The safety and well-being of all participants in the Little League Program is paramount. 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 Baseball and Softball created the Child Protection Program in 1998 and it has been constantly evolving over the last 20 years. Prior to 2024, The Child Protection Program was separated into two key components for leagues: a policy and a training tool. The Child Protection Policy strategically included Little League’s standards of protection of our youth, while the training promoted how leagues can implement the policy. Little League decided to not only focus on child sexual abuse but all forms of child abuse. Beginning with the 2024 season, the policy was fully integrated, forming a cohesive and thorough Child Protection Program that provides all the information a league needs regarding the protection of its players by clearly outlining the requirements of the local league. The goal is to ensure that local leagues, parents/guardians/caretakers, and all volunteers in the local league understand the obligation and requirements of the local league regarding the protection of its players.
Since 2003, local leagues have been required to have all board members, managers, coaches, and other volunteers or hired workers who provide regular service to the league and/or who have repetitive access to or contact with players or teams to fill out the Little League Official Volunteer Application.
All chartered Little League programs must adhere to the following requirements to remain affiliated with Little League Baseball and Softball:
1. COMPLETE BACKGROUND CHECKS
Utilize the Little League volunteer application form to conduct annual background checks on volunteers and prohibit anyone with any offenses that would disqualify them as a participant in any Little League activity.
2. MANDATORY TRAINING & CONTINUING EDUCATION
Annually require all volunteers to complete an Abuse Awareness Training provided by USA Baseball or a comparable training.
3. MANDATORY REPORTING REQUIRMENTS
Report Child Abuse, including sexual abuse involving a minor, to the proper authorities within 24 hours.
4. NON-RETALIATION FOR REPORTING
Adopt a policy that prohibits retaliation against “good faith” reports of child abuse.
5. PROHIBIT ONE-ON-ONE INTERACTIONS
Adopt a policy that limits one-on-one contact with minors without being in an observable and interruptible distance from another adult.
Additionally, leagues have been required to conduct a background check on each of these individuals. A local Little League must conduct a nationwide background check utilizing JDP or another provider that is comparable to JDP in accessing background check records for sex offender registry data and other criminal records, including a review of the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s Centralized Disciplinary Database and the Little League Ineligible List. Little League Baseball and Softball will require each league to sign an agreement on the charter application that they will comply with Regulation I (b) and I(c) 8 & 9. The leagues are also required to sign a statement on the tournament enrollment form verifying that the process has been completed and implemented. Failure to sign the agreement on the charter application will result in the league not being chartered, and failure to fulfill the requirement of the regulations will result in the league’s status being referred to the Charter/Tournament committee for action to revoke the league’s charter and all privileges.
Local Leagues shall not permit any person to participate in any manner whose background check reveals a pending charge, conviction for, guilty plea, no contest plea, or admission to any crime involving or against a minor. An individual is also prohibited from participating as a volunteer if he/she appears on the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s Centralized Disciplinary Database and/or Little League International Ineligible/Suspended List. A local league may impose stricter guidelines and prohibit any individual from participating as a volunteer if the league deems the individual unfit or inappropriate to work or volunteer in the league. If a potential volunteer appears on the National Sex Offender Registry, the league must contact Little League International at [email protected] before appointing the volunteer to participate in any capacity in the league. Little League International will advise of the next steps and aid the decision-maker in the process.
NOTE: If an individual involved with a league, or any activity of the Little League program, is under investigation for any type of child abuse, or has a pending charge against, or involving, a minor, that individual must be suspended until the outcome of the investigation or pending charges are complete and the allegations are resolved.
If a local league becomes aware of information at any time, by any means whatsoever, that an
individual, including, but not limited to, volunteers, or players has been charged with, convicted of, pled guilty, pled no contest, or admitted to any crime involving or against a minor, the local league must immediately contact the applicable governmental agency to confirm the accuracy of the information before allowing the volunteer to participate in their position or per their Little League Constitution suspend the volunteer until the information is received and reviewed.
If an individual involved with a league, or any activity of the Little League program, is under investigation for any type of child abuse or has a pending charge against, or involving, a minor, they must be suspended until the outcome of the investigation or pending charges are complete and the allegations are resolved.
Even though convictions or other offenses may not be against a minor, the local league Board of Directors still may deem these individuals as inappropriate and/or unfit and may prohibit him/her from working as a hired worker or volunteer within the league. The league should have this information in writing in their by-laws and provide details of what charges are appropriate or inappropriate for a position. For example, if an individual is volunteering for a role as a treasurer but has fraud charges, the league may state they are unfit. If an individual is volunteering for a role as a coach and has DUI, the league may decide they can not drive with players.
The local League President shall only share personal information contained in the volunteer application, background check, or other information obtained through the screening process with other members of the Board of Directors to make personnel decisions. This information should not be publicly distributed and should only be used to determine if the individual is fit or unfit to be a participant.
