CAHA stands firm on SafeSport protocols
The California Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) isn’t solely focused on the training and development of its players on the ice; off-ice safety is also a high priority.
SafeSport is a program designed to look out for players by implementing child protection safeguards within both CAHA and USA Hockey. Ensuring the safety of hockey players off the ice is the objective, and creating a culture where personnel, children and CAHA members feel confident and comfortable speaking out on issues ranging from sexual, physical and emotional abuse to bullying, hazing and other threats and harassment will help eliminate dangerous situations.
Ultimately, SafeSport provides training and guidance to help protect players, coaches and volunteers alike.
“Everyone has to do an online module in addition to having a written SafeSport policy and procedure,” said Chris Hathaway, a board member with CAHA and president of the California Cougars organization in Cupertino. “Everyone that’s on the roster or that comes into contact with the kids has to take this training module.
“We also took it one step further, so just like your in-person coaches and referees seminars, we require at least one representative from every team in the state to attend the SafeSport meeting, which is put on by CAHA member and SafeSport coordinator Lance Burrow, who’s also an attorney, and Jaime Campbell, who also serves on the SafeSport committee.”
The Safesport program brings together various policies and procedures already in place within USA Hockey that are specifically designed to protect participants.
Those existing policies are then combined with several components to make a comprehensive program that includes training, reporting and follow-up, response protocols, as well as monitoring and supervision procedures.
The program is designed to provide clear guidelines and expectations for all players, coaches and organization members on abuse- or misconduct-prevention strategies, appropriate behavior, effective response to concerns and training and education.
“It’s sometimes hard to draw a line between kids being kids and having fun and doing a little bit of teasing, and something that would be constituted as hazing,” said Hathaway. “But when in doubt, we definitely err on the side of caution.
“If nothing else, SafeSport makes it a huge deterrent for a coach or someone with questionable intentions to come into our sport knowing the protocols that are in place, and that’s good.”
Hathaway points out that while SafeSport does its job when it comes to preventing potential coaches or managers who are known offenders from getting involved, it’s still important for parents, kids and CAHA coaches and managers to be working together to constantly have clear lines of communication.
“Between background screening checks and SafeSport policies and procedures, anyone that’s been convicted of any sort of crime has zero chance of getting on a roster in any capacity,” said Hathaway. “SafeSport is 100 percent fail-proof, unless somebody doesn’t have a record yet.
“But we like to stress that, just because we go to extensive measures to protect players, parents still need to be talking with their kids and paying attention to what their kids are doing.”
Implemented prior to the 2013-14 season, Hathaway says the program has consistently been used as a benchmark for other hockey associations across the country, and CAHA regularly works with USA Hockey to provide examples for how the program has taken off in California.
“The seminars we did this year were videotaped, and USA Hockey is going to start using that as additional training for everybody,” said Hathaway. “So we’re kind ahead of the curve, and what’s nice is we have someone heading it up in Lance who knows the law, and knows what you can and cannot do.
“Some people would be surprised what you can’t do.”
– John B. Spigott