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Everything You Need to Know About the Safe Sport Act

What is the Safe Sport Act? 

The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 was created in reaction to the abuse found various youth sports organizations, including USA Gymnastics. This act will create new a standard of care that will affect youth serving organizations across the country. The purpose of the law is to expand existing mandated reporting laws to all youth sport organizations that participate in international or interstate sporting events. This has the potential to affect not only national governing bodies like USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, and other Olympic sports, but the law will also impact camps, public and private schools, collegiate sports, country clubs, community organizations, and sport facilities.

 Who is Impacted?

The law is written very broadly. Therefore, it is likely this new federal law impacts youth sports organizations in every state. At a minimum, any organization involved in youth sports will likely be held to an increased “standard of care” regarding reporting, training, policies and procedures, and periodic safety system reviews. It is imperative you speak with your legal counsel to determine the specific impacts of the new law on your organization.

Am I Now a Mandated Reporter?

The Safe Sport Act expands the list of individuals required to report child sexual abuse. Now, it is likely any adult who is authorized to interact with youth athletes will be required to report suspicions of abuse to the appropriate law enforcement agencies within 24 hours. Therefore, all staff and volunteers working with youth at your organization could be considered mandatory reporters. Further, there is an additional requirement to report suspicions to the US Center for Safe Sport if your organization is governed by a “National Governing Body” or “Paralympic Sports Organization”.

Does My Staff Need More Training?

All youth sport organizations are likely required to offer and provide consistent training in “abuse prevention.” These organizations must offer and provide consistent training to all adult members who are in regular contact with amateur athletes who are minors, and subject to parental consent, to members who are minors, regarding “prevention and reporting child abuse…” It is important to note that the required training must include “preventative” measures. Therefore, the training must not only focus on reporting or identifying those that have been abused, but it must train individuals in actual prevention techniques such understanding “grooming” practices.

Are New Policies Required?

The Safe Sport Act requires sports organizations to establish reasonable procedures to limit one-on-one interactions between an adult and an amateur athlete who is a minor…without being in an observable and interruptible distance from another adult.

Additional Requirements for National Governing Body Organizations and Paralympic Sports

For NGBs and Paralympic sports additional procedures and policies are required. Such organizations must enact oversight procedures, including regular and random audits conducted by subject matter experts, to ensure that policies and procedures developed to prevent abuse are followed correctly. These audits must be conducted by subject matter experts, like Praesidium Inc. Additionally, these organizations are required to report suspicions of abuse to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, implement a standardized mechanism for reporting, and enact procedures to prohibit retaliation.