It is the policy of USA Hockey that there shall be no sexual abuse of any minor involved in any of its Member Programs by an employee, volunteer, independent contractor or another participant. Sexual abuse of a minor occurs when an adult employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant touches a minor for the purpose of causing the sexual arousal or gratification of either the minor or the employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant. Sexual abuse of a minor also occurs when a minor touches an employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant for the sexual arousal or sexual gratification of either the minor or the employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant, if the touching occurs at the request or with the consent of the employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant.
Sexual contact between or among children also can be abusive if there is a significant disparity in age, development, or size, rendering the younger child incapable of giving informed consent, if there is the existence of an aggressor, or where these is an imbalance of power and/or intellectual capabilities. The sexually abusive acts may include sexual penetration, sexual touching, or non-contact sexual acts such as exposure or voyeurism.
Neither consent of the minor to the sexual contact, mistake as to the participant’s age, nor the fact that the sexual contact did not take place at a hockey function are defenses to a complaint of sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse may also occur between adults or to an adult. Sexual abuse includes sexual interactions that are nonconsensual or accomplished by force or threat of force, or coerced or manipulated, regardless of the age of the participants.
Sexual abuse may also include non-touching offenses, such as sexually harassing behaviors; an adult discussing his/her sex life with a minor; an adult asking a minor about his/her sex life; an adult requesting or sending nude or partial dress photo to minor; exposing minors to pornographic material; sending minors sexually explicit electronic messages or photos (e.g. “sexting”); deliberately exposing a minor to sexual acts; or deliberately exposing a minor to inappropriate nudity.
Without limiting the above, any act or conduct described as sexual abuse, sexual misconduct or child sexual abuse under applicable federal or state law constitutes sexual abuse under this Policy.
Any USA Hockey member who engages in any act of sexual abuse or misconduct is subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, permanent suspension, and/or referral to law enforcement authorities.
It is the policy of USA Hockey that there shall be no physical abuse of any participant involved in any of its Member Programs by any employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant. Physical abuse means physical contact with a participant that intentionally causes or has the potential to cause the participant to sustain bodily harm or personal injury. Physical abuse also includes physical contact with a participant that intentionally creates a threat of immediate bodily harm or personal injury. Physical abuse may also include intentionally hitting or threatening to hit an athlete with objects or sports equipment.
In addition to physical contact or the threat of physical contact with a participant, physical abuse also includes the providing of alcohol to a participant under the age of consent and the providing of illegal drugs or nonprescribed medications to any participant.
Without limiting the above, any act or conduct described as physical abuse or misconduct under applicable federal or state law constitutes physical abuse under this Policy.
Physical abuse does not include physical contact that is reasonably designed to coach, teach, demonstrate or improve a hockey skill, including physical conditioning, team building and appropriate discipline. Permitted physical conduct may include, but is not necessarily limited to, shooting pucks at a goaltender, demonstrating checking and other hockey skills, and communicating with or directing participants during the course of a game or practice by touching or moving them in a non-threatening, non-sexual manner.
Any USA Hockey member who engages in any act of physical abuse is subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, permanent suspension, and/or referral to law enforcement authorities.
It is the policy of USA Hockey that there shall be no emotional abuse of any participant involved in any of its Member Programs by an employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant. Emotional abuse involves a pattern of deliberate, non-contact behavior that has the potential to cause emotional or psychological harm to a participant. These behaviors may include verbal acts, physical acts or acts that deny attention or support.
Examples of emotional abuse prohibited by this Policy include, without limitation: a pattern of (a) verbal behaviors that (i) attack a participant personally by, e.g., calling them worthless, fat, or disgusting; or (ii) repeatedly and excessively yelling at a particular participant or participants in a manner that serves no productive motivational purpose; and (b) physically aggressive behaviors, such as (i) throwing sport equipment, water bottles, or chairs at participants; or (ii) punching walls, windows, or other objects.
Emotional abuse does not include generally-accepted and age appropriate coaching methods of skill enhancement, physical conditioning, motivation, team building, appropriate discipline, or improving athletic performance.
A USA Hockey member who engages in any act of emotional abuse is subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, permanent suspension, and/or referral to law enforcement authorities.
Note: Bullying, threats, harassment, and hazing, defined below, often involve some form of emotional misconduct.
