skip navigation

Five Tips for Keeping Kids Safe in Youth Sports

01/11/2016, 10:30pm CST
By Kim O'Shea, USA Fencing Safe Sport Coordinator

From USA Swimming, modified for USA Fencing

USA Fencing is working to increase awareness and reduce the risk of abuse in fencing through its Safe Sport Program. With all youth sports, creating a safe environment is the responsibility of all adults who work with kids.

1. Get Educated---Education is the most important tool for combatting 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 signs of grooming behavior and boundary violations and what to do when you suspect a child's safety is at risk.

2. 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 partner. Clubs and youth sport organizations should spell out prohibited behaviors to ensure strong and safe boundaries between adults and athletes.

3. Identify and Address High Risk Areas---For misconduct to take place, an offender needs privacy, access, and control. One way to reduce the risk for abuse is to design strategies for addressing these high-risk areas, which include travel, locker rooms, and electronic communications. Clubs should adopt policies that spell out expectations and create boundaries.

4. Speak Up---If you recognize questionable behaviors, say something! Your youth sports organization could 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 everyone knows that person.

5. 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.


Tag(s): Blog