MODEL POLICY: ANTI‐BULLYING
The following is a model procedure to implement the USA Swimming rule prohibiting bullying, which is provided to assist USA Swimming member clubs in developing their own procedure.
USA Swimming clubs are required to have an action plan to address and prevent bullying, and the plan must be reviewed with and agreed to by all athletes, parents, coaches and other adults at the club. If a club chooses not to, or is unable to, create a written action plan, the following model plan will become the default plan for that club, and the club will be expected to implement these procedures when reports of bullying are made. Once a customized plan is developed and approved by your club, the default plan will no longer apply. Each member club has the responsibility to approve and implement its action plan.
Anti‐Bullying Policy of Dart Frog Aquatics
Bullying of any kind is unacceptable at Dart Frog Aquatics and will not be tolerated. Bullying is counterproductive to team spirit and can be devastating to a victim. The Club is committed to providing a safe, caring and friendly environment for all of our members. If bullying does occur, incidents will be dealt with promptly and effectively. Anyone who knows that bullying is happening is expected to tell a coach, team manager or board member.
Objectives of the Club’s Anti‐Bullying Policy:
- To make it clear that the Club will not tolerate bullying in any form.
- To define bullying and educate all coaches, swimmers, parents and board members of the types of behavior that constitute bullying.
- To inform all coaches, swimmers, and parents that there is a policy and protocol, should any bullying issues arise.
- To make clear the responsibility of all Club members to report bullying.
- To spread the word that the Club takes bullying seriously and that all swimmers and parents can be assured that they will be supported when bullying is reported.
WHAT IS BULLYING?
The USA Swimming Code of Conduct defines bullying in 304.3.7. Bullying is the severe or repeated use by one or more USA Swimming members (“Members”) of oral, written, electronic or other technological expression, image, sound, data or intelligence of any nature (regardless of the method of transmission), or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at any other member that to a reasonably objective person has the effect of:
- Causing physical or emotional harm to the other Member or damage to the other Member’s property; creating a hostile environment for the other Member at any USA Swimming activity;
- Infringing on the rights of the other Member at any USA Swimming activity; or
- Materially and substantially disrupting the training process or the orderly operation of any USA Swimming activity (which for the purposes of this section shall include, without limitation, practices, workouts and other events of a member club or LSC).
An athlete who feels that he or she has been bullied should do one or more of the following things:
- Talk to his or her parents;
- Talk to a Club coach, Board member, SSC or other designated individual;
- Write a letter or email to a Club coach, Board member or other SSC;
- Make a report to the USA Swimming Safe Sport staff.
There is no express time limit for initiating a complaint under this procedure, but every effort should be made to bring the complaint to the attention of the appropriate club leadership as soon as possible to stop the bullying behavior as soon as possible and to make sure that memories are fresh and behavior can be accurately recalled. Reports of bullying can be made anonymously.
Dart Frog Aquatics ACTION PLAN: HOW WE HANDLE BULLYING
If bullying is occurring during team‐related activities, we STOP BULLYING ON THE SPOT using the following steps:
- Intervene immediately. It is ok to get another adult to help.
- Separate the kids involved.
- Make sure everyone is safe.
- Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs.
- Stay calm. Reassure the kids involved, including bystanders.
- Model respectful behavior when you intervene.
If bullying is occurring at our club or it is reported to be occurring at our club, we address the bullying by FINDING OUT WHAT HAPPENED and SUPPORTING THE KIDS INVOLVED using the following approach:
FINDING OUT WHAT HAPPENED
- First, we get the facts.
- Keep all the involved children separate.
- Get the story from several sources, both adults and kids, and gather all available information regarding the circumstances under which the incident occurred.
- Listen without blaming.
- Don’t call the act “bullying” while you are trying to understand what happened.
- Then, we determine if it's bullying. There are many behaviors that look like bullying but require different approaches. It is important to determine whether the situation is bullying or something else.
- Review the USA Swimming definition of bullying;
- To determine if the behavior is bullying or something else, consider the following questions:
- What is the history between the kids involved?
- Have there been past conflicts?
- Is there a power imbalance? Remember that a power imbalance is not limited to physical strength and can include things like the “popularity” of the kids Involved.
- Has this happened before? Is the child worried it will happen again
- Remember that it may not matter “who started it.” Some kids who are bullied may be seen as annoying or provoking, but this does not excuse the bullying behavior.
- Once you have determined if the situation is bullying, support all of the kids involved.
SUPPORTING THE KIDS INVOLVED
- Support the kids who are being bullied.
- Listen and focus on the child. Learn what’s been going on and show you want to help. Assure the child that bullying is not their fault.
- Work together to resolve the situation and protect the bullied child. The child, parents and fellow team members and coaches may all have valuable input. It may help to:
- Ask the child being bullied what can be done to make him or her feel safe. Remember that changes to routine should be minimized. He or she is not at fault and should not be singled out. For example, consider rearranging lane assignments for everyone. If bigger moves are necessary, such as switching practice groups, the child who is bullied should not be forced to change.
- Develop a game plan. Maintain open communication between the Club and parents. Discuss the steps that will be taken and how bullying will be addressed going forward.
- Be persistent. Coaches need to engage the practice groups and monitor the groups for any signs of Bullying. Bullying may not end overnight. Commit to making it stop and consistently support the bullied child, but no in a way to direct unwanted attention to the child who has been bullied or the child who has allegedly bullied.
2. Address bullying behavior
- Make sure the child who engaged in the bullying behavior understands why his or her behavior is unacceptable. Young people who bully must learn their behavior is wrong and harms others.
- Show kids that bullying is taken seriously. Calmly tell the child that bullying will not be tolerated. Model respectful behavior when addressing the problem.
- Work with the child to understand some of the reasons he or she bullied. For example:
- Sometimes children bully to fit in or to make fun of someone who is different from them. In other words, there may be some insecurity involved.
- Other times kids act out because something else—issues at home, abuse, stress—is going on in their lives. They also may have been bullied. These kids may be in need of additional support.
- Involve the kid who bullied in making amends or repairing the situation. The goal is to help them see how their actions affect others. For example, the child can:
- Write a letter apologizing to the athlete who was bullied.
- Do a good deed for the person who was bullied, for the Club, or for others in your community.
- Clean up, repair, or pay for any property they damaged.
- Avoid strategies that don’t work or have negative consequences:
- Zero tolerance or “three strikes, you’re out” are generally unsuccessful strategies. Swimmers may be less likely to report and address bullying if suspension or getting kicked off the team is the consequence.
- Similarly, conflict resolution and peer mediation often don’t work for bullying. Bullying is not a conflict between people of equal power who share equal blame. Facing those who have bullied may further upset kids who have been bullied.
- Follow‐up. After the bullying issue is resolved, continue finding ways to help the child who bullied to understand how what they do affects other people. For example, praise acts of kindness or talk about what it means to be a good teammate.
- Support bystanders who witness bullying. Every day, kids witness bullying. They want to help, but do not know how. Fortunately, there are a few simple, safe ways that athletes can help stop bullying when they see it happening:
- Be a friend to the person being bullied.
- Tell a trusted adult – your parent, coach or club board member.
- Help the kid being bullied get away from the situation. Create a distraction, focus the attention on something else or offer a way for the target to get out of the situation. “Let’s go, practice is about to start.”
- Set a good example by not bullying others.
- Don’t give the bully an audience. Bullies are encouraged by the attention they get from bystanders. If you do nothing else, just walk away.
If there is a true founded act of bullying or a Red Flag behavior, the head coach needs to follow up with a documented report and send to SSC within 24-48 hours.