LEAWOOD, Kan. (Nexstar Media Wire) – With youth sports booming, safety is top of mind. Now, three organizations are teaming up to draw the line on predator behavior in youth sports.
The goal is to promote positive relationships between adults and players and protect them against bad behavior.
“We just want to make sure that people are protecting themselves,” said Douglas Parisi, director of training at SafeDefend.
Parisi said it’s about preparing for the possibility.
SafeDefend teams up with the “Not Your Daughter” organization and the Kansas Youth Soccer Association to knock out child predators and spot grooming tactics.
“We think giving them the tools to help identify or kind of look for situations will help them,” Executive Director of Kansas State Youth Soccer Association Joe Burger said.
Burger said Kansas Soccer has 35,000 members, including coaches, referees and players ages 9-19.
The group’s Olympic development program, serving 600 athletes, will require all 30 coaches to go through training in August.
“The vast majority of coaches are out there for honorable reasons, Parisi said. “But what is so hard, is that there’s a fine line between a good coach and somebody that is taking advantage of students, athletes.“
In training they learn about limiting physical contact – sticking to high fives and fist bumps, according to Parisi.
They also talk about what is appropriate over the phone and on social media.
“Coaches need to know if you’re going to reach out to an athlete, parents need to be included in that,” Parisi said.
Burger said they plan to offer programs to parents and players.
Parisi has 20 years of experience in law enforcement.
Although rare, he knows these things do happen.
His goal, to make sure no one drops the ball.
“It is rare, but if you have no procedures in place, if you haven’t done your due diligence in ahead of time, something like this can be devastating to the coach, the player and organization,” Parisi said, “that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”