How to Recognize, Reduce, and Respond to Sexual Misconduct
The following information has been provided by SafeSport, a program of The United States Olympic Committee. SafeSport aims to create a healthy, supportive environment for all participants of sport through education, resources, and training. The overall goal is to help members of the sport community recognize, reduce, and respond to misconduct in sport. For more information, please visit safesport.org.
Sport can teach lessons that reach beyond the field of play, but its ability to do so depends on maintaining the bonds of trust, mentorship and mutual respect among teammates. These elements are undermined when sexual misconduct occurs in sport settings. Sexual misconduct includes sexual abuse, sexual harassment and rape. Every member of the sport community, especially adult staff in positions of authority, can contribute to a sport environment free from sexual misconduct by working together and being informed.
It is a violation of the Code for a Participant to engage in Sexual Misconduct. Sexual Misconduct offenses include, but are not limited to:
1. Sexual or Gender-related Harassment
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, when the conditions outlined in (a) and/or (b), below, are present.
Sexual harassment includes harassment related to gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal or non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature, when the conditions outlined in (a) and/or (b), below, are present.
a. Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of any person’s employment, standing in sport, or participation in Events, sports programs and/or activities; or when submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for sporting decisions affecting the individual (often referred to as “quid pro quo” harassment); or
b. Such conduct creates a hostile environment. A “hostile environment” exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, and/or pervasive such that it interferes with, limits, or deprives any individual of the opportunity to participate in any program or activity. Conduct must be deemed severe, persistent, or pervasive from both a subjective and an objective perspective.
Whether a hostile environment exists depends on the totality of known circumstances, including, but not limited to:
i. The frequency, nature, and severity of the conduct;
ii. Whether the conduct was physically threatening;
iii. The effect of the conduct on the Claimant’s mental or emotional state;
iv. Whether the conduct was directed at more than one person;
v. Whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct;
vi. Whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with any person’s educational or work performance and/or sport programs or activities; and
vii. Whether the conduct implicates concerns related to protected speech.
A hostile environment can be created by persistent or pervasive conduct or by a single or isolated incident that is sufficiently severe. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to prove a hostile environment, particularly if the conduct is physical. A single incident of sexual contact without Consent, for example, may be sufficiently severe to constitute a hostile environment. In contrast, the perceived offensiveness of a single verbal or written expression, standing alone, is typically not sufficient to constitute a hostile environment.
2. Non-consensual Sexual Contact (or attempts to commit the same)
It is a violation of the Code for a Participant to engage in Sexual Contact without Consent.
Sexual Contact is any intentional touching of a sexual nature, however slight, with any object or body part (as described below), by a person upon another person.
Sexual Contact includes but is not limited to: (a) kissing, (b) intentional touching of the breasts, buttocks, groin or genitals, whether clothed or unclothed, or intentionally touching of another with any of these body parts; and (c) making another touch themselves, the Participant, or someone else with or on any of these body parts.
3. Nonconsensual Sexual Intercourse
It is a violation of the Code for a Participant to engage in Sexual Intercourse without Consent.
Sexual intercourse is any penetration, however slight, with any object or body part (as described below), by a person upon another person.
Sexual Intercourse includes (a) vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger; (b) anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger; and (c) any contact, no matter how slight, between the mouth of one person and the genitalia of another person.
4. Sexual Exploitation
It is a violation of the Code for a Participant to engage in Sexual Exploitation. Sexual Exploitation occurs when a Participant purposely or knowingly:
a. Allows third parties to observe private sexual activity from a hidden location (e.g., closet) or through electronic means (e.g., Skype or live-streaming of images) without Consent of all parties involved in the sexual activity.
b. Records or photographs private sexual activity and/or a person’s intimate parts (including genitalia, groin, breasts or buttocks) without Consent of all parties in the recording or photo.
c. Engages in voyeurism (e.g., watching private sexual activity or viewing another person’s intimate parts when that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy), without Consent of all parties being viewed.
d. Disseminates, shows or posts images of private sexual activity and/or a person’s intimate parts (including genitalia, groin, breasts or buttocks) without prior Consent of the person depicted in the images.
e. Intentionally exposes another person to a sexually transmitted infection or virus without that person’s knowledge.
f. Engages in prostituting or trafficking another person.
5. Bullying, Hazing, or Other Inappropriate Conduct of a Sexual Nature.
• An imbalance of power is always assumed between a coach and an athlete.
• Minors cannot consent to sexual activity with an adult; and all sexual interaction between an adult and a minor is strictly prohibited.
These guidelines do not apply to a preexisting relationship between two spouses or life partners.
REPORTING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
It’s critical for clubs, coaches, staff members, volunteers and parents to report suspicions or allegations of sexual misconduct to the proper officials and appropriate law enforcement authorities.
By working together, we can create safe conditions for sport and protect athletes.
Courtesy of the United States Olympic Committee.