Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Empire Responds Back: USA Swimming pledges more safeguards in wake of sex abuse scandal but are they enough?

USA Swimming recently wrote an open letter to the USA Swimming community stating that policy changes are being made so as to ensure that swimming with a USA Swimming sanctioned team is safe activity or as safe as it can be.

Generally speaking, these policy changes are all about back ground checks and anonymous reporting. However, one has to ask, how many Catholic priests accused of child molestation well after the fact and in some cases decades later would have been detected with a back ground check?

The answer is probably zero!

From Mercury News:

Under fire for its handling of sex abuse allegations and screening of coaches, USA Swimming, the national governing body of the sport, said it plans a series of steps to make swim clubs safer for its young athletes, possibly including an anonymous reporting system to encourage scared victims to come forward.

The plan laid out for the San Jose Mercury News on Monday is far stronger than the two-page open letter to the swimming community posted on USA Swimming's Web site last week, but some critics say the steps still are not enough to protect impressionable young girls from predator coaches.


I feel like a broken record here but I believe the Boy Scouts have it right in regards to child and scout leader protection. Below are some modifications I made to the Boy Scouts policy which I believe any club should consider even if the USA Swimming leadership is too afraid to admit that their policies did not go far enough:

Two-deep leadership: Two registered adult leaders or one registered leader and a parent of a participant, one of whom must be 21 years of age or older, are required on all trips and outings. The chartered organization is responsible for ensuring that sufficient leadership is provided for all activities.

No one-on-one contact: One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is not permitted. In situations that require personal conferences, such as a Scoutmaster's conference, the meeting is to be conducted in view of other adults and youths.

Respect of privacy: Adult leaders must respect the privacy of youth members in situations such as changing clothes and taking showers at camp, and intrude only to the extent that health and safety require. Adults must protect their own privacy in similar situations.

No secret organizations: The Boy Scouts of America does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program. All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders.

Appropriate attire: [...] skinny-dipping is not appropriate as part of [USA swimming].

Constructive discipline: [...] Corporal punishment is never permitted.

Hazing prohibited: Physical hazing and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any [swimming] activity.

Junior leader training and supervision: Adult leaders must monitor and guide the leadership techniques used by junior leaders and ensure that [USA Swimming] policies are followed.

Actual Boy Scouts of America policy [Link]

The photo above was shot by William Walsh and I have usage rights.


Chris DeSantis said...

Tony anecdotally I would say a majority of coaches would put up the biggest stink about having to be observed. In my opinion, this would not only better protect our swimmers from sexual abuse but all forms of abuse- Coaches have gotten along with psychologically damaging their athletes in the name of faster swimming for far too long.

Tony Austin said...

Wow! you have keen insight. I never thought of that.

Ahelee said...

Agree with Chris. The abuse on deck and off is far beyond sexual abuse. As if that alone isn't bad enough.

But I do commend USA Swimming for making a crack at this huge issue. It is no joke to lay out a serious problem such as this on the home page of a sport for kids.
Its a marketing nightmare.

Everyone knows it has to be faced. No doubt.
I do appreciate the fear it strikes in those trying to build the sport.
But they can't hide it any longer.

And WE need to keep asking the questions and encouraging the athletes, coaches, parents and friends to "REPORT".

Even when it seems subtle, there is concern or you're in doubt... REPORT.