Safe Sports Policies
SAFE ENVIRONMENT/ATHLETE PROTECTION POLICY
Blaze Gymnastics is committed to creating a safe and positive environment for all coaches, staff, volunteers, athletes and parents, as well as, promoting an environment that is free of misconduct. Therefore, the following Policy has been set forth to promote a safe gymnastics environment, both solely and in partnership with other necessary parties, including staff, volunteers, parents, and athletes.
Blaze Gymnastics has “zero tolerance” for abuse, including inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct, in its programs, activities and events. All coaches, staff and volunteers shall abide by and adhere to all Blaze Gymnastics policies, standards, rules, procedures and guidelines pertaining to safe environments/athlete protection.
DEFINITION OF ABUSE
Abuse, including child abuse, is defined in various sources, such as state statutes, case law, sports organization and professional association codes of conduct and training manuals, corporate and business workplace documents and human rights commission materials. Blaze Gymnastics has not adopted any specific definition of abuse; rather, it has chosen to defer to such general sources and definitions for reference and application, depending upon the circumstances. Nonetheless, in general, the following conduct may be considered abusive:
Any physical contact with a participant that intentionally causes the participant to sustain bodily harm, including without limitation striking, hitting, kicking, biting, shaking, shoving, forcing an athlete to train or compete when injured or mandating excessive exercise as a form of punishment.
Any physical contact with a participant that intentionally creates a threat of immediate bodily harm or personal injury.
Giving alcohol or inappropriate drugs to a participant.
Any violation of applicable law.
Physical contact that is reasonably intended to coach, teach or demonstrate a gymnastics skill or to prevent or lessen injury (e.g., spotting, catching) does not constitute physical abuse. Infrequent, non-intentional physical contact particularly that which arises out of error on the part of the gymnast or coach, does not constitute physical abuse.
Rape, incest, fondling, exhibitionism or sexual exploitation.
Any form of sexual contact or inappropriate touching, unwanted physical contact, unwelcome advances or requests for sexual favors.
Any form of wanton or obscene gesturing, lewd remarks or indecent exposure.
Sexual abuse of a minor includes without limitation:
Touching a minor participant for the purpose of causing the sexual arousal or gratification of either person.
A minor participant touching any person, if the touching occurs at the request of or with the consent of such other person, for the sexual arousal or gratification of either person.
Neither consent of the participant to the sexual abuse or contact, mistake as to the participant’s age, nor the fact that the sexual contact did not take place at a gymnastics function is a defense to a complaint of sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse also includes sexual misconduct described in the USA Gymnastics Code of Ethical Conduct, including:
Soliciting or engaging in sexual relations with any minor.
Engaging in any behavior that utilizes the influence of a professional member’s position as coach, judge or administrator to encourage sexual relations with an athlete.
Engaging in sexual harassment by making unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
Any violation of applicable law involving sexual misconduct or child abuse, or that is specifically designed to protect minors.
STANDARDS OF BEHAVIOR
To promote a safe gymnastics environment for Blaze Gymnastics activities and events, and to lessen the likelihood of an abusive situation, coaches, staff and volunteers must adhere to the following Standards of Behavior, as well as, sound teaching and training.
Children are to be supervised at all times, including:
Children who are dropped off early; and
Children who are not picked up immediately after class.
Blaze Gymnastics personnel will never be alone with a child; two adults (one of whom may be a parent) are required to be present at all times.
This includes all travel situations, before and after classes and workouts, “private” lessons, etc.
All interactions (practices, workouts, competitions, lessons, classes, meetings, etc.) with a child shall be observable and interruptible at all times.
Care should be taken to ensure that such physical contact is not invasive of sensitive areas of the body.
Children may only be picked up from Blaze Gymnastics by a parent or other person designated by a parent.
Parents are encouraged to become as active as reasonably possible in the activity/event.
Out-of-program contact with athletes, such as babysitting, tutoring and ride giving, is prohibited.
Gift-giving or providing special favors or privileges to individual athletes is prohibited.
Lap-sitting, tickling, back rubs, wrestling and other incidents of body contact that are inconsistent with the coach-athlete relationship are prohibited.
Provision of alcohol or inappropriate drugs to athletes is prohibited.
Electronic and social media communications with athletes are subject to Blaze Gymnastics’ Electronic Communications Policy.
