From the JVA Office: Preventing Injuries That Don't Heal


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Athletic injuries, in most cases, can be treated and rehabilitated in a few weeks to a few months. The athlete returns to the team and life goes on. In the case of emotional harm due to harassment or abuse, the injury may not be apparent for weeks, months or years. The athlete may never be the same. This is a tragedy we want to eliminate from our sport. Here are three ways the JVA is committed to the protection of our athletes.

1.  EDUCATION

It is the mission of the JVA to promote the growth of youth and junior volleyball. In order to grow our sport, it is essential for participants to have a safe, positive experience, focused on character development, as well as athletic development.

According to "Darkness to Light," an organization dedicated to ending child sexual abuse:

  • "70-80% of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol abuse 50% have suicidal thoughts and more than 20% attempt suicide
  • Females who are sexually abused are more likely to develop eating disorders
  • Sexually abused children who keep it a secret or who "tell" and are not believed are at a greater risk for psychological, emotional, and social problems"

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, StopBullying.Gov, reports that harassment (bullying, cyber-bullying, or sexual harassment) can lead to long-term problems that may persist into adulthood:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Increased feelings of sadness and loneliness
  • Changes in sleep and eating patterns
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Health complaints
  • Decreased academic achievement in GPA and standardized test scores and school participation
  • Missing school, skipping school or even dropping out of school

Educating the coaches, administrators and student athletes on preventative measures, as well as protocol is the first step in protecting our athletes.

2.  PREVENTION

One of JVA's Guiding Principals is Player Welfare. The protection of our members' athletes is a priority. As leaders in junior volleyball, we must institute safeguards to protect our athletes.

Background screenings need to be done. JVA provides an excellent screening process by NCSI that includes a county-by-county search and an automatic re-search after a year. However, background screenings only catch individuals who have been convicted. The Team USA Safe Sport Program is a good program to educate your staff on recognition and prevention.

That is not enough, you need to take the next steps. Background screenings only catch convicted felons. Safe Sport only educates your staff. Club Directors must have a program in place to share information with players and their families so they also know how to recognize harassment and abuse, how to prevent it and how to report it.

3.  EMPOWERMENT

If you don't have a program in place now, the first place to start is at the AVCA Convention coming up in December. Our partner, NCSI (National Center for Safety Initiatives) is presenting a session: "Relentless Pursuit of Safety: Template for a Club Program to Protect Athletes". Trish McConnell of NCSI will guide you through the steps necessary to make sure your program has processes and policies in place to educate and protect your athletes.

As the leaders and forward thinkers in junior volleyball, we are a voice and a resource for junior clubs so that your club programs and events thrive. The JVA stands by our Guiding Principals:

  1. Member Driven
  2. Player Welfare 
  3. Affordability and Financial Responsibility
  4. Transparency
  5. Best Practices

We want to make sure we are hitting our mark on every principal. 

The JVA is an organization focused entirely on youth and junior volleyball. Our goal is to improve the junior volleyball experience for our JVA clubs, the players and the community. If you are interested in learning more about the JVA and how we can help your club, click here.

About the Author

Jenny Hahn is the Executive Director of the Junior Volleyball Association. Jenny is constantly working with our members to grow and develop junior volleyball in their club and region. Click here to reach out to Jenny about your club.


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