As a Special Olympics volunteer, your efforts are critical to achieve the Special Olympics mission and ensure that all athletes have a positive, safe and rewarding experience in Special Olympics.
These guidelines are designed to protect athletes and volunteers by providing information on how to prevent emotional, sexual and physical abuse of athletes. Please take a moment to review this information carefully and ask SOTX staff if you have any questions.
In addition to statements by the athlete, there may be physical or behavioral indicators of abuse.
Physical indicators include questionable injuries such as bruises, burns or lacerations in the soft tissue areas of an athlete’s body. Bruises change color during the healing process, thereby indicating that the injuries happened on more than one occasion. Injuries to genital areas may indicate sexual abuse: for example, cigarette burns on the inside of the upper leg or on the buttocks. Tether marks or rope burns and abrasions caused by tying wrists, ankles, or neck are also indicators of probable abuse.
Some athletes’ injuries are a consequence of athletic competition and the location of the injury may indicate whether the injury was due to abuse or competition. Injuries that happen during competition are most likely to be on the shins, knees, elbows, etc. They are less likely to be on the abdomen, across the back, on the backs of the legs or on facial cheeks.
If you notice that any athlete has been injured (regardless of the delegation), please ask how the injury happened. Could the incident described by the athlete have resulted in the injury you observed?
The priority is to protect the athlete from further abuse.
When an athlete discloses possible abuse to you or you have reasonable grounds to suspect that an athlete has been abused, you should also take two steps:
Step One: Contact the Authorities
Abuse, neglect and exploitation are against the law in Texas and so is failure to report it. If you suspect a child, a person 65 years or older, or an adult with disabilities has been abused or mistreated, you are required to report it to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services or to a law enforcement agency. You are required to make a report immediately, and you can report your suspicions to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services on their Texas Abuse/Neglect Hotline toll-free at 800.252.5400.
Step Two: Contact Special Olympics Texas
Please notify your Special Olympics Texas area staff person immediately. If you cannot contact your area staff, please call the chapter office at 800.876.5646, ext. 2933.During both calls, please inform the person you notify of the actions you have taken to protect the athlete. In addition, the athlete should be encouraged to report the abuse to the proper authorities as well.
It is critical that behavior deemed inappropriate is disclosed to SOTX staff as soon as the behavior is witnessed or when there is an awareness that it has occurred. Below is a chart that will identify some guidelines for which behaviors are important to disclose and what steps SOTX will take related to the level of severity. Use the Disclosure of Misconduct or Inappropriate Behavior Form to divulge information.
By following these guidelines, we are able to protect not only our athletes, but the integrity of the umbrella insurance coverage that is in place for all Special Olympics programs. The coverage is tied together such that one situation can jeopardize the coverage for every state.
The below referenced behaviors occurring outside an SOTX event can also be taken into consideration with regards to disciplinary action.
|Level||Examples of Behaviors||Disclose or Not||Action Taken by SOTX|
||No, but incident needs to be documented and filed by the HoD.
Continued behavior at Level 1 should result in progressive discipline.
||Incident should be reported on the Disclosure of Misconduct or Inappropriate Behavior Form.||SOTX may notify American Specialty depending on the issue. Athlete may be suspended until an investigation is completed. Area Sports Management Team will meet and determine consequences associated with the behavior.|
||Must immediately disclose regardless of when and where the incident occurs. Incident should be reported on the Disclosure of Misconduct or Inappropriate Behavior Form. Go directly to the area staff or call either the Vice President of Field Services or the Vice President of Shared Services.||SOTX will work with American Specialty to investigate and will coordinate public relations around the incident. Athlete is automatically suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. The appropriate Management Team will meet and determine the consequences associated with the behavior.|
||Must immediately disclose regardless of when or where the incident occurs. Incident should be reported on the Disclosure of Misconduct or Inappropriate Behavior Form. Go directly to the area staff or call either the Vice President of Field Services or the Vice President of Shared Services.||SOTX will work with American Specialty to investigate and will coordinate public relations around the incident. Athlete is automatically suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. A letter will come directly from the chapter office. Consequences associated with the behavior will be handled directly by the chapter office.|
Form: Disclosure of Misconduct or Inappropriate Behavior
Here at Special Olympics, we believe that EVERYONE, including staff, volunteers, parents, caregivers and coaches has a role to play in ensuring the safety of Special Olympics athletes. We take this responsibility seriously and have implemented a number of steps to help make participating in Special Olympics not only rewarding, but also safe.
