"Athletes are sensitive human
beings with lives beyond sport;
they are not simply a commodity."

The Coaches' Report

What Other Sports Have Done About Sexual Abuse



Hockey

In the wake of the Sheldon Kennedy/Graham James abuse case, the Canadian Hockey Association in 1998 passed a recommendation from its coaching committee that all 75,000 of its coaches be required to attend a three-hour abuse and harrassment training session in the following two years. A "Speak Out!" campaign was also planned to coordinate seminars designed to encourage players to tell of their own experiences or those of others, in terms of physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse. (Toronto Star, 5/20/98)

USA Hockey has a Sexual Abuse Policy.


Gymnastics

From the USA Gymnastics Code of Ethics:

Sexual Misconduct

Professional Members of USA Gymnastics must protect the integrity of the sport and the interests of the athletes they serve by avoiding sexual relationships with athletes except where the capacity and quality of the athlete's consent to enter that relationship is beyond question. It is inconsistent with this obligation for any member to:

1. Solicit or engage in sexual relations with any minor.

2. Engage in any behavior that utilizes the influence of a professional member's position as coach, judge or administrator to encourage sexual relations with an athlete.

3. Engage in sexual harassment by making unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

Messages from the president of USA Gymnastics about the nature of sexual abuse in sports and about USA Gymnastics' current practices and policies relating to sexual abuse are also available online.

Gymnastics B.C. (British Columbia) has instituted a harassment policy and has harassment advisers in all 70 of its clubs.


Swimming

Following the conviction of Olympic swimming coach Paul Hickson on multiple charges of child molestation in 1995, Britain's Amateur Swimming Association established a set of guidelines on how swimming coaches should conduct themselves with young club members, established a set of child protection procedures, and set up a child protection database with details of all individuals with access to young swimmers. Almost 90 percent of the Amateur Swimming Association's club members are under the age of 16. In 1998, the ASA launched a 24-hour hotline, Swimline, to help young victims of abuse, as well as to disseminate information to parents, coaches and swimming club members. The hotline was launched in conjunction with the (U.K.) National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Following the January 1998 conviction of national swimming coach Derry O'Rourke on a number of sex abuse offenses against 11 young female swimmers between 1976 and 1992, the Irish government suspended funding for the Irish Amateur Swimming Association (IASA) and announced an inquiry into its handling of allegations against O'Rourke and another coach. A parents' group, dissatisfied with the government inquiry, launched their own private investigation. The government inquiry, according to the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, "showed a total systems failure within IASA. There were no standards for behavior at all." The independent investigator for the parents group concluded, "In a sport dominated by standard times, there were inadequate standards for behaviour. No one seemed to question the merits of imposing objectives which set high standards for children in competition, without having regard to their overall development... Where the joy of the swimmer is replaced by the gratification of an adult, it ceases to be a sport." The IASA resisted calls for it to disband. The parents group rejected IASA officials' offer to resign en masse, and negotiations began on the organization's restructuring. Said IASA president Mary O'Malley, "We are putting forward a very, very strong child-orientated programme. We hope that everything would be a lot fairer in the future and we would hope to gain the confidence of the public at large." Despite these promises, the 100-year-old IASA was dissolved in January 1999, and replaced by a new organization, Swim Ireland. (Irish Times)


Tennis

Amid widespread allegations in the spring of 1998 that an ex-Wimbledon champion had been sexually abused by her coach from the age of 11, the Women's Tennis Association (U.K.) launched an investigation. Said the London Independent, "Since then the WTA has refused to reveal anything about its findings and declines to explain why it hasn't turned the matter over to better equipped authorities - such as the police or therapists who have treated players traumatised by abuse on the tour. At the very least, it seems reasonable for the WTA to pass a code of conduct for coaches stipulating that unmarried girls shouldn't share hotel rooms with male coaches." In early 1999, the WTA published a code of ethics which stipulates that coaches should not make any sexual advance to girls under 17. (London Independent, 7/27/98; London Guardian, 1/31/99)

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