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SafeSport: Keeping you in the Loop

03/14/2019, 3:45pm CDT
By Suzie Riewald, USA Fencing SafeSport Coordinator

USA Fencing is committed to keeping its clubs and individual members informed of SafeSport updates and compliance changes. We want to make sure our members and member clubs have the information to ensure that we are working together to provide an environment free of misconduct.

Federal Law Influences SafeSport Requirements

Are you familiar with the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017? Please review this information as it is driving some of the changes we are seeing in SafeSport. In part, it states that National Governing Bodies, including USA Fencing, must:

  • Comply with reporting requirements of sexual abuse and/or misconduct involving a minor;
  • Establish reasonable procedures to limit one-on-one interactions between a minor athlete and adult;
  • Provide training to adult members who have regular contact with minor athletes; and
  • Prohibit retaliation.

Federal law authorizes the U.S. Center for SafeSport to develop training, policies and procedures to prevent abuse, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, of any amateur athlete. This training, policies and procedures are then implemented by NGBs. 

Annual Requirement for SafeSport Training

As you are know, online SafeSport training has been required every two years for Coach and +CheckEd members. The requirement will change to annually as we begin the 2019-20 membership year on Aug. 1, 2019. In January 2018, USA Fencing began offering the three-module ‘core’ SafeSport course that addressed sexual misconduct awareness training, emotional and physical misconduct, and mandatory reporting. Members who are required to complete SafeSport training must complete this core course. A refresher course will be required on an annual basis effective the calendar year following the completion of the core course. The refresher course will be available through your USA Fencing membership profile.

Changes to our SafeSport Policy

The current USA Fencing SafeSport Policy contains proactive policies put in place to assist in reducing the risk of potential abuse. Effective June 2019, these proactive policies will be replaced by the Minor Athlete Abuse Prevention Policy (MAAPP). This updated policy will address the following:

  1. One-on-one interactions, including meetings and lessons (USA Fencing is required to establish procedures to limit one-on-one interactions, as set forth by federal law).
  2. Massages and rubdowns/athletic training modalities (medical treatment)
  3. Locker rooms and changing areas
  4. Social media and electronic communications
  5. Local travel
  6. Team travel

While many of these should look familiar to you as they are similar to our current proactive policies, the details and requirements within each policy have important and, in some instances, significant changes. Prior to the MAAPP taking effect in June, USA Fencing will provide education and resources to facilitate the implementation of the policies within clubs. Violations of the MAAPP are reportable offenses, so we want to ensure members and clubs are fully apprised.

Updated Codes of Conduct

USA Fencing recently updated our Codes of Conduct, which are now available on our website (Codes of Conduct). These include Coach, Member and Spectator Codes of Conduct. Why did we update the codes, you ask? USA Fencing wanted to set the bar for appropriate behavior on and off the strip rather than assuming everyone knows what is and isn’t appropriate behavior. These Codes of conduct provide boundaries and expectations for behavior; behavior that will help ensure a positive and safe environment at our USA Fencing clubs and events. With clear boundaries, expectations and requirements related to appropriate and inappropriate behavior, club, staff, officials and others can more effectively manage the environment. Be sure to educate yourself and others regarding – post the Codes in your club, talk to parents or discuss it with fencers.

Black Cards

In an effort to better understand inappropriate behavior at our USA Fencing sanctioned events, USA Fencing's Ethics Committee will be reviewing all black cards issued at sanctioned events. A review of black Cards will provide insight into the types of behavior that elicits black cards and assist the group in deciding if policy changes are needed to help create a more safe, secure, positive environment for all participants.

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