This quick reference brochure is just that, a brochure intended to be supplemented by the detailed Guide for Parents and Caregivers to Keep our Athletes Safe, which is available from your Special Olympics Program. We strongly encourage parents and caregivers to review the Guide for Parents and Caregivers in addition to this brochure for more detailed information. Parents and caregivers are also encouraged to discuss the content of this guide with their athletes to help their athletes distinguish appropriate behavior from inappropriate behavior.
We know that we cannot safeguard our athletes without YOUR help! We need the involvement of others, including parents and caregivers in order to be successful.
(1) Know what to expect from Special Olympics.
The following is a very brief overview of some of the types of official activities that are available to Special Olympics athletes (please consult your local Special Olympics Program for a full list):
(2) Watch for “Red Flag” Behaviors:
Note: Each situation is different, so it is important for parents/guardians to evaluate the proposed activity on a case-by-case basis, which may include a call to your local Special Olympics office to confirm the validity of the activity, and determine whether it is appropriate for the athlete.
(3) Report Suspicious Behavior
Identifying a sexual predator is very difficult and therefore, parents/guardians should be extremely cautious of those “red flag” activities, behaviors and characteristics outlined in this brochure.
Special Olympics has undertaken steps to check the backgrounds of certain volunteers and to educate registered volunteers, staff and parents/caregivers of “red flag” behaviors, but everyone should be on the lookout for inappropriate behavior. Special Olympics fosters friendships and creates opportunities for athletes to become involved in activities that may extend outside of Special Olympics. It is important for parents and caregivers to be aware of two important facts:
(1) Only activities organized, conducted and sponsored by Special Olympics qualify as official Special Olympics activities (not those activities outside of Special Olympics that may result from friendships made through Special Olympics).
(2) Sexual predators often target vulnerable populations, can come from any background, can be male or female, are often generally “likeable” with warm personalities, and may have limited relationships with other adults. In other words, pay attention and notify Special Olympics if you think a behavior is a “red flag” or inappropriate because there is no one way to identify a person with bad intentions.
If you believe a Special Olympics volunteer is engaging in activities that do not fit within the expected scope of Special Olympics, contact your Special Olympics State Program office to discuss the situation.
If you believe that a Special Olympics athlete has been abused, contact law enforcement in addition to your local Special Olympics Program office, as law enforcement has the expertise to investigate such allegations.
Special Olympics practices, competitions, and activities often are conducted outdoors, and we would like to provide some safety procedures to help keep everyone safe and cool.
Following the simple risk management techniques outlined below can help prevent heat stroke injuries and illnesses:
Coaches/volunteers should be alert to the symptoms of overheating and dehydration:
Anyone experiencing the above symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.
To increase the fluid intake of a person who has become dehydrated or is beginning to show any of the above symptoms, have that person try the following:
Special Olympics, Inc. has issued the following position regarding blood-borne contagious infection carriers:
Since medical history and examination cannot reliably identify individuals infected with HIV or other diseases, blood and body fluid precautions should be used consistently. This approach, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), referred to as “universal precautions,” should be used in the care of all individuals participating in Special Olympics (athletes, coaches, volunteers and staff).
Important: While the following procedures should be followed as closely as possible, emergency medical care involving blood or mouth-to-mouth contact should not be delayed due to the lack of gloves, towels or mouthpieces.
Studies have shown that viruses, including the HIV virus, are rapidly inactivated after being exposed to commonly used chemical germicides at concentrations that are much lower than used in practice. A diluted solution of household bleach should be prepared in the ratio of 1 to 100 which is the same as two tablespoons chlorine bleach to one gallon of water. This solution can be used for general cleaning and disinfecting purposes, and can be placed in spray bottles. All containers with bleach-water solution must be stored in a secure location.
