USA Swimming is committed to fostering a fun, healthy, and safe environment for all of its members. For that reason, we have in place a detailed Code of Conduct. Safe Sport also provides policies, education, a reporting structure, and tools that are intended to serve our members as we work together to maintain this environment. The Safe Sport program offers:
- Online and In-person training for parents, athletes, coaches, and officials
- Policies for electronic communication, team travel, anti-bullying, and locker room monitoring
- Ways to report Code of Conduct violations and inappropriate behavior
- Educational resources on topics such as healthy personal boundaries, bullying, appropriate social media activity, and managing peer-to-peer conflict
Education is the most important tool for combating misconduct. Look for resources that can help you understand how abuse occurs and what you can do about it. You should be able to recognize the signs of grooming behavior and boundary violations and what to do when you suspect a child's safety is at risk.
Create Healthy Boundaries
It's important to establish healthy boundaries between athletes and coaches and have clear expectations about the coach's role. A coach can often serve as a teacher, a mentor, or a role model for a young person. A coach is not an athlete's friend, peer or romantic parter. Teams and youth sport organizations should spell out prohibited behaviors to ensure strong and safe boundaries between adults and athletes.
Identify and Address High Risk Areas
For misconduct to take place, an offender needs privacy, access, and control. One way to reduce risk for abuse is to design strategies for addressing these high-risk areas, which should include travel, locker rooms, and electronic communications. Teams should adopt policies that spell out expectations and create boundaries.
If you recognize questionable behaviors, say something! Your youth sports organization should designate someone - a coach, the team administration, or a parent advocate - who is there to hear your concerns or take a report of inappropriate behavior. Make sure that everyone knows that person.
Talk to Your Kids
Physical and sexual misconduct can be a hard topic for parents to talk about with their children. Having these conversations is extremely important in helping prevent your child from becoming a victim of abuse. Having ongoing and open conversations with children about their bodies and appropriate boundaries will make it easier for them to talk to you if anyone is making them feel uncomfortable.