Introductory note: USA Gymnastics is one of the many Olympic national governing bodies working in concert with the U.S. Olympic Committee to promote a safe environment for athletes. This new initiative complements USA Gymnastics' two outreach campaigns, "Clubs Care" and "We Care." By working together, the U.S. Olympic community can help raise awareness to prevent child abuse in sport.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The United States Olympic Committee today announced the launch of Make the Commitment: Stop Abuse in Sport, a year-long SafeSport campaign designed to raise awareness and prevent child abuse in sport. The program - which launches in conjunction with child abuse awareness month - runs through April 2014 and encourages U.S. National Governing Bodies, clubs, coaches and parents to help Team USA create a safe sport culture for youth programs across the United States.
The program is the latest step taken by the USOC to implement the recommendations of its Working Group for Safe Training Environments.
"Sport offers innumerable benefits to kids, including enhanced confidence, leadership and self-worth, all important elements to preventing abuse," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. "The U.S. Olympic Committee's commitment to this issue is fully aligned with the values of the Olympic Movement, and as sport administrators, it is our responsibility to provide the essential leadership, energy and resources to create safe and secure environments for children."
Through research, the USOC's SafeSport program has found that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18 - likely by someone they know and trust. With an estimated 44 million youth participating in sport and youth-serving communities, the USOC has an opportunity to help change the odds.
Supporters can make the commitment by visiting TeamUSA.org/StopAbuse, where they may access free newsletters and other resources, including best practices and procedures to identify potential signs of abuse, the environments in which abuse can occur and direction on how to stem misconduct in sport.
Additionally, the dedicated site offers free live training webinars that outline actionable information on different monthly topics to help participants understand, prevent and report child abuse.
"The U.S. Olympic Committee and its National Governing Bodies operate at the national level, so it's critical to provide prevention tools to local clubs, coaches and volunteers who have an opportunity to make an impact at the grassroots level," said Malia Arrington, USOC director of ethics and SafeSport. "This requires constant vigilance and a communal effort among individuals and organizations with a commitment to preventing child abuse."
The campaign will conclude with a SafeSport summit in April 2014, featuring keynote speakers, panel discussions and applied training through practical workshops. Additional event information will be forthcoming and available at TeamUSA.org/StopAbuse.
For more information on Make the Commitment and SafeSport, visit SafeSport.org.