On February 14th, 2018, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 was enacted by Congress and became federal law. It is more commonly referred to as the SafeSport Act.
In 2017, the U.S. Olympic Committee entrusted the U.S. Center for SafeSport (the Center) with the authority to respond to reports of sexual misconduct within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements involving sexual misconduct. The SafeSport Act codifies that the Center has exclusive authority over National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBS) to investigate and take action for allegations of sexual abuse. What this means is that individual NGBS (USA Track & Field, USA Swimming, USA Hockey) no longer make their own investigations of abuse allegations. This will now be handled by the U.S. Center for SafeSport. This helps to potentially eliminate confusions as to where to report allegations of abuse, as a central organization is now responsible for reporting intake and investigation.
The NGBS have issued Safe Sport directives that outline protocols people must follow if they are associated with those organizations and are actively involved in the delivery of the sport, especially if they are working with youth. These directives are in accordance with the Safe Sport Act. For example USA Track & Field (USATF) has issued their directives (www.usatf.org/About/SafeSport.aspx - See SafeSport Handbook).
So what does all of this mean for RRCA Clubs and Events?
While much of the Safe Sport Act speaks to the actions of NGBS, managing interactions during international and inter-state competitions, and the role of the Center, it does outline that non-NGBS, and adults working in youth sports (like RRCA and its members), have certain requirements they must also implement and follow to be in compliance with the Safe Sport Act. These include:
- Any adult (mandated reporter) who is authorized to interact with youth athletes are required to report suspicions of abuse to the appropriate law enforcement agencies within 24 hours.
- All adults working with youth are required to go through abuse prevention training of some sort that is pro-active rather than re-active. The abuse prevention training must include educational material about the process of sexual grooming, how to recognize it, and how to prevent it (RRCA's free training resource below is compliant with these requirements).
- Organizations working with youth should have a criminal background check policy in place that addresses obtaining background checks for those that will have direct contact and oversight of children during a youth program or race.
Mandatory Abuse Reporting within 24-Hours Policy
As a first step in Safe Sport compliance all RRCA running clubs, events, and coaches working with youth should establish a mandated reporter policy for their organizations. Many clubs and events may work with partner organizations that already have reporting policies in place. It is wise to check with your youth running partners to determine if their policies comply with the Safe Sport Act as outlined. The RRCA recommends adopting the following policy:
Any adult interacting with amateur athletes, defined as a child or minor under the age of 18 that participates in youth running programs or any events hosted or operated by (ADD YOUR ORGANIZATION NAME), has a duty to report a reasonable suspicion of sexual misconduct such as child sex abuse, non-consensual sexual conduct, sexual harassment or intimate relationships involving an imbalance of power within a 24- hour period to local law enforcement (PROVIDE SPECIFIC CONTACT INFORMATION FOR YOUR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY TASKED WITH ABUSE REPORTING INTAKE). EVERY adult that staffs or volunteers to organize, assist with, or manage any element a program or event where youth participate is a mandatory reporter and subject to this policy.
As part of your volunteer registration form for your club programs or event(s) where youth will be participating, you must include a copy of this policy as part of your volunteer sign-up form. Require all volunteers and staff to attest to having read the policy and agree to abide by the policy. This policy should not be buried in a waiver of liability. It should be clearly visible text where someone must affirmatively agree that they have read, understood, and agree to abide by the policy.
Establish a NO One-on-One Contact Policy for Anyone Working with Youth
The concept is pretty simple, but very powerful. A NO one-on-one contact policy or rule simply outlines that an adult staff member or volunteer shall never be alone, unsupervised with a child that is not their own child during a youth running program or at an event.
Include Text in Your Waiver about Barring People on the Sex Offender Registry
The USATF Directive 3 outlines events must have protocols in place to ensure...”that no participant is a danger to volunteers or other participants.” I know what you are thinking, this is crazy right. It is inconceivable for event directors to be expected to compare all of their participants against a sex offender registry. However, viewed in a sensible light, we believe there is a reasonable approach event directors can take to address this directive.
The RRCA has long-promoted that clubs should adopt the RRCA recommended member code of conduct (RRCA.org/resources/club-directors/manage-your-club/adopting-a-member-code-of-conduct). This member code of conduct speaks to barring registered sex offenders from club membership or removing members found on the sex offender registry. This same point can be applied to event participants. The RRCA encourages events to include a notice in the event waiver that outlines that race organizers reserve the right to bar the participant from the event if it is reported to and confirmed by organizers that the participant is a registered sex offender. What this does is put registered sex offenders on notice that they are not welcome at your event, and your event has put a protocol in place to help protect volunteers and other participants.
Training Options for Staff and Volunteers
RRCA's Sexual Abuse Awareness and Reporting Training for Staff and Volunteers.
This FREE online training resource is designed to provide RRCA members and all of their volunteers with a free resource to meet the education requirements outlined in the Safe Sport Act. We thank the American Bar Association
, Stop It Now
, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center
for their expert information included,
with permission, in this training program.
Anyone wanting to complete this training may log onto the program's guest book and launch the training module. Take this training on a laptop or desktop using an up-to-date browser. Taking the training on a phone is not advised, as some functionality does not work well on a phone. Be sure to turn of pop-up blockers for BrainShark
before launching the training, or a completion certificate will not be generated. Allow 48-hours for a completion certificate to be emailed to you from the system. RRCA club and event directors can email a link for this training program to volunteers: https://www.brainshark.com/rrca/abuse-awareness-training
. Want to embed the training on your club or event's website? Visit the Member's Only
section where you can download the embed code.
Additional Training Resources:
SafeSport Certification (non-USATF members $20)
Stewards of Children (Bulk registration options ranging from $7-$10)
Abuse Prevention Systems (Inquire with them about costs for organizations)