What is the Proposed Child Athlete Bill of Rights? - Dordulian Law Group

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What is the Proposed Child Athlete Bill of Rights?

What is the Proposed Child Athlete Bill of Rights?

Jul 26, 2021

With the Tokyo Olympics in full swing, many fans are closely following the storied and elite U.S. Gymnastics program which won the gold medal in 2016. On Friday, multiple media outlets reported that Child USA and The Army of Survivors – two non-profit organizations working to end child sexual abuse and support survivors – had officially announced the launch of the Child Athlete Bill of Rights advocacy campaign.

Following countless sexual abuse scandals involving young athletes – including Larry Nassar at Michigan State, Jerry Sandusky at Penn State, Richard Strauss at Ohio State, and most recently Robert Anderson from the University of Michigan – the two organizations are calling on all those involved in youth athletics to make a commitment to preventing future abuse by adopting four guiding principles within the Child Athlete Bill of Rights.

The four main principles of the Child Athlete Bill of Rights include (under the acronym SAFE):

  • S is for SAY: Children have the right to say no at any time
  • A is for ACT: Children have the right to disclose to an adult when they feel uncomfortable
  • F is for FEEL: Children need to have the space and support to express their feelings
  • E is for EDUCATION: Children and their caregivers need to be educated about what abuse is and how they can report it

As the IndyStar reported, if implemented, the proposal would establish the first-ever national set of regulations governing youth sports that could be enforced through an organization’s insurance coverage.

The Army of Survivors was created by a group of more than 40 victims who were abused by Larry Nassar. The non-profit bills itself as the only national organization advocating for and supporting child athlete survivors. The organization’s website reports that with participation levels as they are today, at least 5.91 million survivors of sexual assault can be confirmed in the United States alone. The non-profit also cites a recent study which indicates that 13% of student athletes are victims of sexual assault through their participation in sports.

“We do a very poor job in this country of teaching children what is a good touch, what is a bad touch, how to say no, how to say something doesn’t feel right. I hope that this helps to teach kids that they do have the right to do that and to feel safe,” Jillian Ruck, executive director of Child USA, told the Huffington Post.

A lot of times we send our kids to sports and youth organizations and we just assume that they’re in good hands and that kids are being given these rights,” Ruck told Huffpo. “But there are no policies that are standardized that do provide kids these rights. It’s time for us to have more oversight in sports to protect our children.”

Of the aforementioned sexual abuse scandals occurring at major universities, the following statistics are staggering:

  • Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team physician, allegedly abused more than 500 child athletes under the guise of medical treatment (he’s currently serving life in prison on child sex abuse charges). Nassar’s rampant sex crimes were featured in the Netflix documentary, “Athlete A.”
  • Richard Strauss, a former Ohio State University athletic trainer, reportedly committed almost 1,500 instances of sexual assault on student-patients over the course of two decades (many of whom were athletes).
  • In 2015, Penn State University settled with 26 survivors of Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse (following his sentence of 30 to 60 years for having abused 10 boys he met over five years through his charity for troubled children).

As the Huffington Post reported, USA Gymnastics isn’t the only national program to have been hit with a sexual abuse scandal. Former USA Swimming coach Andy King sexually abused up to a dozen minors over the course of three decades and is now serving 40 years in prison.

Danielle Moore is the board secretary of The Army of Survivors (and also happens to be a survivor of Nassar’s abuse). She told HuffPo that an essential element of curbing sexual assault against child athletes is encouraging them to speak up.

“Most people from a young age are taught that they have to listen to adults. Especially when a young person is part of a team, it’s the coach’s word 100%,” she said. “This campaign gives them that power to actually speak up. It normalizes the fact that they can use their voice.”

As the IndyStar reported, Child USA CEO, Marci Hamilton, has indicated that what sets this proposal apart from other well-intended recommendations is the concept of tying compliance to insurance coverage.

“I think that could make the difference,” she told the IndyStar.

Under the Child Athlete Bill of Rights, athletic organizations would be required to carry insurance. And those that can prove they comply with the requirements (perhaps, as the IndyStar suggested, through a yearly audit) could receive a discount on insurance coverage. Those that fail to undergo an audit may be denied coverage. The idea, according to the IndyStar report, is that “better child protection policies also benefit insurers through fewer costly claims, and the groups are currently working with one insurance company on a pilot project.”

Our focus is on protecting children through parental involvement,” Hamilton said to the IndyStar, “but also by creating mechanisms that are enforceable – that are not just a piece of paper, but rather that operate to create a safer environment for real.”

Over 50 million young athletes participate in some form of organized youth sports throughout the U.S. – from Pop Warner football to little league baseball. Establishing a Child Athlete Bill of Rights would be a step towards tangible progress and ensuring that sexual predators are held accountable.

Dordulian Law Group’s SAJE TEAM for Survivors

Dordulian Law Group (DLG) was founded by a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County. Sam Dordulian is a highly regarded litigator in the Southern California-area who has been fighting for the rights of sexual assault survivors his entire career. With over 100 jury trial victories, and having obtained life sentences against some of the most dangerous sexual predators in our community, Dordulian offers an unparalleled level of experience, dedication, and proven results.

When he founded DLG’s Sex Crimes Division to be the premier firm for survivors, Dordulian knew – through his years of experience as a sex crimes prosecutor – that clients could benefit significantly from having access to additional resources and support beyond legal expertise. That’s why Dordulian founded the SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts) to offer survivor clients 24/7 access to important resources through a four-tiered support network that they may utilize at any point throughout the legal process.

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In addition to having Dordulian as the litigation lead on all sex crime cases, survivors have access to:

  • Investigative Lead: Moses Castillo, an in-house Chief Investigator and retired LAPD sex crimes detective with nearly 30 years of experience
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  • Support Leads: Two licensed and nationally accredited victim advocates who have devoted their careers to helping sexual assault survivors in need

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Choosing the best attorney to handle your sexual assault claim can be an important and sometimes difficult decision. We recommend that survivors conduct ample research and appropriate due diligence before hiring an attorney – taking the proper time to confirm a potential lawyer’s win/loss record, total number of years in practice, total amount recovered in settlements and verdicts, past client testimonials, and more.

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