Recently, the Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, announced a strong push designed to eliminate harassment and abuse in the Canadian sport system. The statement made federal funding for sport organizations dependent on the creation of a formal policy addressing harassment and abuse within the organization.
In addition, the statement called for:
- All federally funded sport organizations to take measures to create a workplace free from harassment, abuse or discrimination of any kind.
- Immediate disclosure of any incident of harassment, abuse or discrimination to the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.
- Making provisions for access to an independent third party to address harassment and abuse cases.
- Providing mandatory training on harassment and abuse to all organization members by April 1, 2020.
Although provincial Ministers of Sport met to support the initiative, more can be done to effect real change for athletes. If your organization is concerned about making progress toward creating a safe environment for Canadian athletes, you will want to consider this 5-step checklist:
- Develop awareness training for coaches and parents. Not only is this the cornerstone of the initiative, but it’s a good idea for everyone. Educate coaches and parents to recognize the red flags of abuse. Learning the warning signs will both improve the identification of abuse and aid in prevention efforts. Require training for all staff, coaches and parents at least annually.
- Mandate awareness training for minors, with parental consent. The amateur athlete also needs to be educated on the organization’s policies and procedures when it comes to abuse. Provide an easy way for kids to report abuse, and offer training at the beginning of each new sport season.
- Establish a reporting system. It’s best if incidences of child abuse can be easily reported. Consider contracting with an electronic abuse reporting system or creating an internal system that can be tested and implemented effectively.
- Run background checks. While it seems obvious, not every youth sport organization is doing background checks. Many organizations rely on volunteers who may not be screened. Make sure that all adults working with children under your organization’s umbrella have been screened. There are a number of online, local and national businesses that provide these services without a significant expense.
- Publish policies/procedures. Distribute all policies and procedures to staff, administrators and volunteer coaches. Post them inside your practice facilities and arenas for all to see.
Contact your HUB Entertainment and Sports Specialist for more information on prioritizing actions to eliminate harassment, abuse and discrimination in your sport organization and meeting the appropriate duty of care for your athletes and their families.