Safe4Athletes Handbook revised March 2013
The purpose of this publication is to provide any local sports club with a turnkey program containing the basic policies, procedures, forms, guidelines and educational materials that will enable the club to immediately install a management system that advances athlete safety and welfare. Each document contained in this Handbook is available as a free download in Word format on the Safe4Athletes.org Web site, so it can be customized with the name of the club and appropriate club staff and contact information.
Complaint Process. The Club recognizes how difficult it may be for an athlete or parent to report a coach or staff/volunteer offense because of fear of retaliation against the athlete or his/her family or subjecting a young athlete to an adversarial or hostile examination process. Similarly, coaches and staff must be assured of notice of allegations, a fair hearing and protection from frivolous complaints. Thus, the following mechanisms have been put in place to establish an appropriate fact-finding and hearing process to be utilized for any complaint.
Attached please find a copy of an important club policy, “Club Philosophy and Policies Governing Professional Coaching Conduct and the Conduct of all Athletes, Employees and Volunteers.” The purpose of this policy is to define in a very clear way inappropriate coach, sport leader and athlete participant conduct and the Club’s commitment to protect the safety and well-being of athletes. The policy defines important terms and concepts such as bully, hazing, initiation rituals, physical punishment, sexual harassment, verbal and emotional abuse, etc. Please let us know if you have any questions.
It is important that an athlete “respect” their coach (teammates, staff and volunteers), but sometimes, they act in ways that can be harmful and hurtful to young athletes.
It is important for every athlete to understand what is unacceptable behavior and when to reach out to an adult to ask for help and guidance.
Guidelines for the Ethics Panel: Judging a Misconduct Complaint
Being a member of the Ethics Panel if asked is an important responsibility. Situations that may endanger the safety and well being of our children do arise, albeit infrequently. When they do, they must be dealt with promptly and fairly. Our Club has a complaint processing procedure which is detailed in Section 13 of “Club Philosophy and Policies Governing Professional Coaching Conduct and the Conduct of all Athletes, Employees and Volunteers.” You should familiarize yourself with this document.
Volunteering to be Fact Finder when asked by the Club President is an important responsibility. Situations that may endanger the safety and well being of our children do arise, albeit infrequently. When they do, they must be dealt with promptly and fairly. Both the complaining party and the alleged offender need to be treated fairly. At the heart of fair treatment is an unbiased determination of the facts by an appointed Fact Finder. The following guidelines should be followed during the investigation process. First read the following club documents:
You are an important person for any athlete who needs help thinking through and talking about a distressful situation. Our club cares about the safety and welfare of all participants and hopes that any athlete who may be the victim of abuse -- whether it is sexual, bullying, harassment or other improper misconduct by a coach, peer, parent, volunteer or staff member -- feels safe enough to contact you. The athlete should feel as though they have come to a person who will provide athlete-centered, supportive help. With this athlete assistance focus in mind, the AWA must be open to gaining the confidence of the athlete and developing a trusting relationship that will encourage factual, honest, and open dialogue. Keep in mind that you are the advocate for the athlete and your purpose is to hear the concern and then act on behalf of the athlete by working with others in the club to develop a resolution
Sample Letter: Notice to Person Alleged to Engage in Misconduct
Following is a sample memo from the Club President to the person alleged to have engaged in misconduct, when it has been determined that resolution of the complaint to the satisfaction of the complainant is either not possible or inappropriate. Insert appropriate information as noted and send with a copy of the Club policy. A copy should be given to the Athlete Welfare Advocate and the complainant.
MODEL ATHLETE COMPLAINT FORM
INSTRUCTIONS: To file a formal complaint, please fill out this form completely and submit it to the Athlete Welfare Advocate of our Club. If you need help completing the form, or want to discuss the issue before completing the complaint form, please contact either of our Athlete Welfare Advocates for a meeting: