USA Swimming Safe Sport Handbook
There are a lot of great reasons to swim – at any level. As a life‐long activity, people often swim to have fun and spend time with friends. Swimming also encourages a healthy lifestyle and builds self‐confidence. Swimmers even benefit from the sport out of the water. They learn goal‐setting, teamwork and time management skills. Unfortunately, sports, including swimming, can also be a high‐risk environment for misconduct, including physical and sexual abuse. All forms of misconduct are intolerable and in direct conflict with the values of USA Swimming. Misconduct may damage an athlete’s psychological well‐being. Athletes who have been mistreated experience social embarrassment, emotional turmoil, psychological scars, loss of self‐esteem and negative impacts on their relationships with family, friends and the sport. Misconduct often hurts an athlete’s competitive performance and may cause him or her to drop out of our sport entirely. USA Swimming is committed to fostering a fun, healthy and safe sport enviornment for all its members. We all must recognize that the safety of swimmers lies with all those involved in the sport and is not the sole responsibility of any one person at the club, LSC, or national level.
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STAYING IN BOUNDS
Why a Policy on Relationships with Student-Athletes?
Sexual relationships between coaches and student-athletes have become a serious problem. NCAA member
institutions must unambiguously and effectively prohibit such relationships to ensure that sport programs offer
a safe and empowering experience for all student-athletes.
This NCAA resource is designed to educate member institutions and their student-athletes about why sexual
or romantic relationships between athletics department staff and student-athletes are inappropriate, how to
avoid those relationships, and what to do if they occur. When adopted and enforced by institutions of higher
learning, this model policy will help create a safe, healthy environment on college campuses. Although most of
the examples offered herein refer to coaches, the policy is intended to provide clear guidance for all members
of the athletics department (including coaches, administrators, athletics trainers, and other staff), as well as
student-athletes and parents.
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4 UNIVERSITIES AND HIGH SCHOOLS HANDBOOK
Revised March 2013
Schools and colleges that are recipients of federal funds are obligated to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and its specific obligations related to sexual harassment and gender equity. Athletics directors should consult with the institution’s Title IX coordinator and legal counsel to ensure that all adopted policies and procedures conform to these laws.
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The investigation of relationship maintenance strategies has received considerable attention in various types of dyads including romantic, marital, and familial relationships. No research, however, has yet investigated the use of maintenance strategies in the coach-athlete partnership. Thus, this study aimed to investigate coaches’ and athletes’ perceptions of the strategies they use to maintain relationship quality.
Written by: Elaine Raakman1, Kim Dorsch2 and Daniel Rhind3
· The failure to have policies or prevention systems is, in itself, an action by the Club to take no action. In other words and for example, if sued by the victim or her/his family, a court would most likely say “The athlete was harmed by the Club’s failure to exercise reasonable care on behalf of the athlete by failing to adopt and administer policies that would have prevented the abuse suffered.”
- Parents want to know that a sports program is safe for their children. Having specific policies that address these issues will increase parent trust and confidence in club leadership, coaches, or ownership.
- Athletes can concentrate on their sports, without second-guessing their “gut feeling” that someone’s behavior isn’t right.
- Clear rules and a fair process reduce the Club’s risk from lawsuits that may be filed by dismissed coaches or the abused victim or her/his family.
- Many national sport governing bodies (NGB) do not yet require their Club members to have comprehensive athlete protection policies, and if they do, these policies may not address bullying or coach/peer athlete conduct that falls short of criminal behavior.
- Even when NGBs have processes that are applicable in cases of athlete sexual abuse, reporting and investigation procedures take a considerable amount of time and because the NGB is not the employer, the NGB in not in a position to address immediate suspension of an employee in the case of serious misconduct.
The local Club is responsible for the safety of its program participants and is obligated to take immediate action to remedy a hostile environment.
Why should your club adopt Safe4Athletes or similar child safety and welfare policies and procedures?
Attached please find a copy of an important club policy, “Club Philosophy and Policies Governing Professional Coaching Conduct and the Conduct of all Athletes, Employees and Volunteers.” The purpose of this policy is to define in a very clear way inappropriate coach, sport leader and athlete participant conduct and the Club’s commitment to protect the safety and well-being of athletes. The policy defines important terms and concepts such as bully, hazing, initiation rituals, physical punishment, sexual harassment, verbal and emotional abuse, etc. Please let us know if you have any questions.
It is important that an athlete “respect” their coach (teammates, staff and volunteers), but sometimes, they act in ways that can be harmful and hurtful to young athletes.
It is important for every athlete to understand what is unacceptable behavior and when to reach out to an adult to ask for help and guidance.