Safe Sport Authorization Act - Protecting Young Athletes
Safe Sport

Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse with the Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017

The following press release regarding “Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017,” which is new federal legislation signed into law effective Feb. 14, 2018 has been widely distributed this past week via various soccer organizations such as US Club SoccerUnited Soccer Coaches and others.

United Soccer Coaches has been working via a grant with Raliance to develop a variety of online and in-person education resources related to the prevention of sexual abuse and assault.  The Soccer Parenting Association will notify you when these resources from United Soccer Coaches are available.

The U.S. Soccer Federation’s statement is below and it applies to all U.S. Soccer members as well as parents and other relevant parties.

This summary is not intended to supplant the need to review the statute.  This letter is not intended to provide legal advice.

On Feb. 14, 2018, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 was signed into law and became effective immediately. The legislation is available for download here. The U.S. Center for SafeSport has released a fact sheet about the legislation, and here is a video PSA about the Center.

In addition to the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s fact sheet, which provides information regarding the entire law, here is additional detail on the specific mandatory reporting of child abuse requirements included in the new legislation:

  • The bill amends the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to extend the duty to report suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse, within 24 hours to all adults who are authorized to interact with minor or amateur athletes by a national governing body, a member of a national governing body, or an amateur sports organization that participates in interstate or international amateur athletic competition. These individuals are called “covered individuals” in the new legislation.
  • Child abuse is defined as physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, or negligent treatment of a child.
  • Per current federal regulations, reports of child abuse should be made to the local law enforcement agency or local child protective services agency that has jurisdiction to investigate reports of child abuse or to protect child abuse victims or to the FBI. These regulations have not yet been updated to reflect the recent change in the law. Until such time as the regulations are updated, U.S. Soccer will make reports to (1) local law enforcement where any alleged incident took place to the extent it can be determined and the incident occurred in the United States, (2) local law enforcement where the victim resides if different than (1), and (3) the FBI.
  • An individual who is required, but fails, to report suspected child sexual abuse is subject to criminal penalties including fines and up to one year in jail.
  • These obligations are in addition to any state law requirements that an individual may have in a particular jurisdiction.

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As stated above, you are required to report suspected child abuse within 24 hours to the local law enforcement agency or local child protective services agency that has jurisdiction to investigate reports of child abuse or to protect child abuse victims or to the FBI.

Additionally, please also communicate the report to the U.S. Soccer integrity hotline at https://www.ussoccer.com/integrity-hotline or (312) 528-7004 and the U.S. Center for SafeSport at https://safesport.org/report-a-concern. Reporting to the U.S. Soccer integrity hotline and the U.S. Center for SafeSport is not a substitute for reporting to law enforcement, child protective services, and/or the FBI.

Here are some other resources you’re encouraged to browse:

  • SafeSport.org is not only a medium to make a child abuse report, but it also has numerous fact sheets, articles, downloadable graphics, and resources.
  • “Safer, Smarter Kids” – of Lauren’s Kids – creates abuse prevention education for elementary-aged children. Here is a parent toolkit that encourages conversations between parents and children by leading families through sample scenarios.
  • ChildHelp.org operates a 24-hour national child abuse hotline, as well as programs for prevention, intervention and treatment.

About the Author Skye Eddy Bruce

Founder, SoccerParenting.com Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF “B” License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.

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