SafeSport seeks to create a healthy, supportive environment for all participants. Through education, resources and training, we help members of the sport community recognize, reduce and respond to misconduct in sport.
You should know that a whole team stands ready to help and protect you. If you have questions, want to disclose an incident or just need someone to talk with, USA Volleyball and SafeSport can help. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a number of options and requirements to report abuse.
Report to law enforcement immediately if you are aware of abuse. If abuse includes sexual misconduct, report to both law enforcement and the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
Out of respect for the importance of this issue and to encourage honest and effective reporting, knowingly making a false or malicious report will not be tolerated and may be a violation of USA Volleyball’s Code of Conduct.
Report Child Abuse to Local Authorities
Click here to report child abuse to local authorities.
Report Sexual Misconduct to the U.S. Center for SafeSport
Click here to report sexual misconduct to the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
Report Other Forms of Misconduct (Physical/Emotional)
Click here to report other forms of misconduct (physical/emotional). Other forms of misconduct include physical misconduct, emotional misconduct, bullying, hazing and/or harassment. Reports are submitted to USAV and the appropriate region. Reports can also be submitted by calling 1-855-306-7775. By submitting the form, you are giving permission to USA Volleyball’s SafeSport Program staff to contact you. Your report will be sent to the appropriate region for review and action. Although USA Volleyball accepts anonymous reporting, doing so limits the ability to investigate and respond.
These resources provide information on child protection, abuse prevention and ways to seek help.
Safe 4 Athletes
Advocate for athlete welfare
Darkness to Light
To empower people to prevent child sexual abuse
Global nonprofit leader in teaching positive, practical personal safety skills to protect people of all ages and abilities from bullying, molestation, abduction and other violence, and to prepare them to develop positive relationships that enrich their lives. Kidpower makes it FUN not SCARY.
Your Life, Your Voice
24/7 Hotline: 800-448-3000
Resources for children, teens and young adults dealing with depression, abuse or contemplating suicide
Information on bullying, including who is at risk, prevention and responding, and the laws in each state to prevent bullying and protect children
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Comprehensive information and resources to protect children
Stop It Now!
Preventing sexual abuse of children by helping take action before it starts
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
Staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a professional crisis counselor
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect
Information on laws and policies that designate the groups of professionals that are required to report cases of suspected child abuse and neglect. Includes summaries of laws for all U.S. states and territories.
Positive Coaching Alliance
PCA is a national nonprofit works to provide all youth athletes with a positive and character-building youth sports experience
Resource site for sports parents with a wide variety of youth sports topics including health, safety, nutrition, psychology and sports parenting
It’s important for every athlete to understand what unacceptable behavior is and when to reach out to an adult to ask for help and guidance. Below find information from Safe4Athletes on when you should speak to an adult and ask for help.
Sometimes athletes are worried that if they complain or report a situation about a coach or an adult, the coach will no longer like them or give them good instruction. Or, you may think your teammates will get mad at you.
Don’t be afraid to speak up – everyone deserves respectful conduct.
When should you speak to an adult and ask for help?
- Whenever something happens – that, to YOU – doesn’t feel right, it’s important to speak up to protect yourself and your teammates.
No Bullying, Emotional or Verbal Abuse Allowed! Talk to someone:
- When an adult or another athlete who is bigger, stronger or older tries to make you do something wrong, makes you feel worthless or makes fun of you in order to embarrass you or make you feel bad.
- When someone yells at you, calls you names or swears at you.
- When someone pushes, shoves, punches, pinches or hurts you in any way.
- When someone tries to make you feel like you are a bad person.
- When someone repeatedly attempts to control your personal or social life.
No Sexual Abuse! Talk to someone:
- When sexual contact, sexual attention and any other behavior with sexual overtones happen that makes you uncomfortable and you do not want to have happen.
- When an adult shares sex jokes, cartoons or photos.
- If someone touches you inappropriately, tries to pinch, touch or kiss you.
- If someone is talking to you about sex, asking you to have sex or asking you to touch them or kiss them.
- If someone is talking about your body or your outfit and calls you “hot” and it makes you feel uncomfortable.
- If someone emails you, text messages you or uses social media to talk about sex or suggest sexual things or send sexual photos.
- If anyone tries to hurt you sexually or forces you to touch them.
No Romantic or Dating Relationships With Coaches!
- Your coach must treat every athlete equally and should not be spending time alone with any athlete.
- The coach is your teacher and romantic relationships are NOT OK.
No Hazing, Initiation Rituals or Physical Punishment!
No team is allowed to have an initiation ritual or make you think that you have to do something embarrassing to be accepted on the team. Activities that should NOT be allowed:
- Pressuring you to drink alcohol, take drugs or eat or drink something that you don’t want to.
