Sep 06, 2018

Letter from US Equestrian President and CEO Regarding Safe Sport

By USEF - Press Release

Dear US Equestrian Members,

US Equestrian believes the safety and welfare of our members, especially our children, is of paramount importance and that all members must be kept safe from abuse of all kinds. Abuse has no place in our sport or in our lives. We are the guardians of our sport and it is our collective responsibility to raise awareness and educate each other on the behaviors associated with abuse, both sexual and non-sexual. This year, top equestrian athlete Anne Kursinski shared her powerful personal story of abuse by a person she trusted. To help ensure this abuse doesn’t happen to others, Anne has partnered with US Equestrian to raise awareness of the reporting, support and training resources available through US Equestrian and the U.S. Center for SafeSport. Please click the play button below to view an important video message from Anne.

US Equestrian embarked on building a robust Safe Sport Program starting in 2013, years before Safe Sport became a household term in equestrian sport. During the process of expanding our program, the leadership and Board have been called upon many times to take the lead in creating awareness, reporting methods, education, survivor support, training, and other resources. You will be proud to know that, recently, the Board once again took the reins and approved a requirement that, starting January 1, 2019, all adult members (18 years of age and older) who have a USEF Competing Membership must complete the Safe Sport training. This is a major milestone in our efforts to unite our equestrian community in preventing abuse. The core training consists of three modules which take approximately 90 minutes to complete.

Safe Sport education for all members and parents of our junior members is essential to protecting each other, understanding when and how to report, and recognizing the signs in order to prevent abuse before it occurs. US Equestrian provides numerous resources to further your education and participation in the Safe Sport movement. Here are some of the resources available at www.usef.org/safesport:

  • Safe Sport training – FREE to all US Equestrian members. Three modules take just under 90 minutes to complete initially, with a 30-minute refresher training annually;
  • A suspended and banned list that identifies the person by name and the reason for their suspension or ban;
  • The U.S. Center for SafeSport has partnered with RAINN to provide a 24-hour victim services hotline, reached at 1.866.200.0796;
  • The new USEF Safe Sport Directory is a searchable database to help individuals, parents, athletes, and others in our sport find the people within our industry who have completed the Safe Sport training and/or a criminal background check;
  • Safe Sport FAQs and Safe Sport training FAQs on our Safe Sport webpage;
  • Town Halls and Affiliate meetings to raise awareness, educate, and field questions;
  • Expanding our recently launched #YouAreNotAlone campaign, including providing campaign materials to competition organizers to utilize at competitions;
  • Developing Learning Center educational video content and PSAs for use by USEF, Affiliates ,and competitions;
  • Expanding the monitoring of USEF and Affiliate Safe Sport compliance; and
  • Hiring additional support staff as needed for the Safe Sport Program.

Additionally, many of our members spend their weekends at competitions, and to make certain that we are providing you with the resources you need when you are attending shows, we have just launched the #YouAreNotAlone campaign. US Equestrian will be providing competition organizers with a Safe Sport Toolkit that includes posters with reporting resources, public address announcements, video PSAs, and competitor information. Working with our competition organizers, US Equestrian will bring reporting, education, and support resources directly to you at the competition. We want you to know that you are not alone, and we are here to help.

Clear communication on all things related to Safe Sport is important to achieving our mission to raise awareness, assist you with reporting, increase education and provide support. Recently, we sent a hard copy letter accompanied by our USEF Safe Sport Handbook to the parents of our junior members. We strongly believe parents are an integral part of our efforts to prevent abuse. While the U. S. Center for SafeSport’s parental awareness training is available at no cost, we encourage you to join US Equestrian by using the code Parents18 to become a free Fan Member. By providing us with your unique email address, you allow us to more efficiently communicate with you, and through your Fan Membership, you can gain access to all the Safe Sport resources, as well as numerous member benefits and discounts.

In addition to the resources offered by US Equestrian and the Center, it is extremely important that you are aware of legislation signed in February by President Trump, Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017. It requires amateur sports organizations and their members to report sex-abuse allegations involving minors to local or federal law enforcement, or to a child-welfare agency designated by the Justice Department, within 24 hours. Failure to do so is a crime.

Not only is reporting the right thing to do, it is critical to creating a safe environment for athletes and members. Sexual and non-sexual misconduct have two distinct reporting processes:

  1. All sexual misconduct should be reported directly to the U.S. Center for SafeSport by phone 720-524-5640 or online at www.safesport.org.
  2. All non-sexual misconduct or violations of the Safe Sport Policy should be reported directly to US Equestrian. Reports through US Equestrian can be submitted using the USEF Incident Report Form, or by email or phone to Teresa Roper, Safe Sport Program Coordinator, [email protected], 859-225-6915, Sonja Keating, General Counsel, [email protected], 859-225-2045, or Emily Pratt, [email protected], 859-225-6956.

Both the U.S. Center for SafeSport and US Equestrian will accept anonymous reports, but please note that it can be very difficult to investigate anonymous complaints.

The safety of our members and the future of our sport are dependent on how all of us act. Together, we will make a difference and we will make our sport a place where safety is the norm and abuse finds no home. We hope you will embrace this call to action and join us in our efforts to eradicate abuse in our sport.

Please contact our legal department, which handles all Safe Sport inquiries at [email protected] should you have any questions or need assistance.

Sincerely,

Murray S. Kessler, President
William J. Moroney, Chief Executive Officer

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