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Information for those who work/volunteer with minors related to activities sponsored by VISION Soccer Club to be able to identify signs of suspected cases of child abuse and/or child neglect and to have the tools to know how to make a report to the proper authorities.


On Feb. 14, 2018, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 was signed into law and became effective immediately. The legislation is available for download here. The U.S. Center for SafeSport has released a fact sheet about the legislation, and here is a video PSA about the Center.

In addition to the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s fact sheet, which provides information regarding the entire law, here is additional detail on the specific mandatory reporting of child abuse requirements included in the new legislation:

  • The bill amends the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to extend the duty to report suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse, within 24 hours to all adults who are authorized to interact with minor or amateur athletes by a national governing body, a member of a national governing body, or an amateur sports organization that participates in interstate or international amateur athletic competition. These individuals are called “covered individuals” in the new legislation.
  • Child abuse is defined as physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, or negligent treatment of a child.
  • Per current federal regulations, reports of child abuse should be made to the local law enforcement agency or local child protective services agency that has jurisdiction to investigate reports of child abuse or to protect child abuse victims or to the FBI. These regulations have not yet been updated to reflect the recent change in the law. Until such time as the regulations are updated, U.S. Soccer will make reports to
    (1) local law enforcement where any alleged incident took place to the extent it can be determined and the incident occurred in the United States, (2) local law enforcement where the victim resides if different than (1), and (3) the FBI.
  • An individual who is required, but fails, to report suspected child sexual abuse is subject to criminal penalties including fines and up to one year in jail.
  • These obligations are in addition to any state law requirements that an individual may have in a particular jurisdiction.

As stated above, you are required to report suspected child abuse within 24 hours to the local law enforcement agency or local child protective services agency that has jurisdiction to investigate reports of child abuse or to protect child abuse victims or to the FBI.

Additionally, please also communicate the report to the U.S. Soccer integrity hotline at or (312) 528-7004 and the U.S. Center for SafeSport at Reporting to the U.S. Soccer integrity hotline and the U.S. Center for SafeSport is not a substitute for reporting to law enforcement, child protective services, and/or the FBI.

Here are some other resources you’re encouraged to browse:

  • is not only a medium to make a child abuse report, but it also has numerous fact sheets, articles, downloadable graphics, and resources.
  • US Club Soccer member conduct recommendations, which provides guidance on appropriate physical contact, supervision and overnight trips, among other situations.
  • Child Welfare Information Gateway provides a variety of tools, training resources and programs to raise awareness and reduce risk.
  • “Safer, Smarter Kids” – of Lauren’s Kids – creates abuse prevention education for elementary-aged children. Here is a parent toolkit that encourages conversations between parents and children by leading families through sample scenarios.
  • operates a 24-hour national child abuse hotline, as well as programs for prevention, intervention and treatment.

Child Abuse Identification & Reporting Guidelines

These guidelines are issued by the California Department of Education (CDE), in conjunction with the California Department of Social Services, to help all persons, particularly those persons who work/volunteer for the VISION Soccer Club (VSC), to be able to identify signs of suspected cases of child abuse and/or child neglect and to have the tools to know how to make a report to the proper authorities. These guidelines are specifically aimed at training those who work/volunteer within the VISION Soccer Club on their obligations as mandated reporters of child abuse.  If you would like additional information and/or obtain a certificate on this issue, an online course can be located online at California Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training.

Identification of Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse is more than bruises or broken bones. While physical abuse often leaves visible scars, not all child abuse is as obvious, but can do just as much harm. It is important that individuals working with and around children be able to know what constitutes child abuse or child neglect and know how to identify potential signs.

Child Abuse and/or Child Neglect Can Be Any of the Following:

  • A physical injury inflicted on a child by another person other than by accidental means.
  • The sexual abuse, assault, or exploitation of a child.
  • The negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a person responsible for the child’s welfare under circumstances indicating harm or threatened harm to the child’s health or welfare. This is whether the harm or threatened harm is from acts or omissions on the part of the responsible person.
  • The willful harming or endangerment of the person or health of a child, any cruel or inhumane corporal punishment or any injury resulting in a traumatic condition.

One does not have to be physically present or witness the abuse to identify suspected cases of abuse, or even have definite proof that a child may be subject to child abuse or neglect. Rather, the law requires that a person have a “reasonable suspicion” that a child has been the subject of child abuse or neglect. Under the law, this means that it is reasonable for a person to entertain a suspicion of child abuse or neglect, based upon facts that could cause a reasonable person, in a like position, drawing, when appropriate, on his or her training and experience, to suspect child abuse or neglect. 

Red flags for abuse and neglect are often identified by observing a child’s behavior at school, training, or games, recognizing physical signs, and observations of dynamics during routine interactions with certain adults. While the following signs are not proof that a child is the subject of abuse or neglect, they should prompt one to look further.

Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse in Children

  • Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong.
  • Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive).
  • Doesn’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
  • Acts either inappropriately adult-like (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (rocking, thumb-sucking, throwing tantrums).

Warning Signs of Physical Abuse in Children

  • Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts.
  • Is always watchful and “on alert” as if waiting for something bad to happen.
  • Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt.
  • Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
  • Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days.