BULLYING, THREATS & HARASSMENT POLICY
USA Hockey supports an environment for participation in hockey conducive to the enjoyment of hockey that is free from threats, harassment, and any type of bullying behavior. The purpose of this policy is to promote consistency of approach and to help create a climate in which all types of bullying, harassing or threatening behavior are regarded as unacceptable.
Bullying is the use of coercion to obtain control over another person or to be habitually cruel to another person. Bullying involves an intentional, persistent or repeated pattern of committing or willfully tolerating physical and non-physical behaviors that are intended to cause fear, humiliation, or physical harm in an attempt to socially exclude, diminish, or isolate another person. Bullying can occur through written, verbal or electronically transmitted expression or by means of a physical act or gesture. Bullying behavior is prohibited in any manner in connection with any USA Hockey sanctioned activities or events.
Examples of bullying prohibited by this Policy include, without limitation physical behaviors, including punching, kicking or choking an athlete; and verbal and emotional behaviors, including, the use of electronic communications (i.e., “cyber bullying”), to harass, frighten, degrade, intimidate or humiliate.
While other team members are often the perpetrators of bullying, it is a violation of this Policy if a coach or other responsible adult knows or should know of the bullying behavior but takes no action to intervene on behalf of the targeted participant(s).
A USA Hockey participant or parent of a participant who engages in any act of bullying is subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, permanent suspension and/or referral to law enforcement authorities. The severity and pattern, if any, of the bullying behavior and/or result shall be taken into consideration when disciplinary decisions are made.
A threat to harm others is defined as any written, verbal, physical or electronically transmitted expression of intent to physically injure or harm someone else. A threat may be communicated directly to the intended victim or communicated to a third party. Threatening behavior is prohibited in any manner in connection with any USA Hockey sanctioned activities or events.
Any USA Hockey participant or parent of a participant who engages in any act of threatening or harassing behavior is subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, permanent suspension, and/or referral to law enforcement authorities. The severity and pattern, if any, of the threatening behavior and/or result shall be taken into consideration when disciplinary decisions are made.
Harassment in sport includes any pattern of physical and/or non-physical behaviors that (a) are intended to cause fear, humiliation, or annoyance, (b) offend or degrade, (c) create a hostile environment, or (d) reflect discriminatory bias in an attempt to establish dominance, superiority, or power over an individual participant or group based on gender, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, or mental or physical disability.
Examples of harassment prohibited by this Policy include, without limitation such non-physical offenses as (a) making negative or disparaging comments about a participant’s sexual orientation, gender expression, disability, religion, skin color, or ethnic traits; (b) displaying offensive materials, gestures, or symbols; and (c) withholding or reducing playing time to a participant based on his/her sexual orientation.
Sexual Harassment is a form of harassment prohibited by this Policy. It shall be a violation for any employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant to harass a participant(s) through conduct or communications of a sexual nature or to retaliate against anyone that reports sexual harassment or participates in a harassment investigation. USA Hockey and/or its Affiliate organizations shall investigate all indications, informal reports and formal grievances of sexual harassment by any employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant and appropriate corrective action shall be taken. Corrective action includes taking all reasonable steps to end the harassment, to prevent harassment from recurring and to prevent retaliation against anyone who reports sexual harassment or participates in a harassment investigation.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature may constitute sexual harassment, even if the harasser and the participant being harassed are the same sex and whether or not the participant resists or submits to the harasser, when:
1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a participant’s participation in any activity; or
2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by a participant is used as the basis for decisions affecting the participant; or
3. Such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive such that it limits a participant’s ability to participate in or benefit from a hockey related program or activity or it creates a hostile or abusive environment.
Any conduct of a sexual nature directed by a minor toward an adult or by an adult to a minor is presumed to be unwelcome and shall constitute sexual harassment.
Acts of verbal or physical aggression, intimidation or hostility based on sex, but not involving conduct of a sexual nature may also constitute sexual harassment. Legitimate non-sexual touching or other non-sexual conduct is not sexual harassment.
While other team members are often the perpetrators of harassment or sexual harassment, it is a violation of this Policy if a coach or other responsible adult knows or should know of the harassment or sexual harassment but takes no action to intervene on behalf of the targeted participant(s).
