On May 18, U.S. Equestrian Federation President Murray Kessler and CEO Bill Moroney released the following letter to membership about current Safe Sport updates.
Dear USEF Members,
As you know, Safe Sport has been a topic of national conversation recently, and we take this issue very seriously. USEF has been proactive for several years under the leadership of our General Counsel Sonja Keating to develop and implement Safe Sport programs, and today we wanted to share with you additional steps we are taking to ensure our children and young athletes are safe while practicing and competing in the sport they love.
Expanding Mandatory Requirements for Safe Sport Training
Currently, Safe Sport training is required for designated individuals including persons that the USEF formally authorizes, approves or appoints to a position of authority over athletes or have frequent contact with athletes. At the June meeting, the US Equestrian Board of Directors will consider expanding this rule to require mandatory Safe Sport training for all participants at USEF licensed competitions. Safe Sport training is done online with the initial course taking approximately 90 minutes and the refresher course required annually taking approximately 30 minutes. This would be a personal responsibility rule and compliance would be done by US Equestrian and not by competitions.
Newly Created Safe Sport USEF Staff Position
US Equestrian has recently hired a staff member dedicated to all elements of our Safe Sport program including education, communication and compliance.
New Training Resources for Parents and Participants
It is essential that all members educate themselves regarding Safe Sport. Not only to understand when and how to report but also to recognize the signs in order to prevent abuse before it occurs. To further your education and participation in this movement, USEF provides numerous Safe Sport Initiative resources on our website at usef.org including the following:
•Safe Sport Training which is free to members! Three modules that take just under 90 minutes to complete initially, with refresher training (currently voluntary).
•New resources developed by the Center, and designed specifically for parents of equestrian athletes of all ages are available on our website. The training video is free. Parent toolkits are available too for parents of preschool age children, middle school age children, school age children, and high school aged adolescents.
•A banned list that identifies the person by name and reason for their ban.
•The U.S. Center for Safe Sport has partnered with RAINN to provide a 24-hour victim services hotline, reached at 1.866.200.0796.
Know the New Federal Legislation Reporting Requirements –they impact you
In addition to the resources offered by the U.S. Center for SafeSport and US Equestrian, it is extremely important you are aware of legislation that passed on February 14, 2018, Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017. It requires amateur sports organizations and its members to report sex-abuse allegations to the U.S. Center for Safe Sport and to local or federal law enforcement, within 24 hours of such knowledge. Failure to do so is a crime.
Bully, Harassment and Unsportsmanlike Behavior
Not all misconduct is sexual. Bullying, harassment and unsportsmanlike behavior are also violations of our Safe Sport policy and unacceptable. All reports will be properly investigated and appropriate measures taken should those investigations result in a finding of a violation.
Under the Safe Sport policy, bullying and harassment are defined as follows:
•Bullying – Repeated and/or severe (a) aggressive behavior (b) among Minors, (c) that is intended or likely to hurt, control, or diminish another person emotionally, physically, or sexually. Such misconduct between adults does not constitute bullying; the conduct must be directed toward someone under 18 years of age to be actionable as bullying under the Center’s Code or our Safe Sport Policy.
•Harassment – Repeated and/or severe conduct that (a) causes fear, humiliation or annoyance; (b) offends or degrades; (c) creates a hostile environment; or (d) reflects discriminatory bias in an attempt to establish dominance, superiority or power over an individual athlete or group based on age, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, national origin, or mental or physical disability; or (e) any act or conduct described as harassment under federal or state law. Whether conduct is harassing depends on the totality of the circumstances, including the nature, frequency, intensity, location, context, and duration of the behavior.
Sexual and non-sexual misconduct have two distinct reporting processes:
•All sexual misconduct should be reported directly to the U.S. Center for SafeSport by phone at 720-524-5640 or online at www.safesport.org.
•All non-sexual misconduct or violations of the Safe Sport Policy should be reported directly to US Equestrian. Reports through USEF can be submitted using the USEF Incident Report Form, or by email or phone to Sonja Keating, General Counsel, email@example.com, 859-225-2045, Sarah Gilbert, firstname.lastname@example.org, 859-225-2022, or Emily Pratt, email@example.com, 859-225-6956.
Both the U.S. Center for SafeSport and USEF will accept anonymous reports, but please note that it can be very difficult to investigate anonymous complaints.
USEF is dedicated to bringing the joy of horse sports to as many people as possible and part of that joy is making sure you have the resources available to assist you in making safe choices for our children. In the same way that our members look to USEF, USEF looks to the Center for the answers to our questions so that we do all we can to make your experience safe and fulfill our responsibilities as an NGB.
Please contact Sonja Keating in our legal department for all Safe Sport inquiries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions or need assistance.