The safety and well-being of all participants in the Little League Program is paramount. In 1998, Little League International became the first youth sports organization to require background checks for all its volunteers and refused participation who had convictions that involved minors with the establishment of its Child Protection Plan. The Child Protection Program should be used to educate local league volunteers, with the goal of creating local league programs where only those who have the best interests of children in mind are involved.
Little League’s Child Protection Program was updated in 2018 to reflect the mandates set forth by the “Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Act of 2017,” which requires that all amateur sports organizations, which participate in an interstate or international amateur athletic competition and whose membership includes any adult who is in regular contact with an amateur athlete who is a minor, must report suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse, within 24 hours to law enforcement.
To keep up with the changing environment, Little League International has updated the Child Protection Program by creating a Child Protection Policy that is now included in the Operating Policies. The Child Protection Policy strategically includes Little League’s standards of protection of our youth, while the training promotes how leagues can implement the policy. Little League decided to not only focus on child sexual abuse but all forms of child abuse.
All local Little Leagues and District Administrators should be aware of the changes that have been made to the Child Protection Program and Child Protection Policy. Some key updates include:
- Updates from SafeSport/USA Baseball
- Emphasis on the Volunteer Selection Process
- New Regulations on conducting Background Checks
- Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse Guidelines
- Proper One-on-One Interaction with minors
- Education and Training for all volunteers
- Emotional Wellbeing and Bullying prevention for Players
As part of the Child Protection program, all affiliated local little leagues are required to conduct an annual background check on its volunteers, which includes a search of the National Criminal Database, National Sex Offender Registry, U.S. Center for SafeSport Centralized Disciplinary Database, and the Little League International Ineligible List. To support its local leagues in these efforts, Little League International provides 125 free background checks that meet the Little League standard through JDP to each local league annually. Local leagues are also provided different types of child protection training and must complete the USA Baseball BASE Abuse Awareness training before entering their respective Little League Region Tournament.