Confronting Sexual Abuse and Harassment by Sport Coaches: A Need for a National Effort

Tennis Lesson

The world of sports has been riddled with sexual abuse and harassment of young athletes by their powerful and publicly respected coaches (respected for producing performance results) for many decades, across all sports, regardless of sex. While there is no consistently collected data on the prevalence of these transgressions, there is reason to believe that news reports and limited data from national sport governing bodies represent the proverbial “tip of the iceberg”. 

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Our Mission: Advocate for athlete welfare where every athlete is provided a safe and positive environment free of abuse, bullying and harassment.
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Dear Friend,

As Safe4Athletes approaches year 3, we would like to say many thanks to all of our donors for their continued support.  Your help makes the good work of Safe4Athletes possible.   It is because of your support that we are successfully  “giving every athlete a voice” at every level of sports, from open amateur club sports programs to NCAA Division I athletics and beyond.

We have taken many steps forward this year in advocating for a safe and positive environment for every athlete, free of abuse, bullying and harassment:

  1. We have created, and made available, a mobile application that can report abuse direct to some of our clubs as well to Safe4Athletes. We have provided online educational material available to all athletes at their fingertips.  Available for iPhone, Android and Windows devices
  2. We started to create online educational videos explaining the Safe4Athletes program with hopes to continue to expand this library to include education on all forms of abuse and bullying.
  3. We continue to maintain a high quality website,, and have continued to  add resources, providing valuable educational  materials for thousands of users
  4. We have consistently kept our community informed on important issues through our newsletters. 
  5. We have continued to speak to clubs and universities all over the country, directly educating athletes, coaching staff and parents on the Safe4Athletes program.
  6. We continue to facilitate direct aid to several athletes requiring long-term care to assist them in dealing with the on-going issues of abuse.
  7. We have implemented Safe4Athletes within private high schools around the country that aren’t protected by Title IX sexual harassment prohibitions, which only apply to institutions that are recipients of federal funds, by developing a handbook that is that is based on the Title IX compliance model. 
  8. We have responded to the calls from many victims and parents of victims who are requesting our help with current issues ranging from taking action in the case of severe abuse to advocating for state legislation to make current laws more effective.
  9. We have developed surveys to further understand the issues on the topic of abuse. 
  10. We have shared our survey results at various conferences across the country and at the IWG conference in Helsinki early this year.
  11. We have continued to develop a referral list of highly specialized therapists who are experts in working with coach/athlete trauma.

There isn’t enough time, with present resources, to respond to all the requests and advocate on the numerous fronts that need to be addressed.  One thing is crystal clear, there is a real, repressed and denied need for athlete welfare initiatives.  Sexual abuse, bullying, and harassment has gone unchecked for too long.

Our goals for the coming year include the development of more online educational material, taking on more individual athlete cases and speaking at more conference around the athletic community.  And of course, we will continue to be available to athletes in need of resources and assistance.

We hope that you will help us continue our important work.  Whether it’s a gift to support our non-profit programs, a willingness to share our materials and newsletters with your friends, hosting a fundraiser and educational program in your sports community or home, serving on our board or on a committee, or volunteering to work on a project, we would be grateful for your involvement.,   

Please do not hesitate to call me if you would like to explore other ways to make a difference.  Again, thanks so much for your support!

With thanks,

Katherine Starr

Founder & President

Latest blog

  • Founder Katherine Starr Joins the USOC Safe Sport Advisory Council
    Written by Katherine Starr

    COLORADO SPRINGS – The United States Olympic Committee today announced the formation of an independent advisory council to guide the launch of the United States Center for Safe Sport. The council is charged with providing industry expertise to support and inform the center during its start-up phase through June 2015.

    The USOC’s board of directors unanimously approved the creation of the U.S. Center for Safe Sport in June 2014 based on recommendations from the USOC’s Safe Sport Working Group. The independent entity will oversee education programs for safe sport, and investigate and adjudicate claims of misconduct in sports that are managed by USOC-sanctioned National Governing Bodies.

    “There is no national agency today that is responsible for the safety and well-being of young athletes and we’re in position to lead this important effort,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “The National Center for Safe Sport will help fill that vacuum by providing training and resources, promoting open dialogue and conducting investigations on a national level.”

    The seven-member council consists of external experts and industry leaders in abuse prevention, including Tony Foreman (Oklahoma City Police Department), Angelo Giardino (Texas Children’s Hospital), W. Scott Lewis (National Center for Higher Risk Management Group), Laurie Nathan (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), Stephanie Smith (Child Protection Training Services), Katherine Starr (Safe4Athletes) and Dr. Jeffery Wilkins (Cedars-Sinai).

    Written on Tuesday, 02 December 2014 15:17
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