Creating a Safer Environment / Preventing Abuse in Sports
posted by: Jim Kelly, COO & VP of Product, Safety Tag
posted on: March 28, 2018
(post also appeared on LinkedIn here)
Most of you are mildly aware of our focus at Safety Tag; this article will help solidify what we do…
The official mission of Safety Tag is to ‘Create a Safer Environment’ for each of our customers, and we do this through the use of our technology platform, our consultative services, and the services from an ecosystem of partners with like-minded focus. We provide our product & services to participants in Athletics, Schools, Facilities, and various other organizations. We are realistic in the mission of our company and that of our technology platform – we can only prevent so much, but we are certain we can positively impact the outcomes of incidents & accidents that do occur, and that is just as critical.
I am proud to work each day to try to improve these environments, to provide services that can reduce the frequency of these incidents, and can decrease the severity of their impacts. My vision is to eradicate these problems, but for the gross acts that cannot be prevented regardless of preventative measures, there are clear solutions to facilitate the appropriate responses and avoid the systemic breakdowns that occurred leaving broken futures for too many, and we exist to be sure those solutions become commonplace.
I am proud to share that my company, Safety Tag, is among a coalition of service providers focused on improving this situation. Together we offer a suite of services with a common mission in working with these Sports Organizations, Schools, YMCAs, etc. Our suite of services includes:
- Sexual Abuse Prevention Training
- Abuse Response Procedures
- Incident Reporting / Notifications
- Safety Profiles
- Audit Trails / Paper Trails
- Background Checks
- Age Verification
- Specialized Insurance Programs
Recent headlines involving participants in Gymnastics, Swimming, & Volleyball (inevitably with others to come) have been disturbing…but these failures, and the lifelong damage being tolerated toward young women & young men, CAN BE PREVENTED.
As a rule these days, we take every precaution to prevent concussions, and go to extreme measures to accelerate our children’s advancement in school, club, or league sports. But we are overlooking equivalent – and often simpler – means to prevent child abuse. The headlines we are familiar with included embarrassing common themes:
- The abuse was allowed
- Complaints were ignored
- Complaints were discounted, or coerced to seem “less severe”
- Victims were convinced not to report incidents
- Victims became reluctant to report incidents due to leadership’s lack of support, and/or due to the daunting reputation of the predator
USA Swimming: Article link
USA Gymnastics: Article link
US Volleyball: Article link
To further underscore the need for compliance, Monday (3/26/18) a Dean at Michigan State University was arrested and faces criminal charges for his role in the US Gymnastics catastrophe, in which he has described those crude acts as “misunderstandings”, or lack of “common sense”… here is more about his outrageous story: Article Link
Again, this abuse of power could have been prevented through simple means…
If these were breaches of credit card data or personal medical data there would be continuous headlines about the executives involved, calls for action to Congress, and specific measures to be taken to “reclaim identities”, etc. While headlines prevailed during the trial of Dr. Nasser, the recent disgrace resulting in lifetimes of torture and torment for the victims far more damaging than a hit to a Credit Score, have mostly passed by, leaving the outcomes to be dealt with only by those close to the victims. This CANNOT continue.
As the father of four (3 girls & a boy), I support any logical solutions to prevent these systemic failures from happening again. I applaud the victims who recently confronted, and successfully convicted, Dr. Nasser; the horror they live with is not solely due to his predatory nature, but could have been prevented if they or their loved ones had a more direct way to report what occurred in a discretionary & productive manner, and if the organizations involved took measures to train their staff on how to respond, how to recognize the signs, and fostered an environment where this is not tolerated. Solutions do exist to address this – and need to be adopted by these organizations.
On the heels of the headlines of the Dr. Nasser case, a new federal law introducing requirements to prevent Sexual Abuse for Participants in Sports Organizations was quietly passed into law… On February 12, 2018, President Trump signed the Act into law requiring Sport Organizations to take specific measures to avoid these actions. Click Here for a summary of this Act. The new Law makes it a criminal offense to ignore these details; before, a youth sports club was able to hire a coach with a history of child abuse with no law-defined penalty. Now there are defined rules and penalties, and the services exist to help you comply with this Law…
My vision is that we can prevent these acts from occurring within the organizations where our children learn the confidence to succeed, though if we cannot fully prevent them then the law should be facilitated so when these situations do occur there is a reliable & transparent service in place to handle the situation – not one that allows the organization to hide.
I implore you to urge the Youth Sports Organizations you are affiliated with – where you entrust the most valuable things in your lives – to explain to you what they are doing to take the proper measures to prevent these horrific acts from occurring. Remind them of this law and what it means if they do NOT take the required steps.
Safety Tag is a technology platform focused on Safety & Compliance in Athletics, Schools, and all related organizations/facilities. We deliver our product and consultative services to help be sure all of our clients are able to achieve our Vision: to Create a Safer Environment.
Jim Kelly is COO & VP of Product, Safety Tag Network, Inc.
If we can help you, please contact me directly, or contact us at Safety Tag: CLICK HERE FOR MORE.