create a disruptive club environment for staff, athletes or other clientele, establish an alternative viewing opportunity, such as closed-circuit video viewing, and/or assigning another family member to view practice.
  5. A club must provide fair notice and process to any parent that they will be denying the ability to physically witness practice.
If you are unsure whether or not you should make a report based on parental access to training or would just like to discuss potential best practices for parental viewing, please contact the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Helpline for guidance at 833-844-7233 or via email at Safesportpolicy@usagym.org.

Could you clarify the one-on-one policy for parents who have other professional relationships with their child’s coach, such as babysitter or nanny?
We understand that there are times when professional relationships were created before a family and coach entered into a coach/athlete relationship. However, it is against the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy for a professional member of USA Gymnastics to be one-on-one with a minor athlete because of the power imbalance involved in the relationship. We encourage parents to seek other options for childcare.

USA Gymnastics understands there are numerous situations between families and coaches that we can’t account for in a policy. For clarification of this policy and situations that may cause confusion, please contact the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Helpline for guidance at 833-844-7233 or via email at Safesportpolicy@usagym.org.

My child was just invited to join the team. How can I be sure if the number of hours he/she is being asked to train is appropriate? How can I ensure my child’s overall well-being and mental health as he/she progresses through the gymnastics system?
Congratulations on your child’s joining the USA Gymnastics family! Joining a gymnastics team can be fun, but also tough as they learn the skills and discipline required to be competitive. We encourage you to keep an open dialogue with your child regarding his/her stress, ability to manage his/her schoolwork, friends he/she is making in the gym, and feelings he/she may have toward his/her coaches and training schedule. Additionally, making your child’s coach aware of any concerns will go a long way in lessening the potential for problems and misunderstandings in the future.

USA Gymnastics does not set policy on competitive team requirements for athletes at the club level. Decisions are left up to the club and coaching staff of each gym. Before having your child join the team, be sure to ask the following questions.
  1. How many hours will my child train on a weekly basis?
  2. What are the costs involved, including tuition, meet fees, uniform fees, travel and choreography fees?
  3. What is the approximate amount of meets my child will participate in during the season?
  4. How much travel will be expected of my child each season?
  5. What is expected of my child in terms of conditioning?
  6. How will the coaching style change now that my child has moved from the recreation team to the competitive team?
  7. What is the best method and time to communicate with my child’s coach regarding his/her progress or concerns I may have?
  8. Is there a team parent who has been here longer that I can be paired with to help me with this transition?