- Giving you any substance for the purpose of improving performance.
- Making you shave any part of your body or take off clothes or show body parts.
- Making you dress up and look silly.
- Forcing you to do hard physical activity as punishment, beyond what is generally acceptable.
- Asking you to perform a physical activity that is clearly beyond your physical activity and may cause injury.
A coach must always ask for your permission prior to touching you. The following situations are generally acceptable unless YOU (the athlete) feels uncomfortable. If you do, ask the coach to stop.
- When the coach asks for permission to put a body part in a correct mechanical position or correct physical form.
- A “high five” or pat on the head or back when congratulating an athlete for a good performance.
- “Spotting” or any protective coaching intended to reduce the risk of practicing or performing a skill that may cause harm, with “spotting” techniques explained to you and your teammates beforehand.
- In general, if a coach or anyone else touching you makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, it is ok for you to ask the person to stop. Such physical contact must stop immediately no matter what the reason.
If it feels wrong, it is wrong!
For further information please visit Safe4Athletes.
You’ve heard your parents and coaches talk about abuse and misconduct, but what does that mean? Below are some situations to help you determine if something that happens to you or a teammate is OK, or if you should tell another adult.
Q: My coach or another adult at my club gives me gifts that I like a ton and takes me to really fun things a lot, like concerts or games. He or she told me not to tell anyone about these things – and told me that if I tell anyone, he or she will stop giving me things. Is this normal?
A: Probably not. People who want to hurt athletes by abusing them sexually often use gifts, like sport equipment or tickets to an event, as a way to gain the athlete’s trust and to find ways to spend time alone with them without other adults or teammates. If this person is telling you not to tell anyone else about the gifts, you should tell your parent(s) or another trusted adult.
Q: My coach (or another adult) makes me feel funny the way that they touch me, but I don’t really understand why. Is this bad?
A: You should never feel funny about the way someone is touching you. If it doesn’t feel right, talk to you parent(s) or another trusted adult about what the adult is doing that makes you feel funny. They can help you understand if what is going on is OK.
Q: My coach says that he/she is the only coach that can help me become a great athlete. Is this true?
A: No. There are plenty of well-qualified coaches out there who can work with you to be a great athlete. You don’t need to work with a particular coach to succeed.
Q: My coach tells me that he/she is the only one who can get me an athletic scholarship and that if I tell anyone what we do, or if I don’t do what he/she wants me to, I won’t get the scholarship. Is this true?
A: No. There are lots of coaches out there who can help you find an athletic scholarship if your skills are consistent with collegiate competition.
Q: Sometimes my coach or another adult sends me weird texts. He or she asks me whether I’m having sex with my boyfriend or girlfriend, or other things about sex. Is this normal?
A: No. There is no reason for an adult to ask you about your sex life. Depending on the content of the texts, this could be misconduct. Show these messages to a parent or another trusted adult.
Q: An adult at my club makes a lot of comments about the way I look – mostly that I’m really sexy and beautiful and that he/she would like to see me naked. He/she told me that he/she can say this kind of stuff because he/she isn’t touching me. Is this true?
A: No. Adults should never make sexual comments to or about you. This is a type of sexual misconduct. You should tell your parent(s) or trusted adult.
Q: One of the adults at my club says that if I tell anyone about the sexual stuff we do, he/she will tell my parents that I’ve been drinking alcohol or taking drugs. My parents might believe him/her and they will ground me. What should I do?
A: If an adult uses the threat of drugs, alcohol or other behavior as a way to make you keep a secret, you should tell someone about the sexual abuse. Stopping the sexual abuse is the most important thing!
Q: I know volleyball is really hard work and it’s my coach’s job to push me to perform better than I think I can. But is it OK for him/her to keep calling me names (like “fat cow”) or throw things at me, even if they don’t hit me?
A: To help you perform better, comments and directions are most useful if they address your skills and performance. Calling you a “fat cow” or throwing things at you doesn’t critique your performance, it attacks you as a person. Tell someone if an adult makes you feel threatened in any way or you fear for your safety.
Q: My teammate just had a concussion and he/she doesn’t want to go back into the game. My coach told my teammate that he/she has to play or he/she will get kicked off the team. Is that OK?
A: Unfortunately, sometimes you will get hurt or injured while playing volleyball. It can still be a safe place for you to play as long as someone isn’t trying to hurt you. Coaches should never make you or your teammates play if you are injured, especially if you let the coach know that you do not want to go in. If you feel your coach is asking you to do something beyond what is healthy for you, you should stop.
Q: My coach doesn’t let us drink any water during practice, even when it’s 100 degrees out and we’ve been practicing for three hours. Is that OK?
A: Withholding, recommending against or denying adequate water can be considered physically harmful. If this happens, let a trusted adult know as soon as you can.
