Leading Gundersen National Child Protection Expert to Review USA Swimming’s Safe Sport Program


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Victor Vieth, executive director of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center and one of the nation’s foremost experts on the prevention of child neglect and abuse, has been selected to conduct an independent examination of USA Swimming’s Safe Sport program.

As part of the review, Mr. Vieth will measure USA Swimming’s abuse-prevention program against the best practices of other youth-serving and youth sports organizations, assessing its effectiveness and offering recommendations for improvement. The completed report, expected in January 2014, will be made available to the public.

“The Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center staff and I look forward to conducting an independent, in-depth review of USA Swimming’s Safe Sport program,” said Mr. Vieth. “We applaud USA Swimming for giving us unencumbered access to allow our team to scrutinize the program, and, more importantly, to come up with solid recommendations to improve it.”

The evaluation includes:
• Review of the USA Swimming Safe Sport program:
     - Policies and guidelines
     - Screening and selection
     - Education and training
     - Monitoring and supervision
     - Recognizing, reporting, and responding
     - Grassroots engagement and feedback
• Review Safe Sport website, handbook, and other printed program materials
• Review USA Swimming Code of Conduct
• Review Safe Sport educational materials including online training, webinars, articles, and presentations
• Interviews with USA Swimming leadership, including volunteer and staff
• Interviews with individuals outside of USA Swimming

“This review is part of USA Swimming’s ongoing commitment to the safety of our athletes, and the evolution of our Safe Sport program to continue to increase awareness and reduce the risk of abuse in our sport,” said Chuck Wielgus, executive director of USA Swimming. “We look forward to the results of this third-party report and to implementing improvements and changes that will make our program even stronger, and show that our organization has no tolerance for violations of our Code of Conduct, and how we have steps in place to rid the sport of abusers.”

As executive director of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC), Mr. Vieth works with his staff to end child abuse, neglect and other forms of child maltreatment in three generations through education, training, awareness, prevention, advocacy, and the pursuit of justice. Gundersen NCPTC staff provides intensive instruction for students and current professionals in the field on how to better recognize, react, and respond to children who are being abused. The non-profit center trains approximately 15,000 child protection professionals each year. The Gundersen NCPTC is a program of Gundersen Health System, based in La Crosse, Wis.

Vieth and the Gundersen NCPTC have conducted independent reviews before and in May of 2013 released the findings of “Silent Tears”, a report which was a year-long review of child sex abuse in South Carolina. (Silent Tears Full Report)

Mr. Vieth has trained thousands of child-protection professionals from all 50 states, and 17 countries on numerous topics pertaining to child abuse investigations, prosecutions, and prevention. He gained national recognition for his work in addressing child abuse in small communities as a prosecutor in rural Minnesota.

Susan Woessner, director of Safe Sport states, “At USA Swimming, our members actively engage in our Safe Sport effort by going through training, making appropriate reference checks and reporting potential instances of abuse. Mr. Vieth’s review will put our program to the test as we continue to improve how we create a safe environment for our 350,000 members.”

Get more information about Safe Sport on USA Swimming’s website, including FAQs, list of banned coaches, training and education links, and information about reporting misconduct or abuse.

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