Safe4Athletes

Monday, 13 August 2012 10:15

$60 Million Later and We're Still Vulnerable

Written by

By Katherine Starr

penn_state_blog_pic

The NCAA levied a $60 million sanction against Penn State University after reviewing the outcome of the Freeh report which identified the failures of the institution to protect the victims and putting the institution’s needs above the law.   Penn State was obligated to comply with child welfare laws and Title IX; it failed.  Laws were in place.  In the case of Title IX, the institution had required policies and procedures in place.  The institution did all of the things it was supposed to do on paper and ultimately, but ultimately this was no more than “lip service” to its legal and ethical obligations.  The lesson to be learned from Penn State is a pretty simple one.  The organization reflects the values and ethics of its leadership.  When a law like Title IX gets passed, whether it is the sexual harassment provisions of the law or its athletics participation requirements, if the institution does not embraces its purpose, educate its staff and make certain that all employees clearly understand their obligations – then Sandusky happens.  No one in the formal leadership – presidents and senior administrators – or in the informal power club – Paterno, made it clear that compliance with the law was an expected zero tolerance obligation.  

American wins gold medal but her most important victory came when she gave evidence against coach who abused her

As Kayla Harrison strived for a judo gold medal yesterday – the first in America's history – it was one of those occasions which remind you that sometimes the margin between victory and defeat is so fine that in a vital way it ceases to exist.

Certainly, you could make such an assessment of the Olympic fate of the 22-year-old who a few years ago was found sobbing uncontrollably in the corridor of a US courthouse.

It was on the day she gave the evidence that sent her coach from childhood down for 10 years for sexual abuse.

Not surprisingly for many – and maybe not least Harrison, who is ranked world No 2 in her 78kg category – yesterday was as much an exorcism as a last push for glory.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 00:00

The Truth about Coach-Athlete Relationships

Written by

By Katherine Starr – President & Founder Safe4Athletes

Since the Sandusky case we have jumped on the bandwagon in sports and addressed child sexual abuse in sports. We show videos of adolescent aged girls and boys being targeted and abused. Without a doubt, we react emotionally and with revulsion to something so horrific as the taking the innocence of a young child.

Yet, that isn’t the whole truth when discussing coach-athlete sexual abuse. If you look at the list of banned swim coaches on the USA Swimming website, there isn’t one coached banned for a sexual abuse who was accused of having a relationship with a swimmer under the age of 13. 

We wouldn’t know that based on the education videos that we are forced to watch in order to be certified in some capacity in sports.  These videos only depict young children being cultivated by acquaintance pedophiles.

Why aren’t we seeing videos of an 17-yr-old voicing how a close relationship with his or her coach went from athlete affection as a reward for their hard work on the practice field  to molestation or,  from the psyche and perspective of the artfully manipulated athlete, “a loving relationship.”  This scenario just doesn’t pull at our heartstrings in the same way.  Why aren’t we seeing a video of a 25-year-old, who we assume is a consenting adult, talking about such a relationship?  We react with even less sympathy in this case, if any at all.

If we truly want to address sexual abuse and harassment in sports we need to call it what it is, an abuse of power between the coach and the athlete that occurs at all ages.  We are misled if educational materials imply something else. 

If we look at the minimum age requirements to compete in the Olympics by sport, one would find that age requirements correlate to the vulnerability of athlete sexual abuse.   The lower end sports that begin to peak around 13/14 like gymnastics, swimming and taekwondo is also the age where the “coach-athlete relationship” begins and coaches start to get banned for their inappropriate relationships with their athletes.

When you look at some of the old minimum-age sports like Team Handball, Cycling and Weightlifting that have age requirements of 17-or 18-years-old, we hear less about these cases, as it is presumed that there was consent with the coach at that point.

If you look at the website of listed organizations with a list of banned coaches, they are the ones with the younger age limits to compete at the international level.

By Tom Archdeacon

WAKEFIELD, Mass. — Too often, an Olympic dream for glory brings instead sexual abuse.

In the case of Middletown’s Kayla Harrison, the No. 2 judo athlete in the world in her 78-kilo (172-pound) weight class, it will have brought both should she win gold — as she’s favored to do — at the London Olympic Games.

Now 22 and living and training in Wakefield, Mass., Harrison was sexually abused from the time she was 13 to 16 by Daniel Doyle, her Centerville judo coach. Doyle is now serving a 10-year sentence in a federal prison.

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