If It Feels Wrong, It Is Wrong...
Parents Must Understand, Teach Their Children, and Recognize the Grooming Behaviors of Sexual Predators.
The following information was developed from information provided by Educate Empower Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to “providing resources to parents and caregivers to encourage connection and healthy relationships through love, communication, education and empowerment.” This website contains valuable information on how to speak with your children about sexual and other topics that are critically important to the protection of children.
The best way for your child to avoid being a victim is to educate them about what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behavior between children and adults. Your club encourages you to speak with your children and provides the following information to assist you:
Tell your child not to accept presents from coaches or staff members and to let you know if they are ever offered.
A coach should not be spending time at the home of an athlete or befriending parents to get closer to their child. A parent should not think that the coach providing special individual attention to your child is related to the coach believing their child is more talented than others. Our coaches are told not to play favorites or treat athletes differently. A coach should never invite a child to attend a game or other social activity unless it is an official team activity.
Congratulatory ‘high fives’ and a pat on the back are allowed while hugs and draping arms around players are not.
Teach your children that any physical contact between child and adult is something to be wary of and questioned.
If your child starts to talk (uncharacteristically) about sex and things related to it, never overlook this kind of development because it might be a sign that he or she is being groomed. Be aware of the physical signs as well. If your toddler is masturbating or trying to touch others inappropriately, this may be a sign that there is a problem.
Our coaches are prohibited from emailing athletes individually. All emails are to parents or copied to parents and they should always be about team business.
We prohibit our coaches from discussing personal or family problems with athletes. They are not licensed counselors.
You should caution your children that no adult should ever ask them to keep a secret from their parents.
Even though these statistics are alarming and information about artful grooming techniques used by sexual predators seem overwhelming, it is reassuring to know that many of today’s kids are not afraid to speak up for themselves or to question authority figures. While this behavior can be a frustrating at times, it can serve these children well in situations where an adult is attempting grooming behaviors.
What the Safe4Athletes Team Program Will Tell Your Child
An athletic team cannot replace a parent with regards to educating a child about human anatomy and intimate relations. What Safe4Athletes can do is educate an athlete about behaviors that are unacceptable and give them the confidence to report them to a parent and to the team’s Athlete Welfare Advocate (AWA) when they occur. Note: we recommend one male and one female adult to fulfill the AWA role(s). At an annual meeting, the Athlete Welfare Advocate reviews grooming information with athletes. The coaching staff and team management also receive annual training where prohibitions and the same grooming behaviors are outlined. Coaches, parents, and athletes alike are all responsible for reporting concerns to their AWA if they observe violations.
Coaches are not allowed to:
- Communication: Text message, tweet, email, telephone, or otherwise socially engage individual athletes. Text and email messages related to official club business such as changes in practice and competition times or locations, or travel plans, etc. are permitted but must go to all athletes and be copied or go through parents.)
- Bodily Contact: Have any physical bodily contact with athletes outside of the practice or contest environment or within the practice or contest environment except under the following specific conditions: (1) when the coach asks for permission first to touch an athlete for the purpose of correcting physical form or placing a body part in a correct mechanical position; (2) giving a congratulatory “high five” or pat on the head or back to congratulate an athlete for a good performance; or (3) “spotting” or any protective coaching intended to reduce the risk of practicing or performing a skill that may cause harm with such “spotting” techniques explained to athletes beforehand. In general, if anyone touches an athlete, they should ask the athlete’s permission before doing so.
- Intimate Relationship: Have a sexual, intimate, romantic or similar close personal relationship with individuals over which a person has an instructional or service responsibility, even if a consensual relationship between adults. Our coaches are even prohibited from having such relationships for two years following a coaching relationship. A coach who engages in such activity even following this two-year period still bears the burden of demonstrating there has been no exploitation of the coach-athlete relationship if faced with allegations of impropriety. This prohibition and obligation to demonstrate no exploitation is consistent with the United States Olympic Committee Coaching Ethics Code.
- Contact: Perform back rubs or massage on an athlete even if the coach is a licensed allied health professional (must be performed by a non-coach who is a licensed allied health professional hired for this specific purpose and approved by the Club.)
- Kiss an athlete.
- Touch an athlete for instructional/mechanical instructional corrections without prior consent.
- Other Actions:
- Comment on athletes’ or employees’ bodies or appearance in a sexual manner.
- Comment on bodily changes and attire of the athlete that is unrelated to the athlete's athletic performance.
- Exchange or give gifts.
- Engage in romantic communications with athletes.
- Show athletes obscene or suggestive photo.
- Videotape or photograph athletes in revealing or suggestive poses.
- Discuss with athletes or write about sexual topics and share such with athletes.
- Make sexual jokes, sexual gestures, and innuendos or engaging in inappropriate sexually oriented banter.
- Ask about an athlete’s dating behavior.
- Share sexual exploits or marital difficulties.
- Intentionally invade the athlete's privacy outside of regularly scheduled practice and competition.
- Use email, text-messaging, instant messaging, or other social media to discuss sexual topics with athletes.
- Travel alone with an athlete. Parents and athletes should never ask a coach to drive a Club participant home or to any other site after an event. If emergency transportation needs to be arranged, another parent should be contacted. This policy does not prohibit a coach from participating as a driver in normal club group transportation arrangements to and from practice and competition sites.
- Be alone with an athlete in any facility (locker room, storage room, etc.)
- Accept social invitations from parents. Parents should avoid inviting coaches to dinners, family gatherings or non-team social events. As much as we like and appreciate our coaches, special treatment and benefits could be perceived by others as buying special treatment for Club participants. However, it is appropriate for coaches to be invited to attend events when the entire team is invited (i.e., weddings, etc.).