Ask the Questions

For Parents

Parent’s Guide to Misconduct in Sport

Designed for the parents of athletes of all ages, this course explains the issues of misconduct in sport and helps parents ensure their children have a positive and safe sport experience.

Parent’s Guide to Misconduct in Sport

Selecting the right sport and club for your child is about more than athletic development or playing time. Parents should do their homework – to learn about a club’s reputation and its policies and procedures to protect all athletes. By understanding the components of an effective plan to handle misconduct, you will be empowered to ask the right questions, spot potential risks and have conversations with your child to monitor activities.

When selecting a sport club or program for your child, an important factor to consider is whether the administrators and organizers have developed a strategy to address misconduct. While the existence of a plan is a positive step, how coaches, volunteers and staff enforce those policies is crucial.

As a parent, you should get straightforward answers to these basic questions before allowing your child to participate.

NEW Parent Tool Kits

Complete Parent Toolkit
Parents of Preschool Children
Parents of School-Age Children
Parents of Middle School Youth
Parents of High School Aged Adolescents

Additional resources can be accessed online at

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Critical information to help keep every program safe: Everyone will perform better, soar higher, and get more from sport if they feel safe. This SafeSport online training program teaches the nature of misconduct in sport: how to recognize it, how to prevent it and how to take action.

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Make the Difference

Recognizing misconduct in sport is critical; implementing the right policies and communicating them to all members of the sport community is the next challenge. While every situation is different, you don’t need to start from scratch.

When everyone - clubs, coaches, staff and parents - understands his/her role, we can work as a team to protect athletes and create the best conditions for sport.


USA Volleyball is committed to fostering a fun, healthy, and safe environment for all its members. We must recognize the safety of our minors lies with all those involved in the sport and is not the sole responsibility of any one person at a club, regional, or national level.

  1. Education is the most important tool for combatting misconduct. Look for resources that can help you understand how abuse occurs and what you can do about it. You should be able to recognize signs of grooming behavior and boundary violations and what to do when you suspect a child’s safety is at risk.
  2. It is important to establish healthy boundaries between athletes and coaches and have clear expectations about the coach’s role. A coach can often serve as a teacher, a mentor, or a role model for a young person. A coach is not an athlete’s friend, peer, or romantic partner. Teams and youth sport organizations should spell out prohibited behaviors to ensure strong and safe boundaries between adults and athletes.
  3. For misconduct to take place, an offender needs privacy, access, and control. One way to reduce the risk for abuse is to design strategies for addressing these high-risk areas, which include travel, locker rooms, and electronic communications. Teams should adopt policies that spell out expectations and create boundaries.
  4. If you recognize questionable behaviors, say something! Your youth sports organization should designate someone – a coach, the team administration, or a parent advocate – who is there to hear your concerns or take a report of inappropriate behavior. Make sure that everyone knows that person.
  5. Physical and sexual misconduct can be a hard topic for parents to talk about with their children. Having these conversations is extremely important in helping prevent your child from becoming a victim of abuse. Having ongoing and open conversations with children about their bodies and appropriate boundaries will make it easier for them to talk to you if anyone is making them feel uncomfortable.

Healthy Sexual Development from Age 6 to Age 18

Age 6 to 8

  • Develop strong friendships with children of the same sex
  • Desire to be like their peers
  • React to stories they hear in the media (AIDS, abuse, violence)
  • Engage in name-calling and teasing
  • Increase their ideas about male and female roles
  • Continue body exploring activities
  • Have a basic sexual orientation and identity
  • Begin and/or continue to masturbate

Age 9 to 12

  • Onset of puberty
  • Grow more modest and want privacy
  • Value same-sex friendships
  • Experience increased sexual feelings and fantasies
  • Develop romantic feelings toward same sex and/or the opposite sex
  • Explore sexual activities with peers
  • May masturbate to orgasm
  • Face decisions about sex

Age 13 to 18

  • Continue and complete changes of puberty
  • Value independence
  • Experience increased sexual feelings and want physical closeness with a partner
  • Continue to face decisions about sex
  • Choose romantic relationships over close friendships
  • May encounter violence in relationships

Range of Sexual Behaviors: Common Sexual Play to Problematic Sexual Behavior

Sexual Play

  • Is exploratory and spontaneous
  • Occurs occasionally and by mutual agreement
  • Takes place with children of similar ages, sizes, or developmental levels
  • Decreases when children are told the rules, mildly restricted, well supervised, and praised for appropriate behavior
  • Is controlled by increased supervision

Problematic Sexual Behavior

  • Is a frequent, repeated behavior
  • Occurs between children who do not know one another well
  • Occurs with high frequency and interferes with normal childhood activities
  • Is between children of different ages, sizes, and developmental levels
  • Is aggressive, forced, or coerce
  • Does not decrease after the child is told to stop
  • Causes harm to the child and others

Article From the Huffington Post

As a school counselor and educator on Bullying Prevention, I am privileged to meet with teachers, administrators, counselors, parents, and students from across the United States and Canada, who generously share with me personal experiences with bullying in their schools and communities. I'm not embarrassed to tell you that I frequently cry right along with parents and kids as they detail accounts of relentless cruelty, coupled with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. The common-ness of it all routinely astounds me with every new story I hear; the pervasive cruelty makes my jaw drop every time I listen.

Read More

1. Targeting the Victim

The offender targets a victim by sizing up the child’s vulnerability – emotional neediness, isolation and lower self-confidence. Children with less parental oversight are more desirable prey.

2. Gaining the Victim’s Trust

The offender gains trust by watching and gathering information about the child, getting to know his needs and how to fill them. In this regard, sex offenders mix effortlessly with responsible caretakers because they generate warm and calibrated attention. Only more awkward and overly personal attention, or a gooey intrusiveness, provokes the suspicion of parents. Otherwise, a more suave sex offender is better disciplined for how to push and poke, without revealing themselves.

