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Press Release from Women's Sports Foundation: WFS Responds to Gundersen's When the Athlete is a Child: An Assessment of USA Swimming's Safe Sport Program

31 Jan 2014 10:41 AM | Adrienne Hoffman-Lewis (Administrator)
Adapted from the Press Release dated January 27, 2014:

Today the National Child Protection Training Center at Gundersen released When the Athlete is a Child: An Assessment of USA Swimming’s Safe Sport Program, authored by Victor Vieth, Executive Director Emeritus. The Assessment is an analysis of the efforts USA Swimming has undertaken since the 2010 media reports and ongoing lawsuits exposed a culture of hiding sexual abusers, and recommends dozens of changes to ensure the safety of the 93% of swimmers who are still children.
 
Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Senior Director of Advocacy for the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), worked closely with Mr. Vieth during the research and writing phase of the Assessment, and the WSF served as an official reviewer for the final draft of the Assessment.
 
Sexual, verbal and physical abuse is fundamentally inconsistent with the principles of the Olympic movement and youth serving organizations. While misconduct occurs at all levels of sports, the International Olympic Committee’s research demonstrates that abuse is more likely to exist in elite sport. (IOC, 2007) The Women’s Sports Foundation looks forward to the day when the protections listed in the Assessment are performed routinely, and sport is a safe haven for those participating.   
 
The Assessment recognizes that USA Swimming still has those within its sport that are reluctant to take further steps to protect children. But experts in child protection know well that abusers operate best in organizations that seldom discuss child abuse, either because the topic makes them uncomfortable, or because they do not think it is a sporting organization’s responsibility to protect children from child abusers. The voices advocating for silence or simple solutions must not prevail.

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