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#WeRideTogether: Eliminating Sexual Abuse In Sports At Every Level

CrewLAB believes in championing lifelong enjoyment and achievement in sports – by rallying the world’s largest community of coaches and making breakthrough tech available to all teams. CrewLAB understands the necessity of safeguarding and provides a unique moderated environment for teams to engage digitally while mitigating the risk of abuse via a transparent communication hub for teams, allowing for a positive culture to flourish. 

 

Dear CrewLAB community,

‍My name is Michaela Callie, and I am delighted to serve as the Executive Director for #WeRideTogether. From my professional and recreational experiences as an athlete across many sports, I can attest to the importance of protecting the integrity of all sports environments. These environments bring us joy, better us as individuals, and become our homes. Part of my role includes sharing how #WeRideTogether uniquely meets the current needs of athletes at every level in every boathouse, field, court, arena, and beyond. My hope and greatest intention is that our work helps nurture safe and healthy sport so that future generations never have to miss a game, leave practice early, or abandon sport altogether due to fear of abuse.  

Our Assessment

Every day parents drop their kids off at Little League, swim team, the tennis courts, and at local gyms across the country, assuming their children are safe and with a trustworthy coach. The reality – 50% of athletes experience sexual harassment or some other form of abuse, and these perpetrators are not strangers. 90% of victims know their abuser. Daily headlines chronicle abuse, grooming, and hazing that plague and endanger our athletes across every level of sport. There are over 27 million children who play sports in the United States. SafeSport only applies to 11 million individuals (minors and adults) throughout the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement. That leaves well over 16 million children (ages 6-17) with severely limited, if any, oversight.  If we think about youth athletes in the United States alone, over 13 million children (ages 6-17) will be subject to sexual harassment or abuse. 

 

Our Mission 

#WeRideTogether was created to shine a light on the endemic issue of sexual abuse in youth and amateur sports. Our mission is to make youth and amateur sport environments safer for all athletes. We believe sport should be the safest and healthiest place for children and young adults to grow and flourish, and that every individual has the right to learn, play, and compete without fear of sexual abuse. We are committed to creating the radical change needed to fulfill that vision by addressing education and awareness, creating a safe place for survivors to find resources and share their voices, and eliminating the stigma around these necessary conversations.‍

We serve all members of every type of athletic community. This means that we can serve individuals who fall under the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement, as well as individuals who fall outside of this umbrella. In other words, all athletic community members, including the 16+ million children who are not covered by SafeSport, have #WeRideTogether as a resource for awareness, education, and prevention materials, healing support, and other information.

 

Our Approach

At #WeRideTogether, we provide evidence-based, professional, educational, ethical, compassionate, creative, inclusive, celebratory, and advocatory services. Heart-centered and mind-driven, our team commits to improving athletic communities in a sustainable and socially responsible manner. By focusing on current research, integrating insights from our trusted partners, and most importantly listening to athletes and survivors across all sports, #WeRideTogether delivers trustworthy and timely solutions. ‍

We aim to complement the work and positions of other organizations in this space by offering athlete-centered services that focus on awareness, prevention, and support. According to the CDC, little investment has been made in primary prevention of sexual abuse. #WeRideTogether is filling the gap in primary prevention and access to resources, while serving as a bridge to other organizations that focus on services outside of our immediate scope, including, but not limited to, legislation, reporting, and legal counsel.

Our Services

#WeRideTogether is uniquely positioned to provide support to all sports on a global scale. We believe in celebrating and providing individualized support to all members of athletic communities. We focus on creating resources that are survivor- and trauma- informed, as well as serving as a bridge to already existing, valuable resources. And all of our services are pro bono.

While we are continuously expanding our services, our core offerings include:

  • Providing educational presentations to athletes of all ages, coaches, parents, and organizations
  • Creating preventative, inclusive, and curated resources and materials specific to athletic communities
  • Collaborating with athletic organizations, ranging from grassroots organizations to national and international governing bodies, to best serve their members with creative, current, and impactful tools
  • Connecting athletes, survivors, coaches, parents, and organizations to best practices, crisis resources, healing support, and information on reporting and justice procedures

We all play a role in promoting and maintaining safe and healthy sport. Prevention and awareness are our greatest assets in terms of protecting and empowering coaches and athletes. 

 

Our Resources

#WeRideTogether has created several tools that can be used to provide guidance and support for coaches, athletes, and parents. Continue reading below to learn more about some of our resources.