A USA Hockey participant or parent of a participant who engages in any act of harassing or sexually harassing behavior is subject to appropriate disciplinary action, including but not limited to, suspension, permanent suspension, and/or referral to law enforcement authorities. The severity and pattern, if any, of the harassing or sexually harassing behavior and/or result shall be taken into consideration when disciplinary decisions are made.
It is the policy of USA Hockey that there shall be no hazing of any participant involved in any of its Member Programs by any employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant.
Hazing includes any conduct which is intimidating, humiliating, offensive, or physically harmful. The hazing conduct is typically an activity that serves as a condition for joining a group or being socially accepted by a group’s members.
Examples of hazing prohibited by this Policy include, without limitation, requiring or forcing (including through peer pressure) the consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs; tying, taping, or physically restraining a participant; sexual simulations or sexual acts of any nature; sleep deprivation, or the withholding of water and/or food; social actions (e.g. grossly inappropriate or provocative clothing) or public displays (e.g. public nudity) that are illegal or meant to draw ridicule; beating, paddling, or other forms of physical assault. The activity known as “Locker Boxing” (aka fighting with helmet and gloves) is also a form of hazing that can produce head trauma in children and young adults and is prohibited in any USA Hockey Member Program.
Activities that fit the definition of hazing are considered to be hazing regardless of a person’s willingness to cooperate or participate.
Hazing does not include group or team activities that are meant to establish normative team behaviors, or promote team cohesion, so long as such activities do not have reasonable potential to cause emotional or physical distress to any participant. Examples of activities that do not constitute hazing include directing or allowing a younger player to pick up pucks or move nets after practice or bring or fill water bottles, or giving older players first preference in team assignments, responsibilities, accommodations, facilities, or equipment.
While other team members are often the perpetrators of hazing toward their teammates, it is a violation of this Policy if a coach or other responsible adult knows or should know of the hazing but takes no action to intervene on behalf of the targeted participant(s).
A USA Hockey participant or parent of a participant who violates this Hazing Policy is subject to appropriate disciplinary action, including but not limited, to suspension, permanent suspension and/or referral to law enforcement authorities.
LOCKER ROOM POLICY
Youth players are particularly vulnerable in locker rooms, changing areas and restrooms due to various stages of dress/undress and because they are often less supervised than at other times. Athlete-to-athlete problems, such as sexual abuse, bullying, harassment or hazing, often occur when a coach or other responsible adult is not in a position to observe – this is especially true in locker rooms. Adherence to a locker room policy enhances privacy and reduces the likelihood of misconduct. Proper supervision of the locker room areas also helps ensure that players that may have suffered an injury during a game or practice have an adult present to confer with regarding such injury.
Locker Room Supervision
USA Hockey is concerned with locker room activities between minor participants; minor participants and adult participants; adults being alone with individual minor participants in locker rooms; and with non-official or non-related adults having unsupervised access to minor participants at team events.
It is the policy of USA Hockey that all USA Hockey Member Programs have at least one responsible screened adult present directly monitoring the locker room during all team events to assure that only participants (coaches and players), approved team personnel and family members are permitted in the locker room and to supervise the conduct in the locker room. Any individual meetings between a minor participant and a coach or other adult in a locker room shall require that a second responsible adult is present. The responsible adult that monitors and supervises the locker room shall have been screened in compliance with Section III of this Handbook.
Further, responsible adults must also secure the locker room appropriately during times when minor participants are on the ice.
It shall be permissible for a local program or team to prohibit parents from a locker room. However, in doing so the team shall be required to have properly screened adults monitoring and supervising the locker room as required above. With younger players, it is generally appropriate to allow parents to assist the player with getting equipment on and off before and after games or practices and they should be allowed in the locker room to do so.
Cell phones and other mobile devices with recording capabilities, including voice recording, still cameras, and video cameras increase the risk for some forms of abuse or misconduct. As a result, the use of a mobile device’s recording capabilities in the locker rooms is not permitted at any USA Hockey sanctioned event, provided that it may be acceptable to take photographs or recordings in a locker room in such unique circumstances as a victory celebration, team party, etc., where all persons in the locker room are appropriately dressed and have been advised that photographs or recordings are being taken.
