By EDDIE PELLS – AP National Writer
DENVER (AP) — USA Swimming has added technology to its abuse reporting systems that will allow for better communication between those coordinating investigations and reporters who wish to remain anonymous.
The organization on Monday announced an agreement with RealResponse, which is International Safe Sports Day.
One of the features of RealResponse’s technology is the ability to exchange information with anonymous reporters via SMS without the reporters having to identify themselves. Although organizations can often act more decisively when victims or witnesses attach their names to reports, anonymous reporting is crucial because victims often fear retaliation if their names become public.
Actual Response has developed a technology which allows journalists to file abuse reports via text message and those who receive the reports to follow while the journalist’s name remains hidden.
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“We used to be able to receive an anonymous report, but we had no way of following up with that person if we had additional questions or didn’t have enough information, or wanted to let them know. what we were doing to follow up,” said Abigail Howard, who oversees USA Swimming’s safe sport program director.
USA Swimming plans to make the technology available to its approximately 400,000 members.
The national governing body is accused in several lawsuits claiming it has failed to protect them from abuse by coaches. In 2010, former USA Swimming executive director, the late Chuck Wielgus, was accused of ignoring or downplaying dozens of sexual abuse cases. About 150 swim coaches have since been banned by the US Center for SafeSport, which was created in response to cases in swimming, gymnastics and other Olympic sports.
Although not affiliated with the SafeSport Center, RealResponse began offering its own technology five years ago to help organizations streamline reporting and better track how they handle and resolve cases. Sometimes organizations get into legal trouble because there isn’t enough documentation to show how they reacted when they were made aware of a case.
The mission, explains the company’s founder, David Chadwick, is to “provide a safe space where people can express themselves and do so in a way that is really accessible and easy to use and, frankly, to help the leaders of these organizations identify problems faster before they escalate. crisis.”
RealResponse has agreements with over 100 college sports programs, a handful of NFL teams, and the National Women’s Soccer League. In the Olympic realm, USA Swimming joins USA Track and Field, US Equestrian, USA Gymnastics and the US Anti-Doping Agency among the organizations that have signed on.
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