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Reaffirming Conversations

05/10/2018, 5:00pm CDT
By Suzie Riewald, USA Fencing SafeSport Coordinator

Like many of you, I’m sure, I find it is easy to get so caught up in deadlines, to-do lists, emails and tasks of the day to day that I lose sight of where I’m going. As the SafeSport coordinator at USA Fencing, our SafeSport mission tells me, in part, the end goal is “creating a safe and positive environment for athletes’ physical, emotional and social development, and to ensuring that it promotes an environment free of misconduct.”

I have had several conversations and correspondences recently that provide feedback to suggest we are working toward our mission. I want to share these with you as it may prompt you to think of things you can do or need to do to create a safe and positive environment at clubs and competitions:

  • A coach called and asked to talk through travel options for a minor fencer who would be traveling without his parents. She noted that they have come up with a couple of options that aim to prevent the minor having one-on-one time with adults in non-public places, such as putting together an itinerary for the parents and integrating teammates. The coach and parents wanted to ensure they were creating a SafeSport environment for the fencer. Wow! They are certainly “doing right” by this fencer by placing his safety and well-being as a priority. It is my hope and goal that such a “SafeSport filter” is in place for all our members as we structure the training and competitive environments for our fencers. While at times it may seem burdensome, keeping the end goal in mind places things in perspective. Like this individual, reach out if you have questions or refer to our USA Fencing SafeSport Policy for guidance.
  • A parent reached out as his daughter, who is a referee, turns 18 this fall: “What does she need to do in regard to SafeSport so she can continue to referee?” This brought a smile to my face. Members need to be similarly proactive and aware of the SafeSport requirements AND of individual standing in terms of background screen and SafeSport training. Coach and +CheckEd members must comply with SafeSport requirements and have varied expiration dates that occur throughout the calendar year with the expiration date occurring two years after your last background check and SafeSport training. Check SafeSport training and background screen expiration dates in your member profile and make a note in your calendar. While USA Fencing members will get a reminder email 30 and 15 days prior to expiration, having time blocked off on a specific day to complete the training will be a great prompt to doing it. Remember the end goal: It is not about checking the box. It is about working to ensure a safe and healthy environment that is free of misconduct for our fencers. Getting a background screen and gaining knowledge and tools through the SafeSport training will help in this effort.
  • Not too long ago, I received an email from a parent saying he heard about SafeSport for the first time during a meeting at his child’s fencing club. He was reaching out as he wanted to learn more about SafeSport, so I directed him to the USA Fencing SafeSport webpage. From my conversation with him, I gleaned several things. One, it is important to talk about SafeSport at our clubs and competitions. We need to work to make people aware as this is a necessary step toward creating a SafeSport environment. Two, I need to make sure resources and educational materials are available for members. To that end, the USA Fencing SafeSport page has material for parents, coaches, clubs and athletes as a starting point. Additionally, the U.S. Center for SafeSport recently launched a free online SafeSport course for parents called Parent’s Guide to Misconduct in Sport, so check it out. The inquisitive spirit of this parent that then prompted action is noteworthy. A lesson for us all to keep our eye on the end goal.

These are great examples of members doing the “right thing” in terms of our SafeSport mission. I challenge each of you to reflect on what you can do to create a SafeSport environment, one that is free of misconduct in our clubs and at our events.

Tag(s): SafeSport