Educating Youth Coaches on Sexual Abuse and Assault – a Priority for United Soccer Coaches and MOCSA

The statistics are horrifying – one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused during childhood. It is time we all take responsibility for what we can change — and United Soccer Coaches is taking a leadership position on this important issue.

“In the era of Larry Nassar and the #MeToo movement, we want to be a leader in making our sport a safe,” said Lynn Berling-Manuel, Chief Executive Officer of United Soccer Coaches.

United Soccer Coaches and the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) announced a new partnership today, in which they will work together to develop new educational resources and training programs on the issues of sexual abuse and assault for more than 30,000 soccer coaches nationwide. The partnership is a direct result of a recent grant awarded to MOCSA by Raliance, a collaborative initiative to end sexual violence in one generation, made possible through a commitment from the National Football League (NFL).

“SEXUAL ABUSE AND ASSAULT ARE SOMETHING EVERYONE HAS TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT AND COACHES ARE A CRITICAL LINK,” SAID BERLING-MANUEL.

“Safety is always our priority and we are proud to have the opportunity to work together with MOCSA to ensure our coaches have access to the best resources and training to help protect themselves and the athletes they serve.”

“Important information, valuable tool, and useful resources are central to what our member coaches expect from us and this program will give them exactly what they need,” said Berling-Manuel.

Coincidentally, this announcement also falls on the heels of a new federal law (Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017) that was signed and immediately put into effect on February 14, 2018. The new law requires coaches to report any suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse, within 24 hours. Any individual who is required, but fails, to report suspected child abuse will now be subject to criminal penalties.

“This new legislation is certainly a great step in the right direction for elevating the conversation and holding more people accountable for protecting children and teenagers, however, the resources and education are still critical to success,” said Melanie Austin, Director of Education for MOCSA. “I’m confident our partnership with United Soccer Coaches will make a significant impact on soccer coaches and the positive future of the sport as a whole.”

Part of the new programming developed by MOCSA and United Soccer Coaches will work to educate coaches on the new legislative requirements and provide actionable resources to ensure compliance.

Founded in 1975, MOCSA has a long history of providing sexual violence prevention and education programming from youth to adults. Its education staff has vast experience with curriculum development and providing sexual violence education on the local, state and national levels.

ONE IN SIX WOMEN WILL BE THE VICTIM OF COMPLETED OR ATTEMPTED RAPE IN HER LIFETIME.

And, according to MOCSA, less than 20 percent of all rapes are reported. Moreover, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused during childhood.

United Soccer Coaches works closely with its internal member communities and other partners to provide a collection of interactive courses and other resources on a variety of topics outside of soccer-specific training. One of these recently included an ‘LGBT Diversity and Inclusion’ course, developed by its LGBT and Allies Member Community, to provide coaches with information on working with athletes who identify as LGBT.

United Soccer Coaches plans to begin rolling out the new sexual abuse and assault resources and training programs together with MOCSA in April, which happens to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

MOCSA has served as the sole rape crisis center for the greater Kansas City metropolitan area since 1975.