USA Swimming: A Lesson in Communication

May 6, 2010
By Dan Baum

As many of you know, a number of child abuse cases associated with USA Swimming were recently revealed.  Like you, we at Redwoods feel deeply for the victims and their families, as we continue to work on preventing these tragic events.  One of our more recent efforts has been an exciting partnership in which the State Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs, The Redwoods Group Foundation and Darkness To Light, a terrific abuse prevention organization, have collaborated to develop statewide child protection guidelines and implementation tools, for all of the YMCAs in Massachusetts.  In addition to providing a great model that we can replicate elsewhere, this partnership has also reinforced our belief that abuse prevention is truly a community issue

JIM EVERETT’S EXCELLENT NOTE

That’s why we were so impressed by the post written by Jim Everett, the CEO of the Treasure Valley Family YMCA, to the parents of his YMCA’s swim team.  Please take a quick read through Jim’s note here: Message from CEO Jim Everett.

Rather than hiding this story, we can follow Jim’s lead and find the moral courage to openly discuss this difficult topic, with the hopes of engaging our parents and community in prevention.  We think that Jim’s excellent note can serve as a template for other leaders who want to start a discussion in their communities.  So, we have modified it into a draft that you can customize to fit your association.  If you have any questions about how to share this information, or about any of the abuse prevention strategies mentioned, including the above partnership which is soon to be replicated by the YMCAs in New Jersey, please let us know. 

TEMPLATE FOR SHARING

USA Swimming Commentary Template

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

As always, we at The Redwoods Group are happy to help you implement any of these child protection steps, so please don’t hesitate to contact us.  For more information about the strategies contained in this post, please look to the following information:

Our comprehensive abuse prevention plan and best practices guide covers the prevention steps you can put in place to protect the children you serve: YMCA Sample Abuse Prevention Plan

If you currently do not have an abuse prevention feedback system in place, this brochure can be shared with your parents and members.  It covers some basic guidelines for staff behavior and asks parents to report any violations they notice: (YMCA Sample Brochure: http://www.redwoodsgroup.com/YMCA/YMCA_ChildSafeEnvironmentBrochure.docJCC Sample Brochure: http://www.redwoodsgroup.com/JCCs/RiskManagement/JCO_ChildSafeEnvironmentBrochure.doc)

Darkness To Light has a number of community abuse prevention resources, some of which are outlined in our template.  Visit their website to learn more about the information they have available: http://www.darkness2light.org

Praesidium Inc. does a lot of great work in abuse prevention and helped us with some of the talking points in our template.  You can find out more about them and their work here: http://www.praesidiuminc.com/

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