Little League Child Protection Program

Dear District and League Officials:

Passage of Senate Bill 534, known as the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017, has made it a federal crime to “mind your own business,” in matters of child abuse or neglect.

All youth sports volunteers operating in the United States, including Little League volunteers, are obligated to notify authorities of any first-hand accounts of abuse or neglect of a minor. This information has been updated and reflected in Little League’s Child Protection Program.

In summary, the new law requires that suspected child abuse must be reported within 24 hours to local law enforcement. If an individual suspects a case of abuse within their league, they should report it to the appropriate child services organization and/or law enforcement as well as their League President and District Administrator. The Little League Guidelines on Reporting Child Abuse are included in the program’s Child Protection program.

The following points should also be highlighted to all Little League volunteers:

  1. Federal legislation sets minimum standards to define child abuse and neglect: “(1) Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or (2) an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g). However, the definition of child abuse and neglect varies by state and we strongly suggest your league consult with an attorney to determine what laws govern your reporting obligations.
  2. Who is required to report suspected abuse? Any adult individual involved in their league. Coaches, managers, board members, concessions workers, field and maintenance workers, umpires, scorekeepers, team-moms, etc.
  3. Any individual who fails to report suspected child abuse may be subject to criminal penalties.
  4. Reporters are immune from liability even when a good faith report of abuse turns out to be unsubstantiated. Little League policy prohibits any kind of retaliation when a good faith report of child abuse is made.
  5. There are training materials provided on the LL website about recognizing signs of abuse and child abuse reporting.
  6. Additional Resources:
    • Read more on ChildWelfare.gov about mandatory reporting, with a summary of state reporting laws
    • State (toll-free) child abuse reporting numbers
    • Search the definitions of child maltreatment by state
    • For crisis assistance, counseling, and referral services:
    • Childhelp is a national organization that provides crisis assistance and other counseling and referral services. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with professional crisis counselors. All calls are anonymous. Contact them at (800) 4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453), or visit ChildHelp.org.
  7. Child Protection Program information available on LittleLeague.org:
    • Little League Child Protection ProgramPDF Download
    • Little League Player Safety
    • Guidelines to Reporting Abuse
    • State Specific Information on Child Abuse
    • State Background Check Laws
    • SafeSport Parents’ Training Resources

Thank you for your time and attention.

Karl Eckweiler
Legal Counsel
Little League International

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