Gymnastics, like other sports, is meant to be fun and showcase the extraordinary things the human body can achieve. At its best, gymnastics fosters discipline, determination, and teamwork—important life values that last a lifetime. In fact, many gymnasts have gone on to succeed in their personal and professional endeavors after their sports career.
However, the ugly truth is that gymnasts are vulnerable to abuse in various forms, be it bullying, verbal abuse, and sexual harassment. Instead of being in a safe environment without fear or intimidation, these gymnasts are exposed to physical, emotional, and mental traumas.
In the light of recent reports of abuse, the USA Gymnastics has launched its Safe Sport Program. The program, which replaces their Clubs Care and We Care Campaigns, ‘’provides information and guidance on six forms of abuse that occur throughout our society and youth sport’’, according to USA Gymnastics’ website. It also ‘’provides policies, education, a reporting structure, and tools intended to assist our Member Clubs, professional members, athlete parents, and athletes as we work together to promote a safe environment’’.
While USAG has been criticized for turning a blind eye on reported cases of abuse in the past, it is now taking a stronger stance against abuse and inappropriate behavior. In fact, USAG has begun investigating cases that were filed. Here is what you need to know about the Safe Sport Program and why everyone in gymnastics should care.
The launch of USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Program is a joint initiative with the U.S. Center For SafeSport. Launched in 2017, the Center aims to create a safe national sport culture and raise awareness by providing resources and training to prevent abuse. The Center will promote awareness on the following issues:
The Center also provides training opportunities to coaches, gym owners, staff, parents, and athletes.
The Center has a Response and Resolution Office which will investigate and resolve alleged violations of the SafeSport Code for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement’s Governing Bodies. The Office also plans on ‘’aggregating data...which will be used to identify trends and patterns across sport, strengthening national prevention efforts’’.
All individuals, including non-members of USA Gymnastics, are highly encouraged to report directly to the Center in the case of suspected abuse or violation of the SafeSport Code. Anyone found guilty of violating the code is subject to sanctions recommended by the Center. Furthermore, individuals who fail to report violations of the code could be subject disciplinary action.
Abuse has long-lasting negative physical, mental, and emotional impact on anyone who experiences it. Gymnastics—or any sport, for that matter—should not be another avenue for exploitation; rather, it should be a safe haven for all athletes, regardless of race, belief, gender, or age.
Everyone in the gymnastics community plays a vital role in this issue. Whether you’re an athlete, parent, coach, or gym owner, you have the power to stop the cycle of abuse. We fully support USA Gymnastics Safe Sport campaign and its mission to provide a healthy and safe environment for every gymnast.
While this blog post tries to cover the basic information about the Safe Sport Program, USA Gymnastics provides more resources for anyone in the gymnastics community. To learn more about this program, you can check the following resources by clicking on the text below :