All local programs shall publish locker room policies to the parents of all minor participants that are specific to the facilities they regularly use. The local program’s policies shall include the program’s (a) practices for supervising and monitoring locker rooms and changing areas; (b) permission or lack of permission for parents to be in the locker rooms; (c) prohibited conduct, including at least all forms of abuse and misconduct prohibited by USA Hockey; and (d) specific policies regarding the use of mobile electronic devices and phones and prohibiting the use of a device’s recording capabilities. A form with a sample locker room policy may be found at usahockey.com/safesport.
For each team, the coach and/or team administrators shall be responsible for compliance with the locker room supervision requirements of this Policy. A coach and/or team administrator that fails to take appropriate steps to ensure the Locker Room Policy is adhered to, and any USA Hockey participant or parent of a participant who otherwise violates this Policy is subject to appropriate disciplinary action.
Co-Ed Locker Rooms
As a team sport in which youth teams can often include both male and female players, special circumstances may exist that can increase the chance of abuse or misconduct. If the team consists of both male and female players, both female and male privacy rights must be given consideration and appropriate arrangements made. It is not acceptable under USA Hockey’s Sexual Abuse Policy for persons to be observing the opposite gender while they dress or undress. Where possible, the male and female players should undress/dress in separate locker rooms and then convene in a single dressing room prior to the game or team meeting. Once the game is finished, the players may come to one locker room and then the male and female players proceed to their separate dressing rooms to undress and shower (separately), if available. If separate locker rooms are not available, then the genders may take turns using the locker room to change and then leave while the other gender changes. Where possible, when both male and female players are together in the locker room, there should be at least two adults in the locker room that have been properly screened in compliance with USA Hockey Screening Policy.
Please also refer to USA Hockey’s Co-Ed Locker Room Policy set forth in the USA Hockey Annual Guide.
SOCIAL MEDIA, MOBILE & ELECTRONIC COMMUNIATIONS POLICY
As part of USA Hockey’s emphasis on participant safety, communications involving our minor participants should be appropriate, productive, and transparent. Effective communication concerning travel, practice or game schedules, and administrative issues among coaches, administrators, players and their families is critical. However, the use of mobile devices, web-based applications, social media, and other forms of electronic communications increases the possibility for improprieties and misunderstandings and also provides potential offenders with unsupervised and potentially inappropriate access to participants. The improper use of mobile and electronic communications can result in misconduct. Adherence to the Social Media, Mobile and Electronic Communications Policy helps reduce these risks.
All electronic communication between coach and player must be for the purpose of communicating information about team activities. Coaches, players and all team personnel must follow common sense guidelines regarding the volume and time of day of any allowed electronic communication. All content between coaches and players should be readily available to share with the public or families of the player or coach. If the player is under the age of 18, any email, text, social media, or similar communication must also copy or include the player’s parents.
Social media makes it easy to share ideas and experiences. USA Hockey recognizes, however, that social media, mobile and other electronic communications can be especially concerning where minor participants are involved. Coaches are prohibited from having players joined to their personal Facebook page or any other similar social media application. To facilitate communication, an official organization or team page may be set up and players and parents may join (i.e., “friend”) the official organization or team page and coaches can communicate to players though the site. All electronic communication of any kind between coach and player, including use of social media, must be non-personal in nature and be for the purpose of communicating information about team activities or for team oriented motivational purposes.
Email, Text Messaging and Similar Electronic Communications
Coaches, team managers and players may use email and text messaging to communicate. All email and text message content between coaches/team managers and players must be non-personal in nature and be for the purpose of communicating information about team activities. Emails and text messages from a coach to any minor participant must include a copy to parents. Where possible, a coach should be provided and use the organization web site email center (the coach’s return email address will contain “@organization.com”) for all communications with the team and players.
Request To Discontinue All Electronic Communications or Imagery with Athlete
Following receipt of a written request by the parents of a minor player that their child not be contacted by any form of electronic communication by coaches or other adults, the local program, team, coaches and administrators shall immediately comply with such request without any repercussions for such request.
Abuse and Misconduct
Social media and other means of electronic communication can be used to commit abuse and misconduct (e.g., emotional, sexual, bullying, harassment, and hazing). Such communications by any employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant of a USA Hockey Member Program will not be tolerated and are considered violations of USA Hockey’s SafeSport Program.
Infractions of USA Hockey’s Mobile and Electronic Communications Policy should be reported to the appropriate person as described in Section IV of this Handbook concerning reporting.
