Documents and Policies
Emotional Abuse Policy
It is the policy of the SMS Youth Hockey Association that there shall be no emotional abuse of any participant involved in any of its Member Programs by an employee, volunteer, independent contractor, or other participant. Emotional abuse involves a pattern of deliberate, non-contact behavior that has the potential to cause emotional or psychological harm to a participant. These behaviors may include verbal acts, physical acts, or acts that deny attention or support. Emotional abuse does not include generally-accepted and age-appropriate coaching methods of skill enhancement, physical conditioning, motivation, team building, appropriate discipline, or improving athletic performance.
Examples of behaviors prohibited by this policy include, without limitation:
- Attack a participant by name-calling.
- Repeatedly and excessively yelling at a participant in a manner that serves no productive motivational purpose.
Physically aggressive behaviors:
- Throwing sports equipment, water bottles, or chairs at participants.
- Punching walls, windows, or other objects.
Bullying, threats, and harassment:
The SMS Youth Hockey Association supports an environment for participation in hockey conducive to the enjoyment of hockey that is free from threats, harassment, and any type of bullying behavior. The purpose of this policy is to promote consistency of approach and to help create a climate in which all types of bullying, harassing, or threatening behavior are regarded as unacceptable.
Bullying is the use of coercion to obtain control over another person or to be habitually cruel to another person. Bullying involves an intentional, persistent, or repeated pattern of committing or willfully tolerating physical and non-physical behaviors that are intended to cause fear, humiliation, or physical harm in an attempt to socially exclude, diminish, or isolate another person. Bullying can occur through written, verbal, or electronically transmitted expression or by means of a physical act or gesture. Bullying behavior is prohibited in any manner in connection with any SMS Youth Hockey Association-sanctioned activities or events.
Examples of bullying prohibited by this policy include, without limitation:
- Punching, kicking, or choking an athlete.
Verbal and emotional behaviors:
- The use of electronic communications (i.e., “cyberbullying”), to harass, frighten, degrade, intimidate, or humiliate.
While other team members are often the perpetrators of bullying, it is a violation of this policy if a coach or other responsible adult knows or should know of the bullying behavior but takes no action to intervene on behalf of the targeted participant.
An SMS Youth Hockey member who engages in any act of emotional abuse is subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, permanent suspension, and/or referral to law enforcement authorities.
Locker Room Policy
In addition to the development of our hockey players and enjoyment of the sport of hockey, the safety and protection of our participants are central to the SMS Youth Hockey Association goals. The SMS Youth Hockey Association adheres to USA Hockey’s SafeSport Program as a means to help protect its participants from physical abuse, sexual abuse, and other types of misconduct, including emotional abuse, bullying, threats, harassment, and hazing. To help prevent abuse or misconduct from occurring in our locker rooms, the SMS Youth Hockey Association has adopted the following locker room policy. This policy is designed to maintain personal privacy as well as to reduce the risk of misconduct in locker rooms.
At the various arenas, there are a number of locker rooms available for our program’s use. Some of the locker rooms have their own restroom and/or shower areas or share a restroom and/or shower area with one or more locker rooms. Some teams in our program may also occasionally or regularly travel to play games at other arenas, and those locker rooms, restrooms, and shower facilities will vary from location to location. SMS Youth Hockey Association team organizers will attempt to provide information on the locker room facilities in advance of games away from our home arena(s). At arenas for which you are unfamiliar, parents should plan to have extra time and some flexibility in making arrangements for their child to dress, undress, and shower if desired.
Locker Room Monitoring:
The SMS Youth Hockey Association has predictable and limited use of locker rooms and changing areas (e.g., generally 30-45 minutes before and following practices and games). This allows for direct and regular monitoring of the locker room areas. While constant monitoring inside of the locker rooms and changing areas might be the most effective way to prevent problems, we understand that this would likely make some players uncomfortable and may even place our staff at risk for unwarranted suspicion. We conduct a sweep of the locker rooms and changing areas before players arrive, and if the coaches are not inside the locker rooms, either a coach or voluntary locker room monitor (each of which has been screened) will be posted directly outside of the locker rooms and changing areas during periods of use, and leave the doors open only when adequate privacy is still possible, so that only participants (coaches and players), approved team personnel and family members are permitted in the locker room. Team personnel will also secure the locker room appropriately during times when the team is on the ice.
