Partnership Provides Sexual Assault Prevention Resources to Soccer Coaches
To help prevent against sexual abuse and assault on soccer teams nationwide, United Soccer Coaches and the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault are teaming up to provide coaches with educational resources and training programs.
Several months ago, the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) approached United Soccer Coaches (USC) about partnering to apply for a grant from Raliance, a nonprofit dedicated “ending sexual violence in one generation.”
A couple of weeks ago, the organizations got word that they had received the grant. On April 1, their yearlong partnership to develop new educational resources and training programs for soccer coaches nationwide on the issues of sexual abuse and assault will begin.
“It just so happens to be very timely that we got the funding, especially in the ‘Me Too’ era, as well as with what we’ve seen nationally with different sports organizations and different sexual abuse scandals,” said Melanie Austin, director of education at MOCSA.
Over the next year, MOCSA will develop a coaches’ toolkit and an e-learning module, which USC will then distribute through its various channels to its 30,000 members nationwide. MOCSA will also host some in-person events locally in Kansas City, and it will present sessions at the United Soccer Coaches Convention, which will take place in Chicago in January 2019.
“Sexual abuse and assault is a very important topic in the world of sports and beyond today,” said USC CEO Lynn Berling-Manuel in a press release. “Safety is always our priority and we are proud to have the opportunity to work together with MOCSA to ensure our coaches have access to the best resources and training to help protect themselves and the athletes they serve.”
The announcement of the partnership comes soon after a new federal law—Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017—was signed and immediately put into effect on February 14. The law requires coaches to report any suspected child abuse within 24 hours. If they fail to do that, the individual would be subject to criminal penalties.
“This law is generally just saying that coaches are mandated reporters—so responsible for reporting abuse if they expect it—which is a good thing,” Austin said. “But it can be kind of scary, because there’s some liability that comes with that.”
Along with giving coaches the tools they need to create safe environments for their players, MOCSA will also give them resources on how to report suspected sexual abuse or assault, how to intervene if a situation arises, and how to support survivors of sexual abuse.
“Ultimately, we would love for coaches to be a part of preventing sexual abuse and assault totally,” Austin said. “That means becoming knowledgeable about it. When you become knowledgeable and you understand it, you can do more about it.”
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