Courtesy of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) SafeSport Program
by former U.S. National Team member Cassidy Lichtman
Who do you want to be?
No, really. Stop. Actually think about what kind of person you want to be. What do you want to bring to the world? What kind of impression do you want to leave on the people you’ve touched in your life?
Maybe those feel like really deep questions, but you’re answering them every day with everything you do and every interaction you have. So it might be a good idea to think about what your answers are. Because you can tell yourself you want to be the kind of person that makes the world better, but that means absolutely nothing if it doesn’t come out in how you treat the people around you.
When I say the people around you, I mean all of them. It’s easy to be nice to people you like or those with authority over you or someone who’s higher up in the “social hierarchy.”
BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? HOW YOU TREAT OTHER PEOPLE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHO THEY ARE; IT’S ABOUT WHO YOU ARE. SO WHEN YOU LAUGH AT THE UNPOPULAR GIRL AT SCHOOL OR IGNORE THE AWKWARD KID ON YOUR TEAM, IT SAYS NOTHING ABOUT THEM AND EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU. AND IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. BULLYING NEVER MAKES YOU COOL; IT JUST MAKES YOU A JERK.
Do you have any idea the power that you have? Every day when you get up in the morning, you have the ability to make other people’s lives better. With one word, one smile, you can brighten someone’s day and make the world a happier place. But every time you make someone feel bad about themselves, every time you judge someone for being different from you, every time you make someone feel like they are alone in this world, all you do is make the world a little bit darker.
So what do you want to do? Do you want to go to bed at night knowing that you’re responsible for a little more love and light in the world or for a little more pain? That’s the choice that you have every day and you will be remembered for that choice.
Also, there’s no middle ground here. Maybe you aren’t a bully. You don’t make fun of other people or participate in the gossip. But you don’t do anything to stop it.
I get that it’s scary to take a stand because you don’t want to end up a victim, too. So maybe you start small. Stop laughing at jokes made at someone else’s expense. Don’t ignore someone just because the kings and queens of the social hierarchy have declared them an outcast. Don’t underestimate the power of just a kind word or a smile. Start with those things and I hope that someday you will have the strength and the courage to speak up against something you know is wrong.
Most importantly, understand that you have the same choice as everyone else. You have the same power as everyone else. I know it’s hard to challenge the status quo or to go against what’s “cool.” But take a moment and ask yourself: Is your fear greater than someone else’s happiness? If one word from you could make someone else feel like they’re worth something, can you really justify not saying it?
What all of the drama boils down to, if you really look at it, is that we judge people for liking different things than we do. That’s it. They like the “wrong” things. And if you ask me, that’s completely ludicrous because think about how boring and dysfunctional our world would be if those differences didn’t exist. If all anyone cared about was sports then nobody would’ve been able to design your iPhone. If we all spent our time solving equations then you’d never have found your favorite song. Maybe your interests aren’t totally aligned with someone else’s, but you can appreciate them anyway.
Because you want to know what’s really cool? Passion. Passion is what shapes the world. It’s how we break records and find new cures for diseases. All the people we look up to — great athletes, leaders, artists, celebrities and scientists — everyone who you think is really awesome has that in common. All of them have found something they loved and gone after it.
So when you make someone feel bad about the things they like, all you’re doing is depriving the world by suppressing that passion. It doesn’t matter what it is. There is nothing cooler about loving sports than math or about listening to rap over the opera. It’s not about what you’re into; it’s about finding what that is and owning it.
THAT’S MY ADVICE, AS WELL, FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE BEEN ON THE OTHER SIDE AND KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE BULLIED. FIND WHAT YOU LOVE AND OWN IT. WHEN YOU DO THAT, YOU’LL FIND OTHER PEOPLE WHO LOVE IT TOO. AND ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO WILL LOOK DOWN ON YOU FOR THAT? THEY’RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO SIT BACK AND WATCH THEIR WORLD GET RESHAPED BY PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO AREN’T AFRAID TO LOVE WHAT THEY LOVE.
So don’t ever let anyone tell you that just being you isn’t good enough. Don’t ever let them make you feel like you aren’t worth anything or that you aren’t important. You have a purpose. You have the power to make our world better. And you have people who love you for exactly who you are. When the world gets you down and it feels like there’s nobody on your side, remember this: I think you’re awesome, for nothing other than being you. I’ll be on your side.
Don’t forget those questions we started with. It’s a good reminder for all of us to look at how we live. Be the person you actually want to be. Use your power wisely to bring more light into this world. Instead of trying to place yourself above somebody else, lift them up and you will be remembered for it. And let’s all try to love each other, and ourselves, a little better.
The U.S. Center for SafeSport has developed an interactive, educational toolkit to help create a culture of safety and respect in any sports program.