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AAU implements measures to ensure safety of youth athletes

In the wake of the child sexual abuse scandals at Penn State and Horace Mann School, the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) has announced comprehensive measures designed to protect the well-being of hundreds of thousands of young athletes.

The steps include requiring that all adults involved in AAU activities—from volunteer coaches to AAU staff—undergo detailed background checks; adopting clear policies and procedures designed to ensure that young athletes are never left alone with individual adults; and requiring all AAU volunteers and staff to report any incidents of suspected child abuse to law enforcement and to officials of the AAU and related sports clubs.

“The new steps the AAU is taking will safeguard children participating in amateur sports across the country, so that we can continue our proud philosophy of ‘Sports for All, Forever,’ ” said national AAU President Louis Stout. “These new steps are not being implemented because we suspect anyone – rather, we must make these changes because we expect everyone to be willing to help us build a deeper trust and culture of safety.”

The AAU is basing their course of action on a 31-page report issued by two independent task forces—made up of nationally recognized experts in child protection and law enforcement—offered 42 recommendations for changes in AAU policies, procedures and protocols, all designed to make young athletes safer. The recommendations cover six broad subject areas: culture, protocols, screening, participation, training and reporting.

Stout said the recommendation likely to have the most immediate impact is the requirement for background screening of AAU staff and of AAU volunteers at the club level. Depending on the person, the background check could take just a few minutes or several days to complete.

“Every adult who wants to volunteer or wants to be involved with AAU athletes will be screened,” said James Parker, director of operations for the AAU. “This screening process will be an effective deterrent to keep the bad guys away.”

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