POUGHKEEPSIE – The Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse (CPCA) has been awarded a grant from the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) to administer the Athletes Are Children First (AACF) pilot program in the Hudson Valley. AACF educates gymnastic
s coaches across the state on their role as mandated reporters and trains them to recognize and report the signs of sexual abuse in their athletes.
The recent Larry Nasser sexual abuse scandal and Netflix documentary Athlete A have exposed the undue risk of abuse that child athletes face, especially in the sport of gymnastics. In response, Congress passed the Protecting Young Victims of Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act in 2017.
This Act designated adults associated with an Olympic governing body or amateur sports organization as mandated reporters who are required to report allegations of child abuse, including sexual abuse, within 24 hours to local authorities and the U.S. Center for SafeSport. It also requires that sports organizations offer and provide consistent training to adult staff and volunteers who are in contact with minor athletes, as well as the athletes themselves. The CPCA will be providing that training.
“Awareness and education are the first steps toward eradicating child abuse in our community,” said Kimberly Haight, Executive Director, The Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. “Because of the Athletes Are Children First program, coaches will be better trained to be advocates, and children in the Hudson Valley will be safer.”
The Athletes Are Children First program will leverage information gained through focus groups, outreach to coaches and gym owners, and the development of the Children First handbook to provide expert training for gymnastics professionals facilitated by the child protection experts with The CPCA. Furthermore, e-learning tools will be developed for both athletes and parents, and connections to additional resources and support systems will be made available.
As part of the grant, multiple staff members from The Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse will become trained as NYSPCC-certified Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Trainers using the NYSPCC curriculum Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Education for club owners, coaches, and staff, as well as the NYSPCC Safe Gym Handbook outlining best practice policies for gymnastics clubs.
The program begins on July 1, 2020. For additional information, contact the CPCA.