A USA Hockey participant or parent of a participant who violates this Social Media, Mobile and Electronic Communications Policy is subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, permanent suspension and/or referral to law enforcement authorities.
A significant portion of USA Hockey participation involves overnight travel for youth teams to games and tournaments. Minor players are most vulnerable to abuse or misconduct during travel, particularly overnight stays. This includes a greater risk of player to player misconduct. During travel, players may be away from their families and support networks, and the setting – unfamiliar locker rooms, automobiles, and hotel rooms – is less structured and less familiar. A travel policy provides guidelines so that care is taken to minimize one-onone interactions between minors and adults while traveling. Further, the policy directs how minor players will be supervised between and during travel to and from practice and competitions. Adherence to travel policies helps to reduce the opportunities for misconduct.
Each USA Hockey local program shall have a team travel policy applicable to youth teams that is published and provided to all players, parents, coaches and other adults that are travelling with the team. It is strongly recommended that a signature by each adult acknowledging receipt of and agreeing to the travel policy be obtained by the local program/team. Some travel involves only local travel to and from local practices, games and events, while other travel involves overnight stays. Different policies should apply to these two types of travel. A form with a sample local and overnight travel policy for a local program may be found at usahockey.com/safesport.
Elements of all travel policies must include:
• The local program, team and their administrators should avoid sponsoring, coordinating, or arranging for local travel, and the parents of a minor player should be responsible for making all local travel arrangements.
• The employees, coaches, and/or volunteers of a local program or team, who are not also acting as a parent, should not drive alone with an unrelated minor and should only drive with at least two other players or another adult at all times, unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the minor’s parent.
• Where an employee, coach and/or volunteer is involved in an unrelated minor player’s local travel, efforts should be made to ensure that the adult personnel are not alone with the unrelated player, by, for example, picking up or dropping off the players in groups.
• Employees, coaches and volunteers who are also a player’s parent or guardian may provide shared transportation for any player(s) if they pick up their player first and drop off their player last in any shared or carpool travel arrangement.
• It is recognized that in some limited instances it will be unavoidable for an employee, coach or volunteer of a local program or team to drive alone with an unrelated minor player. However, efforts should be made to minimize these occurrences and to mitigate any circumstances that could lead to allegations of abuse or misconduct.
• Regardless of gender, a coach shall not share a hotel room or other sleeping arrangement with a minor player (unless the coach is the parent, guardian or sibling of the player).
• Because of the greater distances, coaches, staff, volunteers, and chaperones will often travel with the players. No employee, coach, or volunteer will engage in team travel without the proper safety requirements in place and on record, including valid drivers’ licenses, automobile liability insurance as required by applicable state law, vehicle in safe working order and compliance with all state laws. All chaperones shall have been screened in compliance with the USA Hockey Screening Policy and all team drivers shall have been screened and the screen shall include a check of appropriate Department of Motor Vehicle records.
• The local program or team shall provide adequate supervision through coaches and other adult chaperones (for example, a recommended number would include at least one coach or adult chaperone for every five to eight players). If a team is composed of both male and female players, then it is recommended that chaperones are arranged of the same gender.
• Players should share rooms with other players of the same gender, with the appropriate number of players assigned per room depending on accommodations.
• Regular monitoring and curfew checks should be made of each room by at least two properly screened adults. All coaches, staff, volunteers and chaperones travelling with a team shall be familiar with the SafeSport Program Handbook to monitor compliance with all SafeSport Policies.
• The team personnel shall ask hotels to block adult pay per view channels.
• Individual meetings between a player and coach may not occur in hotel sleeping rooms.
• All players shall be permitted to make regular check in phone calls to parents. Team personnel shall allow for any unscheduled check in phone calls initiated by either the player or parents.
• Family members who wish to stay in the team hotel shall be permitted and encouraged to do so.
• The team shall make every effort to accommodate reasonable parental requests when a child is away from home without a parent.
• Specific travel itineraries will be distributed to parents when they are available and will include a detailed itinerary as well as contact information for all team personnel and chaperones.
• If disciplinary action against a player is required while the player is traveling without his/her parents, parents will be notified before any action is taken.
• No coach or chaperone shall at any time be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while performing their coaching and/or chaperoning duties.
• In all cases involving travel, parents have the right to transport their minor player and have the minor player stay in their hotel room.