Keeping Kids Safe
Sport Manitoba believes in being proactive in ensuring sport in our province is safe and enjoyable so that all our participants remain active for life.
Coaches and parents/guardians need to work together to help keep our kids safe and parents play a critical role in protecting children. Understanding child sexual abuse and implementing strategies to prevent it can help you build safe environments for your child and other children in the community. Here are some suggestions on how to do just that:
1. Respect in Sport Certified
In 2006, Sport Manitoba launched a program called Respect in Sport (Sheldon Kennedy helped develop it). Respect in Sport – Activity Leaders helps us keep kids safe through a simple and convenient online training course for coaches and sport leaders. It is designed as a tool to assist coaches in identifying and dealing with abuse, neglect, harassment, and bullying in sport. As a parent, ask if your coach has their Respect in Sport certificate. As a coach, encourage the adults around you to take this simple online course.
2. Coach Training
Canada has a National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) that offers a course called Make Ethical Decisions (MED). This course helps coaches identify the legal, ethical, and moral implications of difficult situations that present themselves in the world of team and individual sport. NCCP also has a Commit to Kids for Coaches online training that addresses the importance of understanding boundaries, sexual misconduct, and reporting of inappropriate behaviour. As a parent, ask if your coach has taken Making Ethical Decisions or Commit to Kids.
3. Screening Process
Parents and coaches should look to get involved with organizations or activities that have screening policies. Good screening processes can include volunteer interviews, reference checks, criminal record checks, and child abuse registry checks. If your organization/activity doesn't have a screening process, Sport Manitoba can help. Contact the Paul Robson Resource Centre for Leadership and Coaching at 204-925-5692.
4. Rule of Two
The Rule of Two serves to protect minor athletes in potentially vulnerable situations by ensuring that more than one adult is present. Vulnerable situations can include closed doors meetings, travel, and training environments. As a parent, try to avoid situations that place your child alone with a coach or volunteer, particularly behind closed doors. As a coach, you need to ensure there is at least one other person, preferably another adult, with you and your athlete. Leave the door open or meet in public areas. The same rule applies to online communication. Parents can ask to be copied on email or text message communication and coaches do not need to talk to their athletes in chat rooms or via social media direct messaging.
5. Trust Your Gut
Listen when your instinct softly whispers that something might not be right. Don't ignore it. In fact, turn the volume up and tune in. Ask questions. And most importantly, get help (see #6).
6. Sport Support Line - 1-877-737-9875
As a coach or a parent, you might encounter a situation in sport centering around bullying or harassment that you are uncertain about how to address. Talk to someone who can help. For support, consultation, referral or resources please call toll free 1-877-737-9875. For any suspected incidents of abuse, harassment, bullying and hazing call this number immediately. A trained staff person will be available to assist with questions or concerns.