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Dickey helping to protect kids from sexual abuse

TORONTO -- Blue Jays right-hander R.A. Dickey has stepped forward with a direct donation to develop a resource that will help create safe environments for children in sports organizations.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has partnered with the Jays Care Foundation to create Commit to Kids -- Sport Edition. The key piece of literature has strategies, policies and a step-by-step plan for reducing the risk of child sexual abuse.

The kit also includes a guide for sports organizations and a training video in addition to materials for parents and sports leaders. It's an important issue that has impacted children all over the world and particularly hits close to home for Dickey.

"I carried the pain of sexual abuse for more than two decades. As a kid I didn't know how to deal with it, so I tried to forget. But you can't forget," said Dickey, who disclosed in 2007 that at the age of 8, he was sexually abused by a female babysitter and later by a teenage male.

"When kids register for sports they are entrusted to our care, and we have every responsibility to take all the steps possible to create positive experiences to enhance their development. This program helps sports organizations to do that."

Based on the Canadian Centre for Child Protection's original Commit to Kids program, this resource helps to create safe environments for children in sport by providing organizations with a plan using a risk-management approach that is much broader than criminal record and child abuse registry checks for preventing child sexual abuse.

Because the majority of offenders do not have a criminal record, relying solely on record checks is ineffective in protecting kids from individuals who may cause harm to children. In the past three months, 800 Commit to Kids -- Sport Edition kits have already been distributed through the Blue Jays Annual Coaching Clinic and to the Ontario Baseball Association's Annual Coaching Clinic.

"We are so proud of this new partnership with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Jays Care Foundation," said Lianna McDonald, executive director at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. "Jays Care has taken a leadership role in saying we are invested in the personal safety of children within communities. This resource, developed with their support, will enable sports organizations to proactively take steps to protect children."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.
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