Raising Awareness, Reducing the Risk of Abuse in Youth Sports

Sexual Abuse Awareness Month GraphicApril is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and it puts a brighter spotlight on the issue. We’ve made progress, but there’s more to do to protect our kids from abuse.

Colleges and universities, public and private high schools, parks and recreation departments, YMCAs and youth-serving entities now require everything from background checks to coaching certifications to safety training.

More recently, some organizations, including USA Swimming, provide personal responsibility training that covers topics such as coach/athlete relationships, sexual harassment and abuse, and appropriate behavioral boundaries between adults and minors.

These are necessary steps to protect our children from the dangers of abuse and sexual assault.

One victim is one too many. Youth-serving organizations are embracing ever-widening roles and accepting social responsibilities far beyond what might have been imagined 10 years ago.

For the past five years, USA Swimming has worked to increase awareness to reduce the risk for abuse in the sport through the Safe Sport Program. While we are fortunate to provide wonderful memories and life lessons for our 400,000 members, it’s a heartbreaking truth that victims of abuse often have the opposite experience.

As part of our tireless efforts to reduce the risk for abuse and create a safe environment in swimming, we’ve learned a great deal and we continue to evolve.