  • PSAs: As part of our mission to provide education and increase awareness related to sexual misconduct in athletics, #WeRideTogether continuously produces and publishes public service announcements (PSAs). These short videos provide viewers with easy-to-understand information and tools regarding eliminating sexual misconduct in sport. Please watch and share our PSAs with fellow athletes, coaches, parents, and athletic organizations!
  • Blog: The #WeRideTogether Blog is a reliable repository of written resources, providing easily accessible, straightforward, conversational knowledge. Our blog's content represents the voices of counselors, prosecutorial law enforcement professionals, attorneys, SafeSport investigators, public health professionals, child protection specialists, victim advocates, parents, survivors, and other qualified experts. Article topics include reporting, healing from trauma, education and awareness on sexual misconduct, sport-specific content, and more, all in the areas that survivors and their loved ones need information on the most.
  • Power Imbalances: A key part of safeguarding in sports is being aware of the power imbalances at play in athletic spaces. A power imbalance exists when one person holds authority over the other. In sports, power imbalances can occur among athletes and between athletes and their coaches, trainers, and medical professionals. To safeguard our athletes and preserve the integrity of our sports, we must empower all members of our athletic communities with healthy and effective boundaries. It’s up to all of us to ensure those in power are kept in check, and that relationships are safe and respectful—for coaches and athletes.
  • Grooming: Learn to recognize the six stages of grooming. Grooming sets the stage for abuse. It is a gradual and insidious process that can last months or even years—and, in most cases, abusers target parents and caregivers as intentionally as they do their young victims.
  • Safe, Active Bystander Intervention: Creating and maintaining safe athletic environments is a team sport - and we all have a role to play. Athletes, parents, coaches, and staff can all serve as active bystanders, furthering this healthy environment. By intervening when you see misconduct or abuse occur, you interrupt negative behavior patterns as they happen and emphasize best practices in prevention. This establishes crucial individual and group desires to change norms and expectations of how we all treat each other in the world of sport and beyond. Intervention additionally shows empathy and support for the person experiencing the harmful behavior. Watch the PSA, and download the Safe, Active Bystander Intervention Handout (S.A.B.I. Handout) and the Safe, Active Bystander Intervention Infographic (S.A.B.I. Infographic) to review examples of safe, active bystander intervention and best practices. 
  • C.A.R.D. Diagrams: The Coach Athlete Relationship Dynamics Diagrams (C.A.R.D. Diagrams) help coaches, athletes, parents, and bystanders recognize and identify patterns of healthy and unhealthy relationship dynamics. These diagrams can be used as a gut check; think about conduct you experience and observe in your sporting community and discern if what is occurring aligns with a caring and supportive coach/athlete relationship. If you are experiencing or observing patterns of power and control, you can find additional information, including confidential helplines, sexual assault reporting procedures, and mental health resources, on our Crisis Resources page.
  • Athlete Toolkit: Developing and possessing your own Athlete Toolkit serves as mental and emotional preparation to safeguard and support yourself in the face of potential misconduct and abuse that you or a teammate may experience. The tools listed in this article are all things that can build ahead of time during moments of peace and strength, separate from any moment of crisis.
  • Survivor Stories: Survivors are increasingly stepping forward to bravely tell their stories. They’ve turned the lights on in a dark tunnel—and they're illuminating the way to a safer future. The following stories reflect the participants’ personal experiences, as told by them, and may be triggering for individuals who have experienced sexual abuse or misconduct.
  • Crisis Resources: Hotline and reporting information.
  • Coach Athlete Pledge: The Coach Athlete Pledge, a commitment to maintaining healthy training environments, summarizes 10 best practices to ensure that future generations of athletes have safe and positive experiences. The pledge serves as a valuable document that helps ensure all parties—athletes, parents, and coaches—understand the expected standards of behavior.
  • Current Events: Unfortunately, news articles chronicling misconduct in sport and unhealthy coach-athlete dynamics are not few and far between. Sexual abuse in sport has been occurring for decades, and the public is now becoming aware of these hidden situations as more and more survivors bravely disclose and report misconduct they have experienced. Efforts must still be made to improve the efficacy of the justice system, to increase resources for survivors healing from trauma, to reduce victim and parent shaming and blaming, and to decrease stigma. #WeRideTogether is committed to increasing awareness and continually updates this compiled list of current events on the topic of sexual abuse in sport. Sexual misconduct is happening across all sports, at all levels, internationally.

See you on the water, ‍

Michaela Callie, MBA

Executive Director of #WeRideTogether
mcallie@weridetogether.today

Michaela Callie, MBA

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