Strengthening the pathway to protect young athletes from abuse – SteinbachOnline.com
The Manitoba government is investing $250,000 to develop expanded training requirements for coaches and staff working within the school system.
On June 28, Minister for Sport, Culture and Heritage, Andrew Smith, and Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, Wayne Ewasko, sent a statement stating that coaching education will be improved and strengthened.
“Our government recognizes that abused athletes, and their families and friends, experience significant emotional, psychological and physical health impacts,” Smith said. “We are committed to building on existing safe sport resources, policies and practices to further improve the safety of Manitoba athletes.”
A Pathway to Safer Sports is the development of additional resources and initiatives from provincial sport organizations and the education system to limit or prevent mistreatment, abuse and harassment of youth in Manitoba sport.
The release says Sport Manitoba will consult with northern and rural communities to provide them with tools and resources tailored to their needs. In addition to purchasing a subscription to the Sports Culture Index, which is an “innovative online tool that will help leaders measure and monitor the well-being and effectiveness of their organization’s culture.”
“Thank you to the Government of Manitoba for its commitment to prevent, address and act on all forms of misconduct or abuse in sport,” said Janet McMahon, President and CEO of Sport Manitoba. “With this vital financial support, we can create positive change in the sport culture of our province. Thank you also to Sport Law and our partners in sport who work together to protect our children and our community.
Manitoba Early Learning and Education is continuing this initiative by requiring education system coaches and school staff to complete an online Respect Sport training course. Online training has been mandatory for all coaches outside the school system since 2007.
“More than 15 years ago, Sport Manitoba was the first organization in Canada to make the Respect in Sport program mandatory for community coaches,” said Sheldon Kennedy, co-founder of Respect Group. “I applaud the Manitoba government for its proactive approach to further expand child protection education for all school coaches and school staff in the province. We know that those who interact with students every day are trusted adults in a child’s/student’s life and they need the tools to know how to listen and step in when needed.”
Some, if not all, provincial sports programs require coaches to undergo a criminal record check.
“We require all of our coaches, head coaches, assistant coaches, those who run clubs to be screened. So you have to have a full criminal record check and you have to have a child abuse registry check. We do have all of that in place and there are certain elements in the NCCP National Coaching Certification Program training that also address these types of ethical training, such as making ethical decisions,” said the executive director of Volleyball Manitoba, John Blacher, when asked how the volleyball program will make adjustments to its coaching education.
Blacher also notes that next steps include educating the public about the resources available to them and what constitutes abuse and harassment in a sports setting.
“Athletes and parents see what’s going on much more than provincial sport organizations. How do we empower those people to speak up or make a phone call if they see something inappropriate happening or something something that could be a bit concerning in terms of behavior “It could involve bullying, it could involve hazing, and it could involve an inappropriate action that they believe the coach is doing. It’s not just about coaches, but there are many different elements of mistreatment and abuse in sport. “