Special Olympics International and the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children are launching Operation Safeguard, a new initiative to advance and strengthen the protection of people with intellectual disabilities from physical and sexual abuse.

“The safety and protection of Special Olympics Athletes is our number one priority — a priority that should be constantly addressed through innovation, collaboration and improvement. Operation Safeguard brings together two partners— Special Olympics International and the Beau Biden Foundation— with one vision: a world where people with intellectual disabilities can be their best — fully included, free from exclusion, fully protected, free from sexual and physical abuse.” said Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics.

"Together with Special Olympics, we are fighting to protect the most vulnerable among us, and we are fighting for those who so often do not have a voice to fight for themselves,” said Hallie Biden, Chairwoman of the Beau Biden Foundation. “The Beau Biden Foundation team has years of experience training and developing child safety policies and is fully prepared to help Special Olympics ensure the highest standard of protection for its athletes."

The multi-year initiative will include the review and update of policies, procedures and processes; improvement of incident reporting and tracking; the creation of new trainings for staff and volunteers; a summit on the protection of vulnerable individuals including key stakeholders; and engagement with the law enforcement community as a key partner in protecting athletes. The first phase of the initiative is expected to completed in the next 12 to 18 months.

People with intellectual disabilities, particularly children, are much more likely to be physically and sexually abused. This initiative will enhance awareness of the problem and the best-practice solutions to physical and sexual abuse of all people with ID.