1996 USA Gymnastics Olympic Gold Medalist - "As a longtime advocate for the safety of athletes, I’m a proud supporter of this organization. Thanks to their terrific work and mission, no athlete should ever be afraid to speak up again.” " MORE ON DOMINIQUE
Advocates for athlete welfare -- where every athlete is provided a safe and positive environment free of abuse, bullying and harassment. OUR HISTORY
5 Time National Team Member, 2 Time World Championship Team Member, 1985 US National Champion, 1987 Pan Am Games Champion, USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame Member. MORE ON SABRINA
MAKE SPORT SAFE4ATHLETES
As is true about the origins of many not-for-profit organizations, Safe4Athletes was born out of the personal experience of its founder, Katherine Starr.
Advocates for athlete welfare -- where every athlete is provided a safe and positive environment free of abuse, bullying and harassment. WHAT WE DO
SURVIVORS SPEAK OUT
Elite athletes share their stories on abuse, bullying and harassment that plagued their athletic careers. READ OUR STORIES
WENDY LIAN WILLIAMS
Olympic Bronze Medalist 1988, World Cup Champion 1989, 5 Time US National Champion, NCAA Champion and Diver of the Year. MORE ON WENDY
The world of sports has been riddled with sexual abuse and harassment of young athletes by their powerful and publicly respected coaches (respected for producing performance results) for many decades, across all sports, regardless of sex. While there is no consistently collected data on the prevalence of these transgressions, there is reason to believe that news reports and limited data from national sport governing bodies represent the proverbial “tip of the iceberg”.
You don’t have to be an outspoken activist or be in a position of power.It is important to act in ways that are comfortable for your personality, to follow your passion for social justice, and to do things that fit your personal limitations of time or resources.
Here are some ideas that might fit YOU!
1. RECOMMEND A LOCAL SPORT CLUB TO ADOPT A SAFE4ATHLETES POLICY Print out the Safe4Athletes brochure and Why Sport Clubs Need an Athlete Welfare Policy. Schedule a meeting with the President of the local club to discuss whether this person would like to learn more about this issue. Direct them to the Safe4Athletes.org web site to get more information. Check back several weeks later to see if the club plans to take action to adopt such a policy. (SEE OTHERS CLUBS THAT RECOMMEND SAFE4ATHLETES)
2. TALK TO ATHLETES AT A SPORT CLUB Volunteer to talk to athletes at a sports club to make sure they understand how important it is to report misconduct by coaches or other athletes. First find out from the club who they should contact to report such concerns. Use the What Every Athlete Should Know Safe4Athletes publication as a summary of the points you should cover.
3. EMAIL, TEXT MESSAGE OR DISCUSS THE ISSUE WITH YOUR ATHLETE OR PARENT FRIENDS The first step in confronting any issue to talking about it. Use social media to ask your friends whether they think this is an issue and whether they would like to join you in approaching your sports club to do something about it. Encourage them to check out the Safe4Athletes.org web site to learn more about the issue.
4. WRITE TO YOUR NATIONAL SPORT GOVERNING BODY (NGB) Check the Safe4Athletes web site to see if the national sport governing body (USA Archery, USA Softball, etc.) in your sport has an Athlete Protection Officer or staff member responsible for handling parent or athlete concerns about coach misconduct. If not, write to your NGB to ask that they establish such a staff position, adopt a strong policy on coaches professional conduct and publish the names of coaches banned for misconduct.
5. SHARE YOUR STORY If you are comfortable sharing your story of being the victim of abuse, write your story and try to suggest to athletes or parents who might read it how they might act if faced with a similar situation. Or explain how you were successful in getting your sports club to address this issue. Don’t use your name. Carefully follow instructions on the Safe4Athletes.org Tell Your Story area of the web site.
6. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME TO WORK FOR SAFE4ATHLETES Sometimes Safe4Athletes has projects (i.e., surveys, research projects, writing articles, etc.) that volunteers can help accomplish. Email info@Safe4Athletes to volunteer.
7. VOLUNTEER TO BE AN ‘ATHLETE WELFARE ADVOCATE’ AT YOUR SPORT CLUB An “Athlete Welfare Advocate” is a volunteer responsible for listening to any athlete complaint or expression of concern and determining how to best address this concern in the best interest of the athlete. The role of the AWA is to act on behalf of the athlete to ensure the athlete’s safety, recognizing the imbalance of power between participants and adults (coaches and others) who are in positions of authority or that there may be other participants whose actions may be intimidating or threatening to younger or weaker children.
8. IF YOU HAVE NO TIME TO BE AN ACTIVIST, DONATE TO THE CAUSE Safe4Athletes, is a registered public charity, exempt from Federal income taxation under Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code. Your donation can help make a difference by funding: • efforts to provide speakers for national sport organization convention programs addressing this issue • initiatives to communicate directly with local sports clubs and state associations to get them to adopt athlete protection policies • staff to answer the Safe4Athletes “Help Line” • the operation of our web site so we can guarantee free access to all of our model policies and other educational materials
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Safe4Athletes, Inc is a tax-exempt organization pursuant to the Internal Revenue code 501 (c) 3.
2:10 p.m. UPDATE: Local and federal authorities have outlined formal charges against gymnastics coach Marvin L. Sharp, who is accused of having sexual contact with one of his students and for possessing child pornography.
Court documents filed in Marion County Superior Court say Sharp took inappropriate photographs and inappropriately touched a girl on many occasions while he was her gymnastics coach. The girl, who is now 14, told police that Sharp has been touching her inappropriately since she was 12 years old.
The girl told investigators that Sharp frequently told her not to tell her parents about the photo and physical therapy sessions where the inappropriate touching took place, officials said.
The incidents took place at the Sharp's business, Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy as well as during an out-of-state trip that the girl and Sharp took together as competitor and coach.
Child pornography files, including thousands of photos, were discovered on computer drives belonging to Sharp during the execution of search warrants on Sharp’s home and Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy, court documents said. Thousands of sexually explicit images of minors were found in a safe in his home and in a file cabinet at his gymnasium. The images showed young boys and girls in sexually explicit poses.