Saturday, 19 November 2011 17:39

We Need to Get Our Kids Out of the Sand

Safe4Athletes - Swimmers

There are simply too many unsolved questions that need to be addressed before we can truly be effective in protecting young athletes from the unethical and possibly criminal actions of coaches:

•    When do sports organizations step in to enforce professional conduct expectations and when are local authorities engaged because of possible criminal behavior?

•    Should the sports community wait until there is evidence from the local authorities that an act of sexual abuse with a minor has occurred before a sports organization takes action?

•    How can we ensure that every athlete is educated about proper athlete – coach relationships, whether a minor or an athlete at consensual age, and understands “quid pro quo” harassment?

•    How do we confront the fact that the nature of the crime of rape is such that there is generally a 2-3 year period of time that passes until the victim has the strength to speak about the trauma?  This leaves a criminal case very difficult to pursue and very little protection to the non-consenting athlete.

•    How do we install systems that effectively confront coach/predator behavior?

•    Can we enhance parents’ efforts to protect their children?   Only the state of Oregon provides some sort of coach registry where parents and athletes can file a complaint about a coach where that information is made available to the public.  Are mandatory background checks effective?  Are there other “due diligence” actions that an organization should pursue?

•    How can we offer support for athletes that have been victims of sexual abuse or harassment during their athletic years so they can heal from these wounds that can affect them, sometimes for the rest of their lives?

•    Is there a neutral party that can be put in place for athletes to gain awareness on how to prevent, protect, and report any suspicious behavior?

The time has come to make the issue of coach misconduct a priority.  These are our children.  We need to get our heads out of the sand.

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