3. Filling a Need

Once the offender begins to fill the child’s needs, that adult may assume noticeably more importance in the child’s life and may become idealized. Gifts, extra attention, affection may distinguish one adult in particular and should raise concern and greater vigilance to be accountable for that adult.

4. Isolating the Child

The grooming sex offender uses the developing special relationship with the child to create situations in which they are alone together. This isolation further reinforces a special connection.

A special relationship can be even more reinforced when an offender cultivates a sense in the child that he is loved or appreciated in a way that others, not even parents, provide. Parents may unwittingly feed into this through their own appreciation for the unique relationship.

5. Sexualizing the Relationship

At a stage of sufficient emotional dependence and trust, the offender progressively sexualizes the relationship. Desensitization occurs through talking, pictures, even creating situations (like going swimming) in which both the offender and victim are naked. At that point, the adult exploits a child’s natural curiosity, using feelings of stimulation to advance the sexuality of the relationship.

When teaching a child, the grooming sex offender has the opportunity to shape the child’s sexual preferences and can manipulate what a child finds exciting and extend the relationship in this way. The child comes to see himself as a more sexual being and to define the relationship with the offender in more sexual and special terms.

6. Maintaining Control

Once the sexual abuse is occurring, offenders commonly use secrecy and blame to maintain the child’s continued participation and silence – particularly because the sexual activity may cause the child to withdraw from the relationship. Children in these entangled relationships – and at this point they are entangled – confront threats to blame them, to end the relationship and toe end the emotional and material needs they associate with the relationship. The child may feel that the loss of the relationship and the consequences of exposing it will humiliate and render them even more unwanted.


About USA Volleyball

USA Volleyball (USAV) is the National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of volleyball in the United States and is recognized by the Federation International de Volleyball (FIVB) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). The vision of USA Volleyball is to be acknowledged as the world leader in volleyball.

USA Volleyball is committed to and works toward opportunity for all to participate. It is an advocate for all Americans endeavoring to assure universal access to opportunities at all levels of the game. If you have any questions, please contact USA Volleyball.

U.S. Center for SafeSport

1385 South Colorado Boulevard
Suite A-706
Denver, CO

SafeSport Inquiry

USA Volleyball

4065 Sinton Road
Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO

719 228 6800

USA Volleyball SafeSport
Report Abuse

Reporting Abuse

Please note that there are a number of options and requirements to report abuse.

Report to law enforcement immediately if you are aware of abuse. If abuse includes sexual misconduct report to both law enforcement and the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

Click here for a list (by state) of where to report.

Click here to report to the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

For any other forms of misconduct including: physical misconduct, emotional misconduct, bullying, hazing, and or harassment report to USA Volleyball. Call 1-855-306-7775 or complete the form below to report abuse..

By submitting the form below, you are giving permission to USA Volleyball's SafeSport Program staff to contact you. Your report will be sent to the appropriate region for review and action. Although USA Volleyball accepts anonymous reporting be aware that doing so limits the ability to investigate and respond.

Out of respect for the importance of this issue and to encourage honest and effective reporting, knowingly making a false or malicious report will not be tolerated and may be a violation of USA Volleyball's Code of Conduct.

Call 1-855-306-7775 or complete the form below to report abuse

Report Abuse Form

1. Person Being Reported

Provide as much information as possible about the person you are reporting.

First Name:*

Last Name:*

Age or Approximate Age:


Club Affiliation (or none):*

Position(s) this individual holds or held:*

2. Alleged Offense Information

Provide as much specific information as you are able.

Type of Offense (select all that apply):*

Location that the incident(s) took place. Enter unknown or city, state, specific location:*

Date(s) of Alleged Offense:

Description of Alleged Offense (include as much detail as possible):*

Knowledge of victim(s) involved in the alleged offense:

3. Victim or Victims

If you are the victim and wish to remain anonymous, you may do so. In that case, please enter your name as Anonymous. You may also be unaware of who the victim is. In that case, please enter Unknown.

First Name:*

Last Name:*

Age or Approximate Age:


Club Affiliation (or none):

Additional Information:

4. Additional Victims

Fill this section out if additional victims are involved.

First Name:

Last Name:

Age or Approximate Age:


Club Affiliation (or none):

Additional Information:

5. Individual(s) Who May Have Additional Information

List anyone who may be able to provide additional information regarding the alleged offense. We will not identify you when we contact these individuals.

First Name:

Last Name:

Phone(include area code):

E-mail Address:

Club Affiliation (or none):

First Name:

Last Name:

Phone(include area code):

E-mail Address:

Club Affiliation (or none):

6. Report Submitted By

You may remain anonymous if you wish. However, providing your information is vastly helpful to a swift and effective investigation. All reports are kept strictly confidential by Safe Sport Program staff. A person reporting alleged misconduct should not fear any retribution and/or consequence when filing a report he/she believes is true. Retaliation of a report made in good faith is a violation of the USA Volleyball Code of Conduct.

First Name:*

Last Name:*

Phone(include area code):

E-mail Address:*

USA Volleyball Member:


Relationship to victim (if any):*

7. Other Information

Enter any other information that you feel would be helpful to an investigation of the alleged offense you have reported.

Other Information:

SafeSport Training Course

To Register for SafeSport training:

  1. Go to
  2. Log in to your USAV account
  3. In the navigation menu, click on USAV Clinics and select USAV Coaching Clinics
  4. Select SafeSport On-Demand: Two-Season Certification
  5. Complete registration
  6. To access coursework, click on the Log into USAV Academy button

Should you need to return to your coursework at a later time, log in to your USAV account and click on the Log into USAV Academy button.

For technical issues, while completing the course, please visit: