The Ministry of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports has unveiled amendments to the Child Law, intended to extend additional protections to young athletes.

The policy outlines how to recognize abuse, how to respond to instances, and methods to report transgressions. To prevent possible abuses, national sports associations and member clubs will be required to subject new hires to a self-disclosure form, vetting by consulting references, a criminal background check and training on child safety policies.

Each association will also be required to hire a child protection officer for reporting purposes. Officials will be required to report concerns or suspicions of abuse.

Osbourne Bodden, minister of community affairs, youth and sports, said the policy has become necessary due to the evolution of Caymanian society.

“I never dreamt when I was a teenager that we would have the need for such a policy. Playing sports as a youngster, as I’ve done all my life, we grew up around well-meaning people and people who looked after us like our parents when they weren’t available. But as we’ve come to this point in development in these islands, such a policy is necessary,” Minister Bodden said.

“We do bring in coaches all the time. We bring in people who work with athletes and we have to ensure we know who we are bringing in.”

The policy does not yet specify sanctions for non-compliance, but Mr. Bodden said associations will be incentivized to maintain youth protections.

“We have not specified what the sanctions would be, but you can believe me, there will be sanctions and we reserve the right to take action against any association that decides they don’t want to be a part of it,” Mr. Bodden said.

“We also have the right to name and shame.”

Assistant Chief Officer Joel Francis said the government will also be looking to extend youth protections to other, non-sports activities, such as scouting and arts programs.

Felicia Robinson, director of the Department of Children and Family Services, said the policy establishes an obligation to shield children from harm.

“We are guided by the principle view that not only is it a child’s right to participate and learn and enjoy sports in a safe environment but it also our obligation to assist in creating safe and positive sporting environments,” she said.

“Any one of us may be the only defense a child has.”

The policy was signed Wednesday by Lucille Seymour, president of the Cayman Islands Netball Association; Derek Haines, president of the Cayman Rugby Football Union; Annmarie Byrd, president of the Cayman Islands Boxing Association; and Minister Bodden.

The first training sessions will be held Feb. 9 in Cayman Brac and Feb. 16-23 in Grand Cayman.

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