Response and Management: Combating the Rise of Sexual Harassment

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Photo Courtesy: The "Megyn Kelly TODAY" show

By Olivia McKelvey, Swimming World College Intern.

On October 18, 2017, McKayla Maroney – U.S. Olympic gymnast – went public announcing that she was sexually assaulted by former team physician Lawrence G. Nassar. On January 17, 2018, WNBA All-Star guard Layshia Clarendon filed a civil lawsuit against University of California, alleging she was sexually assaulted by a former athletic department employee. On February 7, 2018, Ariana Kukors – 2012 Olympic swim team member – reported that her former coach, Sean Hutchison, began sexually assaulting her when she was 16.

Photo Courtesy: The Seattle Times

The trend that coined the “me too” movement was a call to action in response to Harvey Weinstein‘s sexual harassment charges in 2017. Since the New York Times reported sexual allegations against the movie mogul, at least 425 prominent figures across all industries: sports, media and entertainment, politics and more have stepped forward against their abusers.

These women in sport and other industries are part of thousands in a sea of voices that have taken a stand against their sexual abusers. Maroney, Claredon and Kukors are not the only ones who have come forward within the past two to three years in regards to sexual harassment. Awareness of these incidents is just the beginning of the process of culture change within sport: strict prevention and appropriate management are the desired results.

USA Swimming is a Leader in Addressing the Issue

SafeSport

USA Swimming is aware of the internal issues youth sports face. While taking responsibility and pinpointing coaches who have partaken in sexual misconduct is one step, another important part of the solution is an emphasis and revision of guidelines, structure and policy.

USA Swimming letter to members from president and CEO Tim Hinchey: “Let me be clear: USA Swimming does not tolerate sexual abuse or misconduct, and I assure you that this organization is facing this extremely serious issue with one very clear goal – protecting children and athletes.” -February 22, 2018

With that being said, below is a list of current policies, rules and regulations within USA Swimming aimed to protect athletes and provide a framework for coaches and other swimming officials to handle the matter correctly:

Other improvements the organization has made over years deserve recognition as well. For example, since 2011, all non-athlete members are required to participate in and renew their athlete protection training every two years. In 2014, USA Swimming reached out to Victor Vieth, executive director of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, and asked him to conduct an independent review of the USA Swimming Safe Sport Program to oversee policies, training programs and all past case files. Vieth’s examination resulted in 54 recommendations. In 2017, USA Swimming released an updated report on Vieth’s review, stating 28 of those recommendations have been implemented in full, and 13 other recommendations were in the progress of being approved to the Safe Sport Code.

The NCAA Has Followed USA Swimming’s Lead

 

 

 

  • Mandated University training for coaches and athletic administrators in regards to education in sexual violence prevention.
  • Sexual Violence Prevention Tool Kit
  • Safe Place Campus Environment: Commission to Combat Sexual Violence 
  • Title IX -Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment or sexual violence, such as rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion.
  • Clery Act – The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act is a federal statute requiring colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs to maintain and disclose campus crime statistics and security information.

The Takeaway

The relationship between coach and athlete must be correctly and explicitly communicated and boundaries must be defined. Parents, coaches, kids should feel safe and comfortable in their training environment. USA Swimming and the NCAA have made great strides to improve upon how it handles sexual harassment. Athletes, coaches, parents and all those reading this: please encourage those around you – not just in sport – to take a stand if they have been sexually abused. If you want to learn more and be part of the solution to stopping sexual abuse within the swimming world, visit https://www.usaswimming.org/Home/safe-sport.

-All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Monica Strzempko

    Still not good enough. The NBOR continues to be a kangaroo court. It does not follow the guidelines of schools or other youth organizations. Victor Veith was supposedly representing my daughter. Even though his guidelines were not followed in the NBOR, the coach was not banned.