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Youth sports safety: How to keep kids safe?

By Brittany Weiner
Published On: Jan 13 2014 08:50:28 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 13 2014 09:11:28 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Brittany Weiner explains how local youth sports programs are making sure kids are safe from criminals.

BEND, Ore. -

Keeping kids active is important for many parents, but so is safety.

"It makes me feel much more comfortable with whose working with my daughter and what they're doing in class," Central Oregon Gymnastics Academy mom Amber Wilson said Monday.

At Central Oregon Gymnastics Academy in Bend, windows allow parents to keep an eye on their children and instructors during class. Even the owner of the facility has a window that looks right into the gym.

Mainly to keep the parents involved, the windows also help assure them their kids are safe.

It's something some parents now worry about, after Acrovision founder and gymnastics instructor Richard Gustafson was arrested last week on sex abuse charges tied to a New Year's sleepover at the gym.

"It's something that's always in the back of your mind I mean the threats there," said Bend Parks and Rec Youth and Adult Sports Manager Russ Holliday. "We feel real confident that the processes we put in place -- we do everything we can to avoid those situations."

Bend Parks and Rec requires background checks for all of its youth coaches. They say they've had no problem turning coaches away, if something turns up in those checks.

"Safety is No. 1," Holliday said.

Central Oregon Gymnastics Academy also performs background checks.
It's actually a requirement for all gymnastics coaches that travel for competition, something some people say Gustafson used to do.

Acrovision also has windows for parents to watch their kids practice. We tried contacting the gym again Monday for comment, but nobody called us back.

Gustafson is expected to be arraigned on Wednesday. NewsChannel 21 will be at his court appearance, and we'll have the latest as we learn it.

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