This week the Cal Ripken Sr Foundation came together with NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) to discuss Safe to Compete and address sexual abuse in Sports.
What did we learn that would make sports a better place and a safe and positive environment for all athletes?
The highlight of the conference was that there seems to be a general consensus in the room; to unify background checks. There is a need to the fill the gaps to expose the abuser that continually beats the system and fall through the cracks because of inconsistencies across agencies that maintain felony files. Another issue that was raised is the ability to flag coaches/volunteers that had a sexual abuse charge dismissed that pertained to a minor. If a system can be put in place to install a more meaningful database that all people can draw from so we have a better chance of identifying abusers who have left organizations before suspension, termination or completion of investigations.
Another highlight was data around gender equity in sports leadership. In sports where the board of directors is 50/50 there is significantly less sexual abuse.
The low lights of the conference were the lack of knowledge about and sensitivity to sexual abuse in competitive sports. There seems to have been a misconception about the number of unprotected athletes that we are talking about-- there are 60 million young athletes in open amateur sport community-based multisport organizations.
What wasn't touched on or insufficiently addressed is the multiple levels of abuse that an athlete experiences, many of which are often justified in the guise of "sport" – abuse like physical punishment and verbal and emotional abuse. The problem became bigger as we realized that we don't understand why these commonly acceptable sport behaviors constitute abuse. With the growing number of women now in sports, this demographic is even more susceptible to all aspects of abuse especially sexual abuse and harassment. A study that came out of Japanese Olympic Committee found that 12% of Judo athlete complained about some sort of abuse or sexual harassment according to the BBC Sports. This number doesn't account for those don't feel safe to speak up or ones that don't know want abuse is.
In closing, on another low light is the imbalance of women in leadership roles as sports coaches as well as on the boards of leagues and associations.
We can make a difference today by adopting effective and thorough policies already available atSafe4Athletes.org/4-clubs . We need to know that the culture of abuse in sports will not be addressed through the court system which will handle only the most egregious cases. Each of us at the local program level must be protectors. This means we must educate our coaches, athletes and parents and we must adopt and enforce policies. We cannot wait for someone else to act.
USA Swimming Safe Sport Handbook
There are a lot of great reasons to swim – at any level. As a life‐long activity, people often swim to have fun and spend time with friends. Swimming also encourages a healthy lifestyle and builds self‐confidence. Swimmers even benefit from the sport out of the water. They learn goal‐setting, teamwork and time management skills. Unfortunately, sports, including swimming, can also be a high‐risk environment for misconduct, including physical and sexual abuse. All forms of misconduct are intolerable and in direct conflict with the values of USA Swimming. Misconduct may damage an athlete’s psychological well‐being. Athletes who have been mistreated experience social embarrassment, emotional turmoil, psychological scars, loss of self‐esteem and negative impacts on their relationships with family, friends and the sport. Misconduct often hurts an athlete’s competitive performance and may cause him or her to drop out of our sport entirely. USA Swimming is committed to fostering a fun, healthy and safe sport enviornment for all its members. We all must recognize that the safety of swimmers lies with all those involved in the sport and is not the sole responsibility of any one person at the club, LSC, or national level.
Complete Handbook available for download
Since the Sandusky case we have all been made aware that sexual abuse of a young child by a coach is possible. Yet, more attention to the subject and types of sexual abuse in sports needs to be committed to addressing this topic and to developing an infrastructure that supports the needs of the athletes for a safe and positive environment in sports.
The world of sports is complex in regards to the coach-athlete relationship. Although a large proportion of US children participate in youth sport (40 Million), we do not give appropriate attention to analysis of the four differing types of sexual abuse in sports; pedophilia, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and athlete domestic violence.
Download the USOC Safe Sport Handbook
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Five Olympic medalists and other current and former members of the U.S. speedskating team filed complaints accusing head coach Jae Su Chun of “unchecked” verbal, physical and psychological abuse.
Nineteen athletes filed a wide-ranging grievance against U.S. Speedskating and 14 signed a complaint with the U.S. Olympic Committee. The Chicago Tribune and Salt Lake Tribune reported on the accusations.
Attorney Edward Williams, who represents the skaters, said the abuse was “outrageous.”
The code of conduct complaint accuses Chun of slamming an athlete against a wall and repeatedly hitting him, throwing bottles and chairs at skaters, and repeatedly telling female skaters they were “fat” and “disgusting.”
INSIDE THE BRAIN OF AN ELITE ATHLETE
Abstract | Events like the World Championships in athletics and the Olympic Games raise the
public profile of competitive sports. They may also leave us wondering what sets the
competitors in these events apart from those of us who simply watch. Here we attempt to
link neural and cognitive processes that have been found to be important for elite
performance with computational and physiological theories inspired by much simpler
laboratory tasks. In this way we hope to inspire neuroscientists to consider how their basic
research might help to explain sporting skill at the highest levels of performance.
By Katherine Starr
The NCAA levied a $60 million sanction against Penn State University after reviewing the outcome of the Freeh report which identified the failures of the institution to protect the victims and putting the institution’s needs above the law. Penn State was obligated to comply with child welfare laws and Title IX; it failed. Laws were in place. In the case of Title IX, the institution had required policies and procedures in place. The institution did all of the things it was supposed to do on paper and ultimately, but ultimately this was no more than “lip service” to its legal and ethical obligations. The lesson to be learned from Penn State is a pretty simple one. The organization reflects the values and ethics of its leadership. When a law like Title IX gets passed, whether it is the sexual harassment provisions of the law or its athletics participation requirements, if the institution does not embraces its purpose, educate its staff and make certain that all employees clearly understand their obligations – then Sandusky happens. No one in the formal leadership – presidents and senior administrators – or in the informal power club – Paterno, made it clear that compliance with the law was an expected zero tolerance obligation.
American wins gold medal but her most important victory came when she gave evidence against coach who abused her
As Kayla Harrison strived for a judo gold medal yesterday – the first in America's history – it was one of those occasions which remind you that sometimes the margin between victory and defeat is so fine that in a vital way it ceases to exist.
Certainly, you could make such an assessment of the Olympic fate of the 22-year-old who a few years ago was found sobbing uncontrollably in the corridor of a US courthouse.
It was on the day she gave the evidence that sent her coach from childhood down for 10 years for sexual abuse.
Not surprisingly for many – and maybe not least Harrison, who is ranked world No 2 in her 78kg category – yesterday was as much an exorcism as a last push for glory.
WAKEFIELD, Mass. — Too often, an Olympic dream for glory brings instead sexual abuse.
In the case of Middletown’s Kayla Harrison, the No. 2 judo athlete in the world in her 78-kilo (172-pound) weight class, it will have brought both should she win gold — as she’s favored to do — at the London Olympic Games.
Now 22 and living and training in Wakefield, Mass., Harrison was sexually abused from the time she was 13 to 16 by Daniel Doyle, her Centerville judo coach. Doyle is now serving a 10-year sentence in a federal prison.
PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE AMATEUR SPORT ACT TO ADVANCE ATHLETE WELFARE AND SAFETY
by Katherine Starr
Unlike athletes and students in schools and colleges who are protected by Title IX’s sexual harassment and abuse provisions, athletes in open amateur sports are currently unprotected from coach or sport leader misconduct except by criminal law. While the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has promulgated recommended policies, it does not require its national sport governing bodies (NGBs) nor the local organizations and coaches who are members of these championship conducting entities, to have such protections in place. Thus, children and adult participants in non-school youth sports programs nationwide are vulnerable to pedophiles and unethical coaches who use parent and athlete respect for their positions to manipulate their athletes to engage in inappropriate relationships and sexual exploitation.