Sports are a great way to keep a healthy lifestyle, meet new friends, keep the youth off the streets and their gadgets.
Many of us think that sports are a safe place for the youth, little do we know that the people who engage in sports may be at risk of coach sexual assault.
According to a recent investigation, a coach sexual assault can happen in any sport. Hundreds of coaches from 34 different sports have been convicted in the last 20 years.
We may not be completely aware, but sexual assault in sports is a prevalent issue in Canada.
Since most people who join sports are the youth, they are easily influenced by their coach and can lead to abuse of power and coach sexual abuse.
f you or someone you know is at risk of coach sexual abuse, immediately reach out to a sexual assault lawyer. Let’s stop the perpetrators and restore safety in sports.
Understanding Sexual Abuse in Sports
Girls and boys alike could be victims of sexual assault. Sadly, coach sexual abuse and other forms of coach sexual assault usually happen in gymnasiums, open fields, locker rooms, training sessions, and even in the homes of some coaches.
These young boys and girls look up to their coaches as role models. They tend to follow or allow whatever the coach’s advances are, not knowing they’re already abused.
What they don’t know is the amount of trust they put in their coaches unknowingly makes them prey.
Brackenridge (2001) says that the relationship of trust is almost inevitable between a young athlete and a coach. Over time, as the level of trust increases, boundaries are also unknowingly crossed.
In many cases, the trust is misused by coaches and persuades the young athletes into doing sexual activities with them. The abuser will find a way to lure the prey into the act and keep it a secret between them both.
According to an analysis, people who have been found to sexually abuse young people had specific characteristics. Brackenridge et al. (2008) mentioned that the offenders’ ages ranged between 16-63 years old and that 98% of the abusers were teachers and coaches.
29% were married, and 31% had children and were primarily mainly male.
Minors and young adults (2%-8%) mainly comprise the victims of coach sexual assault. Most of these cases happened when a sport was played or when they were in the process of training and while doing different kinds of activities related to the sport.
It was said that elite athletes were likely to be victims of coach sexual abuse but had no clear indication that it was specific to a particular sport.
More notably, however, data shows that girls are more likely to be victims of coach sexual assault than boys.
While a few young boys have been sexually abused, the number of girls who were sexually assaulted is more significant in number. One of the probable reasons is that boys don’t report these incidents as much as girls do.
Risk Factors in Coach Sexual Abuse
Everyone, most especially young athletes, are vulnerable to sexual abuse in Canada.
Studies suggest that specific characteristics, traits, or behavior may be identified but do not automatically equate to being sexually abused.
However, upon researching the young athletes who have experienced coach sexual abuse, these are the five most consistent environments.
- People involved in sports
- Coach-athlete relationship
- Young athletes
- Sports institutions and organizations
- The culture of sport
Do you know someone who may have been a victim of sexual abuse in Canada? Reach out to us today.
Consequences and Prevention of Sexual Assault by Coaches
Like most sexual abuse cases, the effect on the victims is usually divided into two categories.
- Psychological Consequences: Social embarrassment, difficulty in establishing social ties, difficulty trusting other people, being distant from family and friends, substance use and abuse, lowered self-esteem, and questioning one’s decision-making.
- Physical Consequences; Sleep disorder, eating disorder, and in many cases, their performance in sports is also affected. They may also leave their current mark to pursue a new one, completely stop their sport or lose commitment and interest.
Stricter implementation of penalties and a deeper focus should be in place for preventive measures to avoid the rising cases of sexual assault in Canada.
Some of the things that could make things better are as follows:
- Stringent implementation in sports organizations such as having more knowledgeable sports administrators through intensive training, and more visible and flexible support
- More stringent and rigorous background checks, behaviour management rules; and
- Disciplinary measures must be implemented upon infractions, steady and trustworthy resources for the victims, known and reasonable complaints procedures.
It is also essential for school administrators to have zero tolerance for coach sexual assault. The behaviour should be outright unacceptable and shall be turned over to the authorities when an issue arises.
Parents and guardians can help prevent a coach sexual assault from happening to their children. Thorough research must be done before allowing their child to join any sports clubs/organizations.
Helpline for Sport Safety
Victims of coach sexual assault may not directly open about their experience if you know someone who may be a victim or at risk of sexual abuse in Canada, reach out to any of these organizations and seek help.
Let’s help each other in making our country safe from these perpetrators.
Reach out to a sexual assault lawyer in Canada and let justice be served.
- Canadian Centre for Child Protection
- Canadian Sport Helpline
- Kids Help Phone
- Commit to Kids: Reporting Child Sexual Abuse and Misconduct
- Need Help Now
Seek the Assistance of a Sexual Assault Lawyer
Not all coaches are sexual offenders. However, everyone, most especially the younger people, is prone and vulnerable to sexual assault in Canada.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, please reach out to a sexual assault lawyer.
Do not be afraid of telling us about your case. We will help you and make sure you are safe and protected.