Protecting Gymnasts From Predators – Part 2



If you have not read Part 1 in this series, click here.

But what else can be done?

Well, club management can also play a large role in ensuring your child’s safety while under the supervision of their employees and/or while in their facility.

I say “employees” instead of coaches because coaches are not the only adults in a gym that come into contact with children.  Employees can include coaches, instructors, the front office staff, bus drivers, after school staff, party staff, maintenance staff, and more.

The first thing that club management can do to help protect their gymnasts is to run background checks on all potential new hires and on current employees, if they have not already done so.

There are many companies and websites that a gym can use to run background checks.  Unfortunately, for both a small gym or a gym with many employees, running background checks can be expensive, but I think the results of the background checks can far outweigh the initial costs. wrote a great article called Best Background Check Services 2016 that outlines some of the best websites and organizations that run background checks based on your individual business needs.

The other option for background screening can be to require all coaching staff to obtain their Jr. Professional or Professional membership with USA Gymnastics.  Both these memberships require a background screening for anyone 18 years and older.  While non-instructional staff will have to get background screenings done outside of USA Gymnastics.  The cost of the memberships or background screenings can be reimbursed after one year of employment.

It is important for a businesses to review all background check guidelines on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website prior to running them.


But the biggest thing a club can do to help protect your gymnast is to educate their staff!

As mentioned previously, USA Gymnastics provides some great educational tools to help better educate coaches on child abuse detection and prevention.  This can be accomplished by coaches completing the Safety & Risk Management and/or the Stewards of Children courses.  Completing these courses can be part of the hiring process!

In addition, gyms can contact Darkness to Light to take part in face to face trainings for the Stewards of Children course.

More importantly, gym management can regularly monitor class and team practices for potential situations that put a gymnast and coach in a situation that may not be the safest for either of them.  This can include private lessons in an empty gym, private lessons in an area that is not easily observable, staff members and gymnast in the restroom at the same time, and not allowing an adult to be alone behind closed doors with a gymnast.



Related Articles:

Protecting Gymnasts From Predators – Part 1

Protecting Gymnasts From Predators – Part 3

Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse

USA Gymnastics Receives Sexual Assault Lawsuit Filed Against Them



2 thoughts on “Protecting Gymnasts From Predators – Part 2

  1. Bella says:

    I struggle to comprehend how the courses and background checks are a choice. In the UK anyone who comes into contact with or wants to work with children (*& vulnerable adults) has to go through a full background check BEFORE hand and BY LAW. How can these measures be viewed as optional or even best practice & not vital/ essential/ compulsory?

    • Vinnie Silber says:

      Very good question. Hopefully the lawsuit filed against USA Gymnastics will make a dramatic change in their policies!

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