Travel with and transportation of athletes are subject to Blaze Gymnastics’ Team Travel Policy.
Safety in the locker rooms/restrooms is subject to Blaze Gymnastics’ Locker Room/Restrooms Policy.
Any suspected violation of this policy or Blaze Gymnastics’ other safe environment/athlete protection-related policies, standards, rules, procedures and guidelines should be reported and will be addressed pursuant to Blaze Gymnastics’ Reporting Policy. Violations could result in progressive discipline up to and including immediate termination.
A copy of this policy shall be placed in conspicuous locations in locker rooms/ changing areas, restrooms, front desk reception area, and employee notification area, and posted on Blaze Gymnastics’ website and social media pages/accounts. This policy will be reviewed annually and updated as necessary.
ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS POLICY
Blaze Gymnastics is committed to creating a safe and positive environment for all, and to ensuring that it promotes an environment free of misconduct. Therefore, the following Policy has been adopted regarding the electronic communications of all Blaze Gymnastics personnel.
Use of Electronic Communication/Social Media for Blaze Gymnastics Business
Social media and electronic communications (including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, snapchat, texts, emails, blogs and web postings) provide an opportunity for misconduct to occur.
Therefore, Blaze Gymnastics does not permit individual or private communication from coaches, staff, volunteers and administrators to gymnasts via these communication media.
All e-mails, texts, and posts must be professional and related solely to Blaze Gymnastics’ activities or events.
All coaches, staff, volunteers and administrators are to distribute electronic and mobile communications to gymnasts openly and publicly, with a copy to the parents transmitted simultaneously.
Coaches, staff, volunteers and administrators shall not ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ any gymnasts or his/her parent, nor allow friending, following or the equivalent from a gymnast or parent on any personal social media account. Gymnasts and parents may only engage with an official Blaze Gymnastics page or account.
No private information regarding Blaze Gymnastics or any of its gymnasts may be distributed in any format.
Parents and guardians have the right to request that their child not be contacted in any form of electronic communications. All such requests will be honored.
Any violation of the Electronic Communications Policy could result in progressive discipline up to and including immediate termination. A copy of this policy shall be posted on Blaze Gymnastics’ website and social media pages/accounts. This policy will be reviewed annually and updated as necessary.
LOCKER ROOM/RESTROOM POLICY
Blaze Gymnastics is committed to creating a safe and positive environment for all, and to ensuring that it promotes an environment free of misconduct. Therefore, the following Policy has been adopted regarding the locker room and restroom areas of Blaze Gymnastics.
SAFETY IN LOCKER ROOMS/RESTROOMS
Only participants, approved Blaze Gymnastics personnel and family members are permitted in the locker rooms and changing areas.
Interactions with gymnasts in the locker room or restroom should be minimized. If necessary, any interactions with a child shall be observable and interruptible by a responsible adult of the same gender.
Any meetings between a staff member and athlete in a locker room or changing area shall require that a second responsible adult of the same gender be present.
Athletes are encouraged to come dressed for practice or competition and change at home.
Parents are responsible for tending to the toileting needs of their children.
The use of recording devices of any kind (including smartphones) in the locker rooms and restrooms is strictly prohibited.
Sweeps of the locker rooms and changing areas will be regularly conducted in pairs by Blaze Gymnastics personnel.
Any violation of the Locker Room/Restroom Policy could result in progressive discipline up to and including immediate termination.
A copy of this policy shall be posted in the locker rooms/changing areas and restrooms.
This policy will be reviewed annually and updated as necessary.
Blaze Gymnastics is committed to creating a safe and positive environment for all, and to ensuring that it promotes an environment free of misconduct. Therefore, the following Policy has been adopted with respect to reporting violations of Blaze Gymnastics policies and suspicions or allegations of abuse.
If Blaze Gymnastics personnel or volunteers witness any type of misconduct occurring, he/she should interrupt or disrupt the conduct using reasonably necessary action given the circumstances.
What to Report and When
All Blaze Gymnastics personnel and volunteers must report:
Potential violations of any Blaze Gymnastics policy related to safe environments/athlete protection.
Suspicions or allegations of child physical or sexual abuse.
Reports should be made as soon as reasonably possible.
To Whom Reports Should be Made
Reports should be made to Sharon Cochardo, Kevin Hallinan, or Derek Fein.