Cleaning the Surfaces of Mats, Work and Play Areas
Cleaning Athletic Equipment and Toys
Mouthpieces for Use in Performing CPR
A diluted solution of household chlorine bleach and water is also acceptable for use in cleaning spills of body fluids. The solution must be made daily and containers with bleach water solution must be stored in secure locations. Gloves must be worn for this procedure.
All Special Olympics teams and athletes must abide by the Aquatics Minimum Safety Standards while participating in recreational swimming.
All Special Olympics teams must have access to a first aid kit at all trainings, clinics, competitions, etc. All first aid kits should include:
|Hydrocortisone cream (1%)||Benadryl, Cortaid||1 – 1 oz. tube|
|Antibacterial cream||Neosporin||1 – 1 oz. tube|
|Sports Cream||Icy-Hot, Flex 454||1 – 1 oz. tube|
|Saline eyewash||Bausch & Lomb||1 – 6 oz. bottle|
|Eyewash||Visine, Murine||1 – 1 oz. bottle|
|Hydrogen peroxide||2 – 8 oz. bottle|
|Lip Balm||Carmex, Chapstick||1 – 2 oz. bottle|
|Cotton swabs||Q-tips||25 sticks|
|Bandages||Curad, Band-Aid||25 bandages|
|Bandages for knuckles||Johnson & Johnson (J&J)||14 bandages|
|Gauze pads 4” x 4”||J&J, Kendall||50 sterile pads|
|Gauze rolls 2”, 3” and 4”||J&J, Kendall||5 rolls each size|
|Elastic wraps 3”,4” and 6”||Ace||3 rolls each size|
|Triangular bandages||Johnson & Johnson||4 bandages|
|Tape 1” and 2”||Johnson & Johnson||2 rolls each size|
|Athletic tape in 2”||Mueller||4 rolls|
|Elastic tape in 2”||Cobann||4 rolls|
|Sealed plastic bags, quart size||GladLock||10 bags|
|Sanitary napkins||Maxi-Pads||4 pads|
|Fingernail clippers||Revlon||1 pair|
|Bandage scissors, 5”||Revlon||1 pair|
|Non Latex glove||1 pair|
|Mouth Mask||1 mask|
Medications (prescription and nonprescription) will not be dispensed without the written consent of the parent and/or guardian of the athlete. If permission is given to dispense medication, it shall be in its original container with the athlete’s name, date, directions and physician’s name. Medications dispensed will be limited to routine oral ingestion not requiring special knowledge or skills of coaches and/or chaperones.
Special Olympics encourages coaches interested in additional information to contact the American Red Cross and go through First Aid and/or CPR Training which counts toward continuing education requirements.
(Convulsions, generalized tonic-clonic, grand mal)
Although most seizures end naturally without emergency treatment, a seizure in someone who does not have epilepsy could be a sign of serious illness. Call for medical assistance if:
Simple partial seizures don’t require any special response except to recognize what’s happening and be supportive when the seizure is over.
Handling Complex Partial Seizures – the following steps may help:
There are two factors in preventing injuries that you should be aware of: providing a safe environment for athletes and spectators, and creating a safe work environment.
In addition to providing a safe environment for the athletes you train, you also must do your part to provide volunteers and workers with an appropriate and safe environment in which to contribute. One aspect of a safe workplace is to train personnel in proper work techniques, such as lifting, workspace ergonomics, use of tools and machinery, and defensive driving. Personnel need to become aware of workplace dangers and strive to minimize the risks, either through safe work practices or the prompt correction of hazardous situations.
Answer the following questions to assess your preparedness for emergency medical response. The answer to all questions should be “yes.” If an answer is “no” you should take steps to address the situation.
It is the coach’s job to maintain as safe an environment as possible. It is strongly recommended that coaches have certification in CPR and First Aid or that volunteers be recruited who already have first aid training, medical athletic training or emergency care certification. Athlete medical forms should be reviewed prior to the start of practice and available at all trainings and competitions. There should be a plan for emergencies. Using the Coach’s Safety Checklist will help to prevent injury by assuring adequate supervision, equipment, facility, warm-up and stretching.
When an injury does occur, stay calm, and administer only basic first aid. When in doubt, or when more care is needed, consult the athlete’s family and a physician.