Parents In Locker Rooms:
Except for players in the younger age groups (6U, 8U, and 10U), we discourage parents from entering locker rooms unless it is truly necessary. If a player needs assistance with his or her uniform or gear, if the player is or may be injured, or if a player’s disability warrants assistance, then we ask that parents let the coach know beforehand that he or she will be helping the player. Naturally, with our youngest age groups, it is necessary for parents to assist the players in getting dressed. We encourage parents to teach their players as young as possible how to get dressed so that players will learn as early as possible how to get dressed independently. In circumstances where parents are permitted in the locker room, coaches are permitted to ask that the parents leave for a short time before the game and for a short time after the game so that the coaches may address the players. As players get older, the coach may at his or her discretion prohibit parents from a locker room.
Mixed Gender Teams:
Some of our teams consist of both male and female players. It is important that the privacy rights of all of our players are given consideration and appropriate arrangements made. Where possible, the SMS Youth Hockey Association will have the male and female players dress/undress in separate locker rooms and then convene in a single locker room before the game or team meeting. Once the game or practice is finished, the players may come to one locker room for a team meeting and then the male and female players proceed to their separate locker rooms to undress and shower, if available. If separate locker rooms are not available, then the players will take turns using the locker room to change. We understand that these arrangements may require that players arrive earlier or leave later to dress, but believe that this is the most reasonable way to accommodate and respect all of our players.
Cell Phones and Other Mobile Recording Devices:
Cell phones and other mobile devices with recording capabilities, including voice recording, still cameras, and video cameras, are not permitted to be used in the locker rooms. If phones or other mobile devices must be used, they should be taken outside of the locker room. (It may be permissible to have a team manager collect phones).
Prohibited Conduct and Reporting:
The SMS Youth Hockey Association prohibits all types of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, bullying, threats, harassment, and hazing, all as described in the USA Hockey SafeSport Handbook. Participants, employees, or volunteers in the SMS Youth Hockey Association may be subject to disciplinary action for violation of these locker room policies or for engaging in any misconduct or abuse or that violates the USA Hockey SafeSport Policies. For reports of any actual or suspected violations, you may email USA Hockey at SafeSport@usahockey.org or may call 1-800-888-4656.
The SMS Youth Hockey Association has teams that travel regularly to play individual games, two or three games at a time, or in tournaments, have some teams where travel is limited to only a few events per year, and some teams where there is no travel other than local travel to and from our own arena. The SMS Youth Hockey Association has established policies to guide our travel to minimize one-on-one interactions and reduce the risk of abuse or misconduct. Adherence to these travel guidelines will increase player safety and improve the player’s experience while keeping travel a fun and enjoyable experience. We distinguish between travel to training, practice, and local games or practices (“local travel”), and team travel involving a coordinated overnight stay (“team travel”).
- Local travel occurs when the SMS Youth Hockey Association or one of its teams does not sponsor, coordinate, or arrange for travel.
- Players and/or their parents/guardians are responsible for making all arrangements for local travel. The team and its coaches, managers, or administrators should avoid responsibility for arranging or coordinating local travel. It is the responsibility of the parents/guardians to ensure the person transporting the minor player maintains the proper safety and legal requirements, including, but not limited to, a valid driver’s license, automobile liability insurance, a vehicle in safe working order, and compliance with applicable state laws.
- The employees, coaches, and/or volunteers of the SMS Youth Hockey Association or one of its teams, who are not also acting as a parent, should not drive alone with an unrelated minor player and should only drive with at least two players or another adult at all times unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the minor player’s parent.
