The voice on the other line sounded thoughtful and absolute. “I am the State Attorney now, but I used to be a prosecutor for sexual abuse victims. What the detective told you is incorrect. We can help.” When the victim’s mother learned the good news, she wondered, if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a country to protect one.
Pamela Minix is a co-founder of Lasso Safe, a non-profit founded in 2010 for youth and sports safety. She is also the mother of a survivor who was sexually abused from age three to six.
Tragedy Amends Technology
With her partner, Luis Hernandez, Pamela established Lasso Safe to research psychological wellness in sport, not knowing that years in, her family’s peregrination would lead Lasso Safe to build a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence system. Now Lasso Safe’s independent board has announced the formation of Competition Development Council, the sum of their research integrated with new technology to certify sports and esports organizations. Unifying principals and participants throughout the country, Competition Development Council can change how safety is handled.
Pamela still remembers the moments her daughter shared that she is a survivor of sexual abuse. It didn’t come out all at once in a clear and concise timeline. She didn’t even have the medical or legal wording to describe her experiences; but as she slowly illuminated her life behind closed doors, Pamela’s response was consistent. Pamela comforted her as she relived one assault after another and promised that she is safe now. She brought them to light, Pamela explained, it won’t happen again.
As those words came out of her mouth, Pamela knew there was only one way they could be true. She couldn’t do this alone. Pamela got on the phone and called the strongest, brightest people she knew. She dug into her connections from the last decade of research around the country and united a force that she believed could surround her daughter with the protection she needed.
Six months later, Pamela learned that her contact list was not deep enough. Even the best-intended authorities can fall short in their knowledge of the law, sanction restrictions and simply time and resources. Pamela’s reach expanded to her friends and family connections and she began to find that the state attorney, months prior, was right. Survivors have help… all it takes is a country coming together.
Inclined by her own experience, Pamela had new ideas for the assertion of Lasso Safe’s research. Lasso Safe already had an all-star board, but for their new expansion, they diversified their members to include CTO Ed Keidat and Dr. Valliere, and contributors from ESPN and the International Olympic Committee. Their goal was to build a platform for the country to come together for sports safety.
Step by step, their intentions were coded into reality. Competition Development Council’s certification is armed with an artificial intelligence platform that is built to scale for the 40-60M US youth sports participants, e-sports participants and their leaders in place to protect them. Structured with Lasso Safe’s 12 years of research, their scalability evolves hand-in-hand with the industry. Feature and benefits of the Competition Development Council are:
- Feature. Sport community and new technology merge for layers of thoroughness, transparency and accountability.
Benefit. The sport safety model relies heavily on its human task forces. Sadly, the room for human error within these models have been cyclically recognized as inadequate throughout sports history. Alistair Casey, former director of USA Badminton, recently commented, “The next Larry Nassar is out there.”, identifying the consequences of human error in these assigned organizations. Some notable reasons for human errors can be influenced by a. workload and/or inadequate experience and education of the case worker(s), b. alleged authority figure’s position in sport, c. the timing of the report received in relation to competitions, d. financial associations of alleged authority figure and organization(s) and e. lack of communication between assigned organizations involved.
As a solution, Competition Development Council uses its independent board and new technology to come alongside and merge the assigned organization(s), as well as employ its AI. The result – layers of case thoroughness, transparency and accountability that inherently resolve opportunities for human error and encourages all cases to be handled equally. This model maintains unified standards void of industry influences.
- Feature. Certification. Certification is an independent verification program and the standard for the research, education and certification of safe cultures in youth, amateur and Olympic sport and e-sport.
Benefit. Lasso Safe is an open and balanced coalition of sport leaders – athletic champions, policymakers, executives and more.
Together, Lasso Safe created Competition Development Council as a way to measure sport culture safety and to provide a roadmap for developing a truly high-performance culture that prospers through equality and excellence; a simple, metrics-based system to define what a safe community is. Competition Development Council is a baseline – a universally agreed upon holistic system of metrics for reducing psychological, physical and sexual abuse and promoting sports safety, higher performance and expanded athletic careers.
- Feature. Wellness reports, abuse reports and rectification summaries. Assigned safety organizations receive a detailed report processed and rendered by Competition Development Council’s AI.
Benefit. Key benefits are: a. certified community’s safety hygiene is measured on a reoccurring schedule, b. AI technology calculates nuances of safe vs. abusive processes, c. through abuse cycle recognition, algorithm detects early risk factors that are commonly overlooked by the human eye and produces an exhaustive summary, c. threshold reports activate automated alerts to appropriate industry and governmental authorities, c. strategic suggestions generated for involved organizations d. AI uses mass data to learn abusive cycles and patterns to stay ahead of the curve on current issues.
- Feature. Profile and persona led by a centralized database. All reports are filed and stored in a secured, central database. A profile that describes the alleged persona is generated when multiple abuse reports of a single authority figure is recognized. Rectification reports accompany the profile and is permanently published for the public.
Benefit. Sports organizations can span counties and states, even our entire country, while some members and staff are engaged for decades. Opportunity for a lifelong involvement in a diverse community is certainly a positive of sport, but also gives stage to the dilution of its members’ voices. Competition Development Council’s centralized database strengthens the voice of our country’s sports industry by bringing all of its reports together in one place. A profile is automatically triggered when repetition of an alleged authority figure is identified by AI and verified by Lasso Safe’s independent board.
This feature empowers the people in sports, ensures accountability and transparency and promotes closed rectification loops.
- Feature. Threshold reports activate automated alerts in accordance with the abuse alleged. Lower-level abuse is recognized, reported and requires a closed rectification loop in order to maintain certification.
Benefit. While all levels of abuse are processed by Competition Development Council, a unique feature is their handling of the lower-level ones. Lower-level reports include bullying, favoritism, normalizing, erosion of personal boundaries and much more. These attributes do not reach the threshold of criminal abuse and are not protected by laws; however, Lasso Safe’s research and technology has learned that they are precursors to a harmful environment and worthy of correction. Lower-level abuse reporting gives opportunity for early intervention and can mitigate the risk of escalation, saving both lives and cost.
Pilot programs of Competition Development Council are under way for sport and e-sport, with host communities including Villanova University, Georgian Court University and Lake Highland Prep through Fleming Tech Camps, Sand Mountain Park & Amphitheater, and more. Open registration begins 8/27/2022.