If an arm or leg may be broken — that is, if it looks deformed or has major swelling and tenderness — treat it like a break. Take the athlete to a physician.
Always have someone familiar with basic life support and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at every training session. Even though the possibility of cardiac arrest is much greater in the spectator section than with the athletes, it is always present. Initial measures include:
It is Special Olympics Texas’ intent to take steps to help ensure the health and safety of all Special Olympics Texas participants. All Special Olympics Texas participants should remember that safety comes first and should take reasonable steps to help minimize the risks for concussion or other serious brain injuries.
A concussion is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head as well as serial, cumulative hits to the head. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth—causing the brain to bounce around or twist within the skull. Although concussions are usually not life-threatening, their effects can be serious and therefore proper attention must be paid to individuals suspected of sustaining a concussion.
Effective January 1, 2015, a participant who is suspected of sustaining a concussion in a practice, game or competition shall be removed from practice, play or competition at that time. If a qualified medical professional (advanced practice nurse, athletic trainer, physician’s assistant or physician) is available on-site to render an evaluation, that person shall have final authority as to the removal or return to play of the participant. If applicable, the participant’s parent or guardian should be made aware that the participant is suspected of sustaining a concussion.
A participant who has been removed from practice, play or competition due to a suspected concussion may not participate in Special Olympics Texas sports activities until either of the following occurs
Concussion awareness training must be completed by all Coaches at least once every three years, As of January 1, 2015, new coaches to Special Olympics Texas will go through the training as part of their certification process. Currently certified coaches will take the training upon renewing their Class A
There are two currently approved courses available for Special Olympics Texas coaches and the preferred one is presented free of charge on the National Federation of State High School Coaches Association. The website is: www.nfhslearn.com/courses/38000. Coaches must register and will then have access to all the online trainings. Please make sure you list Special Olympics Texas when filling out the School/Association line.
The Centers for Disease Control website www.cdc.gov/concussion provides additional resources relative to concussions that may be of interest to participants and their families. Special Olympics Texas has CDC Concussion Facts Sheets printed in both English and Spanish available on our website at https://nfhslearn.com/courses/61064/concussion-in-sports.
Decisions on field closures are made as late as possible in order to give the best possible chance for the game to be played, however some decisions are easier than others and therefore it is possible that a field or park maybe closed prior to game day.
Players are more susceptible to injuries during cold weather, particularly from pulled or torn muscles. Players should be encouraged to wear appropriate clothing to aid body heat retention yet afford adequate movement without creating a safety hazard. As a general rule, training programs will be cancelled if the projected temperature (including wind chill) at the start of training is projected to be below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
The risk of heat related illness from vigorous sports activity increases with the temperature. The body generates heat which cannot be dissipated readily when the ambient temperature exceeds 85 degrees F, depending upon the humidity. Hot weather is considered at any point where the Heat Index reaches or exceeds 90. As a general rule, training programs should be reviewed if the heat index at the start of training is projected to be above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Coaches should exercise caution and provide additional water breaks.
If inclement weather is forecast, an individual should be designated to monitor the weather forecast and radar during the competition. If the facility being used for competition has a lightning detection system and a facilities policy in place that is more stringent than listed below, the facilities policy will supersede the Special Olympics Texas policy.
If lightening is detected within 8 miles of the practice or competition facility, all coaches, players, referees and spectators are to withdraw from the field and seek proper shelter. No place outside is safe near thunderstorms. The best shelter is a large, fully enclosed, substantially constructed building. A vehicle with a solid metal roof and metal sides is a reasonable second choice.
30 minutes Rule - Wait at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder or the last lightning flash before giving the “all clear” signal and resuming normal activity. If thunder is heard or lightning is seen again within that 30-minute time frame, the event will continue to be postponed or officials may deem to cancel the event.
Lightning research has confirmed that consecutive lightning strikes can occur as much as six miles apart. People often do not perceive lightning to be close if it is two miles or more away, but the risk of the next strike being at your location may actually be very high. Many lightning casualties occur in the beginning as a thunderstorm approaches because people ignore these precursors. When thunderstorms are in the area but not overhead, the lightning threat can exist even if it is sunny at your location.