Blaze Gymnastics will follow applicable law in reporting abusive situations to law enforcement authorities. Blaze Gymnastics does not investigate suspicions or allegations of child physical or sexual abuse or attempt to evaluate the credibility or validity of such allegations as a condition for reporting to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. Failure to make a report when the law requires one can be a crime itself, so the gymnastics professional should consult counsel promptly and consider such matters with the utmost seriousness. Blaze Gymnastics personnel or volunteer’s failure to make a report will also be considered grounds for disciplinary action.
If, in Blaze Gymnastics’ reasonable and good faith judgment, reporting to the proper authorities is necessary to protect a person from the possibility of further abuse, it may make such report even if not compelled by law to do so.
Blaze Gymnastics will consider whether it is appropriate or necessary to make a report to USA Gymnastics pursuant to Article 10 of USA Gymnastics’ Bylaws with respect to such conduct.
HOW TO REPORT
The designated staff above will take a report in the way that is most comfortable for the person initiating a report, including oral or written, over the phone, via email or in person. It is helpful for reporting individuals to provide, at a minimum, (1) the name of the complainant; (2) the name of the individual alleged to have committed the misconduct; (3) the type of misconduct alleged; (4) when and where the alleged misconduct occurred; (5) the names of other individuals who might have information regarding the alleged misconduct; and (6) a summary statement of the reasons to believe that misconduct has occurred.
Anonymous reporting is permitted. Anonymous reporters should bear in mind that anonymous reporting may make it difficult for Blaze Gymnastics to investigate and properly address allegations.
HOW REPORTS ARE HANDLED
When an allegation of child physical or sexual abuse is made against Blaze Gymnastics personnel or volunteer, Blaze Gymnastics may immediately remove that individual from contact with any children in the program or suspend or change the assignment of that individual, as may be necessary, until the allegation has been investigated (by the proper authorities and/or Blaze Gymnastics).
With respect to any alleged violation of its safe environment/athlete protection-related policies that do not require reporting to the proper authorities, Blaze Gymnastics will conduct an internal investigation. Each investigation will be driven by the facts of the conduct being investigated, and therefore the steps taken in each investigation may not be alike. Any investigation and action taken with respect thereto will be documented.
If a report alleges conduct that requires reporting to the proper authorities, Blaze Gymnastics may consult legal counsel regarding whether Blaze Gymnastics’ conducting a simultaneous internal investigation is appropriate or necessary. In situations where the proper authorities do not press criminal charges or pursue charges to trial, or where the alleged offender is acquitted at trial, Blaze Gymnastics still may investigate the alleged conduct to determine whether there was any violation of Blaze Gymnastics’ safe environment/athlete protection-related policies and take action accordingly.
Blaze Gymnastics will consult legal counsel about whether it will notify other parents of athletes when a report has been made against Blaze Gymnastics personnel or volunteers.
CONSULTING LEGAL COUNSEL
Blaze Gymnastics may consult legal counsel with respect to any report made to Blaze Gymnastics pursuant to this policy. Blaze Gymnastics may also consult legal counsel with respect to (1) its or its personnel/ volunteers’ legal reporting requirements; (2) investigating any report made to Blaze Gymnastics pursuant to this policy; or (3) any employment action that may be taken with respect to any violation of its safe environment/athlete protection-related policies.
To the extent permitted by law, as appropriate, and to the extent possible, Blaze Gymnastics will keep confidential the complainant’s name on request, not make public the names of potential victims, the accused perpetrator or the people who made a report of child physical and sexual abuse to the authorities.
Regardless of outcome, Blaze Gymnastics will support the complainant(s) and his or her right to express concerns in good faith. Blaze Gymnastics will not encourage, allow or tolerate attempts from any individual to retaliate, punish, allow or in any way harm any individual(s) who reports a concern in good faith. Such actions against a complainant will be considered grounds for disciplinary action.
A report of abuse, misconduct or policy violations that is malicious, frivolous or made in bad faith is prohibited and will be considered grounds for disciplinary action. Depending on the nature of the allegation, a person making a malicious, frivolous or bad- faith report may also be subject to civil or criminal proceedings.
A copy of this policy shall be placed in the front desk reception area and employee notification area, and posted on Blaze Gymnastics’ website and social media pages/accounts, along with the incident report form.
This policy will be reviewed annually and updated as necessary.
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