Fighting Spirit offers presentations and education modules for parents, coaches and youth group leaders to help define and understand the coach-player, teacher-student relationship in a positive manner. The modules help explain how these relationships can often cultivate inappropriate behavior and at times, abuse. The education modules also provide options for recognition, intervention and coping for those that suspect or know of such abuse. Contact Fighting Spirit to learn more about these workshops.
Abuse by authority figures in youth sport and group activities.
“If you don’t want to believe it, you won’t see it.”
Perpetrators of sexual abuse can range from doctors and therapists, volunteer organizations, coaches, camp counselors to church youth group leaders and teachers.
- The risk of sexual abuse is greater when there are loose guidelines, unstructured and unsupervised practice times and high athlete vulnerability, especially in relation to age and maturation.
- Research identifies risk situations as the locker-room, the playing field, trips away, the coach’s home or car, and social events, especially where alcohol is involved. Team initiations or end-of-season celebrations are also risk factors.
- Passive attitudes, non-intervention, denial, and/or silence by people in positions of power in sports culture increases the psychological harm of sexual abuse for the athlete.
- Lack of bystander action also creates the impression for victims that sexual abuse is legal and socially acceptable – and that those involved in the sporting world will be powerless to speak out against it.
The Fallout of Abuse
Research demonstrates that sexual abuse in sports results in significant depression,psychosomatic illnesses, substance abuse, self harm, and suicide.
- When children find it hard to understand betrayal by someone who should be trusted,the child will blame himself. This blaming of the self significantly crushes well-being and any hope for healing from sexual assault.
- Sexually Abused athletes are re-victimized if they are rejected or disbelieved by their sports organization, community and society.
- The depression, isolation and self-destructiveness an athlete experiences will also have an adverse effect on his or her family.
- Children who make direct statements, indirect statements or display highly sexualized behavior are signaling their trauma. However, there are many who cannot, and descend into the depths of despair.
- If the process of healing does not take place, sexual trauma can last a lifetime. Outside of abuse of children by authority figures, responsible adults should also be aware that peer violence: bullying, hazing and dating violence is prevalent among youth group activities.