The safety and well-being of all participants in the Little League program is paramount. Little League strives to create an environment that is as safe as possible both on and off the field through efforts such as the Little League Child Protection Policy. The goal of this policy is to prevent child abuse from occurring through an application screening process for all required volunteers, provide training, create awareness, and mandate reporting of any abuse. As part of its efforts, Little League also continues to take steps to stay current by adhering to the youth protection standards of SafeSport and USA Baseball Pure Baseball.
Statement of Policy
Little League has zero tolerance for any type of abuse against a minor, including, but not limited to, sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental, and emotional abuse (as well as any type of bullying, hazing, or harassment). Any individual with an offense involving or against a minor (refer to Volunteer Application), will not be permitted to participate in any Little League programs or activities. Local Little League programs who fail to enforce this zero-tolerance policy will face potential revocation or termination of their little league charter; Refer to Enforcement.
Local leagues should establish a zero-tolerance culture that does not allow any type of activity that permits or promotes any form of misconduct or abuse (mental, physical, emotional, or sexual) between players, coaches, parents/guardians/caretakers, spectators, volunteers, and/or any other individual.
Elements of Policy
A. Volunteer Application Process
Little League regulations require an annual application process for volunteers, which consists of an application and background check.
1. All applicants must complete the Little League Official Volunteer Application and submit a government issued photo identification card. For new applicants, an interview and review of references is necessary (see References 1-3 below).
(a) The Little League Official Volunteer Application can be completed online through the JDP QuickApp or through the Sports Connect Integration with JDP.
2. The background check must, at a minimum, meet the standard of a nationwide criminal search, a national sex offender registry search, a review of the public U.S. Center for SafeSport’s Centralized Disciplinary Database and the Little League International Ineligible/Suspended List. Background checks conducted by JDP for local little leagues include all the required database searches. Local leagues may utilize other background check providers but will need to confirm the provider’s ability to satisfy all the above requirements for a complete search, which may require contacting Little League International to gain access to the Little League International Ineligible/Suspended List. See Reference 1 and 4 for specific requirements and procedures for background checks.
3. The league board must review the results of the background check with the Little League Official Volunteer Application and a government issued photo identification card to verify that the information provided on both is identical (Full Name, DOB, and address).
4. This Volunteer Application Process must be completed and approved before an individual is permitted to participate in any Little League activity.
Offenses that Prohibit Participation:
1. Any pending charge, conviction, no contest plea, guilty plea, or admission to any crime involving or against a minor;
2. Individual is listed on either of the public U.S. Center for SafeSport’s Centralized Disciplinary Database and/or Little League International Ineligible/Suspended List.
3. If an individual has any charge, conviction, no contest plea, or guilty plea, or admission to any crimes that are considered sexual in nature or listed on the National Sex Offender Registry, they must contact Little League International prior to appointing the individual as a volunteer to participate in any capacity in the league.
NOTE: If an individual involved with a league, or any activity of the Little League program, is under investigation for any type of child abuse, has a pending charge against, or involving, a minor, that individual must be suspended until the outcome of the investigation or pending charges are complete and the allegations are resolved
B. Mandatory Reporting Requirements
When an allegation of abuse is made against a Little League participant, the organization must protect the child from any further potential abuse by keeping the alleged abuser away from all children in the program until the incident is reported to one or more of the below outlets and completely investigated.
1. If the allegations are substantiated, the local league must assure that the individual will not have any further contact with the children in the local league. Little League urges local leagues work with a lawyer who can advise them about the rights of an alleged abuser. Local Little League officials should not attempt to investigate suspected abuse on their own.
1. Child abuse laws vary from state to state. Please refer to the law of your specific state (LittleLeague.org/StateLaws). Federal law establishes a nationwide standard of duty to report suspected child abuse.
2. Any individual who has regular contact with a minor must report suspected child abuse, including sexual abuse, within 24 hours to the proper authorities. Little League International requires that they then must report to their local League President and District Administrator who must contact Little League International at 570-326-1921.
C. Non-Retaliation for Reporting
Concern has been expressed over the potential for criminal or civil liability if a report of abuse is subsequently found to be unsubstantiated. However, potential reporters should not be afraid to come forward in cases where they either have firsthand knowledge of or a good faith belief that abuse has occurred, even if there is a possibility that the report is wrong. Many states provide immunity to those who report suspected child abuse in “good faith.”
D. Prohibited One-on-One Interactions Guidelines
An approved volunteer should not allow themselves to be alone with a minor (who is not their own child) and should always position themselves in an area where they can be observed by others. Leagues must encourage proper supervision at all Little League-approved programs (games, practices, tournaments, travel/transportation, etc.) League-approved volunteers should adhere to the best practices available in the Child Protection Program (See Reference 1 and 4 below) regarding permitted and prohibited one-on-one interactions.
E. Training & Education
Local Little League Board Members must educate their fellow Little League participants about the Child Protection Program.
1. All approved Little League Baseball and Softball adult participants are highly encouraged to complete the appropriate trainings. These trainings include reviewing documents and interactive videos that were created by USA Baseball and SafeSport.
(a) Pure Baseball Abuse Awareness Training
(b) SafeSport Reporting Training
2. Local Little League Boards should meet annually to discuss any updates to the Child Protection Program, participate in ASAP (see Reference 5 below), stress the role of adult volunteers in the program, and make Little League’s position clear on child abuse while providing additional resources, if necessary.
3. Local Little Leagues should be aware that managers and coaches will have additional standards at certain levels of the Little League International tournament regarding the Abuse Awareness training, which includes mandatory participating in the training at the Region Tournament level.
This policy applies to anyone who has any involvement in a local Little League as well as anyone who participates in Little League-approved programs and activities, including, but not limited to, Board of Directors, volunteers, managers, coaches, umpires, players, and hired workers who provide regular services to the league and/or have repetitive access to or contact with players or teams. Anyone with questions on who the Child Protection Policy applies to should contact Little League International.
Enforcement & Implementation
Any violations of the policies set forth may result in the suspension or revocation of local league’s tournament privileges and/or charter by action of the Charter or Tournament Committees in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Any questions about the interpretation of this policy should be reviewed with the Child Protection Program (see Reference 1 below) or by contacting Little League International. This policy shall be updated or modified as necessary in any manner that protects the minors of Little League.
- Little League® Child Protection Program
- Little League Baseball® Rulebook – Regulation 1(c)8 & 9
- Little League Softball® Rulebook – Regulation 1(c)8 & 9
- Little League® Child Protection – SafeSport Guidance
- Little League® ASAP Program