The individual must first contact local law enforcement if a minor is in immediate danger. The individual should then contact the correct agency in their state. Because child abuse laws vary from state to state, the individual should be educated on their state laws before reporting the abuse. The SafeSport Law states that the report must be made within 24 hours from witnessing the abuse. Once the abuse is reported, the individual should contact their league president and District Administrator, as well as the Security Manager at Little League International.
Even if a league volunteer does not witness the abuse but received the information from a reputable source, they should report the abuse to the correct agencies. Little League volunteers should not attempt to investigate the suspected abuse.
The “Good Faith” policy was put into effect because under the law, fear of retribution should not influence the decision of an adult or minor to step forward to report a potential child abuse claim. The good faith or non-retaliation policy protects an individual from liabilities about a claim even if the claim is found unsubstantiated.
If an individual in the league is found to lie about the abuse, that individual is not protected by the “Good Faith” policy and could face legal action. Also, if the individual is a member of the league, they could be removed for not obeying by the local league’s code of conduct.
There is no way to eliminate one-on-one contact with minors, but it should be limited. However, there are set guidelines that only approved and appointed volunteers, who have completed the required background checks and Mandatory Abuse Awareness Training, should supervise players.
Little League International directs leagues to utilize the “buddy system” and promote the practice of having more than one volunteer accompany a minor(s). If there is a one-on-one situation needed between an adult volunteer and a minor, it must be in an open, public environment.
Substantial evidence should be presented to the local Little League board, so the volunteer is aware of his actions. The accused volunteer should understand that this is not acceptable and asked to follow the one-on-one interactions guidelines. Help create a player-centric environment, so the league can continually educate its members. If the problem persists, the board should take appropriate actions against the accused volunteer.
Training and Education is an important tool for both Little League children and Little League participants. It empowers them to recognize potentially compromising situations, and it places a barrier between abusers and their victims. Include the Child Protection Program in your local league’s annual meeting and incorporate the program into your league’s A Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) safety plan.
The Abuse Awareness training that was created by USA Baseball IS mandatory in compliance with Little League Regulation I(c)(10). It is required to be conducted by every individual before assuming any of his/her duties for the current season. Each local league is permitted to determine which specific abuse awareness training program should be completed by their league.
The league is responsible for verifying that each required individual has completed the training by obtaining certificates of completion from each individual and retaining a copy of the certificate. The training must be completed on or after October 1 of each year to be considered valid for the upcoming season.
It is important that all volunteers in a league complete the training on an annual basis. Even though it may be a training the individual has completed in the past, it is important to keep the information that comes from this training fresh in everyone’s mind. The more individuals in a league or involved in a league that have the information that the Abuse Awareness Training provides, the better.
The training is free and includes information from SafeSport in one simple training. If leagues have the opportunity to participate in the Little League tournament, they must validate that the training has been completed prior to the end of the season during the Little League tournament enrollment process.
The Abuse Awareness training IS required to be conducted by every individual before assuming any of his/her duties for the current season. Each local league is permitted to determine which specific abuse awareness training program should be completed by their league. All required trainings must be completed prior to any little league volunteer assuming his/her league duties/responsibilities. Each league’s Board of Directors is advised to review the Child Protection Program and share updates with its membership.
To confirm that the training is adequate, please contact Little League International’s Director of Security, at: 570-326-1921, Extension 2354.
Enforcing a “Code of Conduct” for everyone that participates in the league is important so that players, coaches, umpires, parents, etc., understand that the league does not accept any type of harassment. Instilling the “Code of Conduct” and a enforcing a zero-tolerance policy will allow the league to effective support the rules and remove any individual that does not commit to a safe and encouraging environment at Little League functions.
If an individual has a concern that their local Little League is not following the Little League Child Protection Program, they should contact Little League International’s Director of Security, at 570-326-1921, Extension 2354.
The goal of the Little League Child Protection Program is to prevent child abuse from occurring through an application screening process for all required volunteers and/or hired workers, ongoing training for its staff and volunteers, increased awareness, and mandatory reporting of any abuse.
The safety and well-being of all participants in the Little League program is paramount. The Little League Child Protection Program provides the necessary tools for local leagues to create an environment that is as safe as possible for its players.
Protection begins at the local league level. Every local Little League program must place the safety and well-being of its players above all else. Each league must adhere to the requirements of the Child Protection Program and utilize the additional resources provided to customize its own program to protect its participants which meets the unique needs of the league.
Parents/Guardians play a critical role in assuring the safety of their players. It is critical that leagues arm parents/guardians with awareness and share the Child Protection Program with everyone within the league. Little League International is available to offer assistance to local leagues regarding the Child Protection Program by contacting: [email protected].