- Where an employee, coach, and/or volunteer is involved in an unrelated minor player’s local travel, efforts should be made to ensure that the adult personnel is not alone with the unrelated player, by, e.g., picking up or dropping off the players in groups. In any case, where an employee, coach, and/or volunteer is involved in the player’s local travel, a parental release should be obtained in advance.
- Employees, coaches, and volunteers who are also a player’s parent or guardian may provide shared transportation for any player(s) if they pick up their player first and drop off their player last in any shared or carpool travel arrangement.
- It is recognized that in some limited instances, it will be unavoidable for an employee, coach, or volunteer of the SMS Youth Hockey Association or one of its teams to drive alone with an unrelated minor player. However, efforts should be made to minimize these occurrences and to mitigate any circumstances that could lead to allegations of abuse or misconduct.
Team travel is overnight travel that occurs when the SMS Youth Hockey Association or one of its teams sponsors, coordinates, or arranges for travel so that our teams can compete locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally. Because of the greater distances, coaches, staff, volunteers and chaperones will often travel with the players.
- When possible, the SMS Youth Hockey Association will provide reasonable advance notice before team travel. Travel notice will also include designated team hotels for overnight stays as well as a contact person within the SMS Youth Hockey Association or the team. This individual will be the point of contact to confirm your intention to travel and to help with travel details.
- The SMS Youth Hockey Association will post specific travel itineraries when they become available. These will include a more detailed schedule as well as contact information for team travel chaperones. The SMS Youth Hockey Association will make efforts to provide adequate supervision through coaches and other adult chaperones. The SMS Youth Hockey Association will make efforts so that there is at least one coach or adult chaperone for each five to eight players. If a team is composed of both male and female players, then we will attempt to arrange chaperones of both genders. However, we rely on parents to serve as chaperones and may be limited in providing this match.
- Regardless of gender, a coach shall not share a hotel room or other sleeping arrangements with a minor player (unless the coach is the parent, guardian, or sibling of the player).
- Because of the greater distances, coaches, staff, volunteers, and chaperones will often travel with the players. No employee, coach, or volunteer will engage in team travel without the proper safety requirements in place and on record, including valid driver’s licenses, automobile liability insurance as required by applicable state law, a vehicle in safe working order, and compliance with all state laws. All chaperones shall have been screened in compliance with the USA Hockey Screening Policy and all team drivers shall have been screened and the screen shall include a check of appropriate Department of Motor Vehicle records. A parent that has not been screened may participate in team activities and assist with supervision/monitoring of the players, but will not be permitted to have any one-on-one interactions with players.
- Players should share rooms with other players of the same gender, with the appropriate number of players assigned per room depending on accommodations.
- The coach will establish a curfew by which all players must be in their hotel rooms or in a supervised location. Regular monitoring and curfew checks will be made in each room by at least two properly screened adults.
- The team personnel shall ask hotels to block adult pay-per-view channels.
- Individual meetings between a player and coach may not occur in hotel sleeping rooms and must be held in public settings or with additional adults present.
- All players will be permitted to make regular check-in phone calls to parents. Team personnel shall allow for any unscheduled check-in phone calls initiated by either the player or parents.
- Family members who wish to stay in the team hotel are permitted and encouraged to do so.
- The team will make every effort to accommodate reasonable parental requests when a child is away from home without a parent. If any special arrangements are necessary for your child, please contact the team personnel who can either make or assist with making those arrangements.
- Meetings do not occur in hotel rooms, but the team may reserve a separate space for adults and athletes to socialize.
- If disciplinary action against a player is required while the player is traveling without his/her parents, then except where immediate action is necessary, parents will be notified before any action is taken or immediately after the action.
- No coach or chaperone shall at any time be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while performing their coaching and/or chaperoning duties.
- In all cases involving travel, parents have the right to transport their minor player and have the minor player stay in their hotel room.
- During team travel, coaches, team personnel, and chaperones will help players, fellow coaches, and team personnel adhere to policy guidelines, including, without limitation, the Travel Policy, Locker Room Policy, and Reporting Policy.
