The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and SafeSport Authorization Act of 2017, was signed into law in February 2018. Since its passage, real change has been slow as many youth sports programs lack the tools to accomplish the rule’s goals.
Amending two federal statutes, the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 and the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, the new rule:
- Extends reporting duties. Authorized adults interacting with a minor or amateur athlete at a facility under the jurisdiction of a national governing body, are now required to report suspected child abuse - including child sexual abuse - within 24 hours, or are subject to criminal penalties of up to a year in jail.
- Extends the statute of limitations. A minor who is the victim of a federal sex offence now has up to 10 years to file civil action (up from three years), from the date the individual reaches 18.
- Designates the United States Center for SafeSport to develop policies and procedures for rule enforcement. These new policies and procedures must include: the creation of a mechanism that allows for easy reporting, procedures to prohibit retaliation and limit one-on-one interactions between a minor athlete and an adult, oversight audits and consistent training for youth sports organizations.
Organizations working to meet the new rule will want to consider the following 5-step checklist:
- Mandate awareness training for coaches and parents. Educate coaches and parents to recognize the red flags of abuse. Learning the warning signs will both improve the identification of abuse, and aid in prevention efforts. Require training for all staff, coaches and parents at least annually.
- Mandate awareness training for minors, with parental consent. The amateur athlete also needs to be educated on the organization’s policies and procedures when it comes to abuse. Provide an easy way for kids to report abuse, and offer training at the beginning of each new sport season.
- Establish a reporting system. To be in compliance with the new 24-hour reporting rule, incidences of child abuse must be “easily reported.” Consider contracting with an electronic abuse reporting system, or creating an internal system that can be tested and implemented effectively.
- Run Background checks. While it seems obvious, not every youth sports organization is doing background checks. Make sure that all adults working with children under your organization’s umbrella have been screened. There are a number of online, local and national businesses that provide these services without a significant expense.
- Publish policies/procedures. Distribute all policies and procedures to staff, administrators and volunteer coaches. Post them inside your practice facilities and arenas for all to see.
Contact your HUB Entertainment and Sports Specialist for more information on maintaining ongoing compliance with the new rule, and meeting the appropriate duty of care for your athletes and their families.