Warning Signs of Neglect in Children

  • Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
  • Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor).
  • Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
  • Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
  • Is frequently late or missing from school.

Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children

  • Trouble walking or sitting.
  • Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
  • Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
  • Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
  • A sexually transmitted disease (STD) or pregnancy, especially under the age of fourteen.
  • Runs away from home.

Reporting Child Abuse or Neglect

Community members have an important role in protecting children from abuse and neglect. While not mandated by law to do so, if child abuse or neglect is suspected, a report should be filed with qualified and experienced agencies that will investigate the situation. Examples of these agencies are listed below. Parents and guardians of pupils have the right to file a complaint against anyone they suspect has engaged in abuse or neglect of a child. Community members do not need to provide their name when making a report of child abuse or neglect. Telephone numbers for each county's emergency response for child abuse reporting are located at California Emergency Response Child Abuse Reporting Telephone Numbers(PDF).

VSC volunteers, while not mandated reporters, should also be encouraged to report any suspected cases of abuse and neglect. Additionally, VSC volunteers are highly encouraged by the law to have training in the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect. The training offered online to mandated reporters, is equally available to VSC volunteers.

Obligations of Mandated Reporters

A list of persons whose profession qualifies them as “mandated reporters” of child abuse or neglect is found in California Penal Code Section 11165.7. The list is extensive and continues to grow. It includes all VSC employees, administrators, athletic coaches, Team Managers, and all others who have obtained an Adult Pass. While the penal code does not include other VSC volunteers, again we encourage all those who work closely with our players to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect. All persons hired into positions or have obtained an adult pass are required to be provided with a statement, informing them that they are a mandated reporter and their obligations to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect pursuant to California Penal Code Section 11166.5.

All persons who are mandated reporters are required, by law, to report all known or suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. It is not the job of the mandated reporter to determine whether the allegations are valid. If child abuse or neglect is reasonably suspected or if a pupil shares information with a mandated reporter leading him/her to believe abuse or neglect has taken place, the report must be made. No supervisor, administrator or the VSC Board of Directors (BOD) can impede or inhibit a report or subject the reporting person to any sanction.

To make a report, the person with an Adult Pass must contact an appropriate local law enforcement or county child welfare agency, listed below. This legal obligation is not satisfied by making a report of the incident to a Coach, Team Manager or any other persons with an Adult Pass. An appropriate law enforcement agency may be one of the following:

  • A Police or Sheriff’s Department (not including a school district police department or school security department).
  • A County Probation Department, if designated by the county to receive child abuse reports.
  • A County Welfare Department/County Child Protective Services.

The report should be made immediately over the telephone and should be followed up in writing. The law enforcement agency has special forms for this purpose that they will ask you to complete. If a report cannot be made immediately over the telephone, then an initial report may be made via e-mail or fax. A report must also be filed at the same time with the VSC BOD. The VSC BOD, however, do not investigate child abuse allegations, and depending on the circumstances, may not attempt to contact the person suspected of child abuse or neglect.

These policies do not take the place of reporting to an appropriate local law enforcement or county child welfare agency.

Rights to Confidentiality and Immunity
Mandated reporters are required to give their names when making a report. However, the reporter’s identity is kept confidential. Reports of suspected child abuse are also confidential. Mandated reporters have immunity from state criminal or civil liability for reporting as required. This is true even if the mandated reporter acquired the knowledge, or suspicion of the abuse or neglect, outside his/her professional capacity or scope of employment.

Consequences of Failing to Report
A person who fails to make a required report is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine (California Penal Code Section 11166[c]).

After the Report is Made
The local law enforcement agency is required to investigate all reports. Cases may also be investigated by Child Welfare Services when allegations involve abuse or neglect within families.

Child Protective Services
The Child Protective Services (CPS) is the major organization to intervene in child abuse and neglect cases in California. Existing law provides for services to abused and neglected children and their families. More information can be found at Child Protective Services.

Simple Safety Guidelines To Reduce The Risk:

  • Make sure that every adult who works with youth has complied with the Risk Management policies of your State Association, and club league or association. 
  • Set a tone of respect for players. Communicate the level of expected professional conduct to coaches, administrators and volunteers at coaches’ meetings, parent meetings and in literature. 
  • As an adult, never be alone with a player. If you are working with an individual player one-on- one, work in sight of other adults. 
  • Don’t send players to restrooms alone. 
  • Keep barriers in place. If communication occurs by text or emails, send group messages to the entire team, including parents. Don’t use these means to communicate on an individual basis.
  • Limit the use of adult-to-player communication through cell phones. 
  • Adults involved in a team, club, league or association should not become “friends” with players on social web sites. 
  • Coaches coaching players of the opposite sex should make sure to have an assistant coach, parent or manager of the same sex as the players at all practices, training sessions, games, etc. 
  • Have another adult at all practices. Be sure at least two adults wait for players to be picked up from practices or games or, if there is only one adult available, such as the coach, then make sure the adult stays out in the open and visible. Including Personalized/Individual Training.

I acknowledge that I have read, understand, and agree to the policies and procedures outlined above by the VISION Soccer Club.   
Failure to do so could result in my immediate dismissal.

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