- Prior to any travel, coaches will endeavor to make players and parents aware of all expectations and rules. Coaches will also support chaperones and/or participate in the monitoring of the players for adherence to curfew restrictions and other travel rules.
Prohibited Conduct and Reporting:
The SMS Youth Hockey Association prohibits all types of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, bullying, threats, harassment, and hazing, all as described in the USA Hockey SafeSport Handbook. Participants, employees, or volunteers in the SMS Youth Hockey Association may be subject to disciplinary action for violation of the Travel Policies or for engaging in any misconduct or abuse that violates the USA Hockey SafeSport Policies.
Sexual Abuse Policy
It is the policy of the SMS Youth Hockey Association that there shall be no sexual abuse of any minor involved in any of its Member Programs by an employee, volunteer, independent contractor or another participant. Sexual abuse of a minor occurs when an adult employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant touches a minor for the purpose of causing the sexual arousal or gratification of either the minor or the employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant.
Sexual abuse of a minor also occurs when a minor touches an employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant for the sexual arousal or sexual gratification of either the minor or the employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant, if the touching occurs at the request or with the consent of the employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant. Sexual contact between or among children also can be abusive if there is a significant disparity in age, development, or size, rendering the younger child incapable of giving informed consent, if there is the existence of an aggressor, or where these is an imbalance of power and/or intellectual capabilities.
The sexually abusive acts may include sexual penetration, sexual touching, or non-contact sexual acts such as exposure or voyeurism. Neither consent of the minor to the sexual contact, mistake as to the participant’s age, nor the fact that the sexual contact did not take place at a hockey function are defenses to a complaint of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse may also occur between adults or to an adult. Sexual abuse includes sexual interactions that are nonconsensual or accomplished by force or threat of force, or coerced or manipulated, regardless of the age of the participants. Sexual abuse may also include non-touching offenses, such as sexually harassing behaviors; an adult discussing his/her sex life with a minor; an adult asking a minor about his/her sex life; an adult requesting or sending a nude or partial dress photo to minor; exposing minors to pornographic material; sending minors sexually explicit electronic messages or photos (e.g.“sexting”); deliberately exposing a minor to sexual acts; or deliberately exposing a minor to inappropriate nudity.
Without limiting the above, any act or conduct described as sexual abuse, sexual misconduct or child sexual abuse under applicable federal or state law constitutes sexual abuse under this policy. Any SMS Youth Hockey Association member who engages in any act of sexual abuse or misconduct is subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, permanent suspension, and/or referral to law enforcement authorities.
Physical Abuse Policy
It is the policy of the SMS Youth Hockey Association that there shall be no physical abuse of any participant involved in any of its Member Programs by any employee, volunteer, independent contractor or other participant. Physical abuse means physical contact with a participant that intentionally causes or has the potential to cause the participant to sustain bodily harm or personal injury. Physical abuse also includes physical contact with a participant that intentionally creates a threat of immediate bodily harm or personal injury. Physical abuse may also include intentionally hitting or threatening to hit an athlete with objects or sports equipment. In addition to physical contact or the threat of physical contact with a participant, physical abuse also includes the providing of alcohol to a participant under the age of consent and the providing of illegal drugs or non-prescribed medications to any participant.
Without limiting the above, any act or conduct described as physical abuse or misconduct under applicable federal or state law constitutes physical abuse under this policy. Physical abuse does not include physical contact that is reasonably designed to coach, teach, demonstrate or improve a hockey skill, including physical conditioning, team building and appropriate discipline. Permitted physical conduct may include, but is not necessarily limited to, shooting pucks at a goaltender, demonstrating checking and other hockey skills, and communicating with or directing participants during the course of a game or practice by touching or moving them in a non-threatening, non-sexual manner. Any SMS Youth Hockey Association member who engages in any act of physical abuse is subject to appropriate disciplinary action by the Board of Directors, including but not limited to suspension, permanent suspension, and/or referral to law enforcement authorities.