Coaching youth sports is challenging. Aside from teaching your charges about skills and competition, you are under the increasingly watchful eye of parents who are keen to protect their children. Rightly so. As a coach, you are entrusted to care for, protect and educate these kids, many of whom are dropped off at practice or games and left in your presence. But do you know what is considered an appropriate touch? Take this quiz to find out.
Is it OK to:
- Pat children on the shoulder or top of the head
- Use high-fives
- Pat children on the butt
- Use side hugs
- Use full frontal hugs
- Touch children in any way without another adult present or in full view of others
If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these, you’re wrong. Darkness to Light, one of the leading national organizations that works to prevent child sexual abuse, says it’s NEVER appropriate to pat children on the butt, use full frontal hugs or touch them without another grown-up present or in full view of others. This can be difficult as plenty of sports coaching requires some personal instruction, supporting, spotting and safety, but it’s imperative coaches follow these guidelines to protect their players and themselves from any perceived negative behavior.
Beyond Background Checks
Youth sports organizations have a critical role in protecting young athletes. A comprehensive coaching program that incorporates thorough background checks AND a child safety training course is the best way to accomplish this task. While a background check is the ideal first-line defense against deterring predators from being near children, enforcing a code of behavior and ensuring every coach has undergone a child safety training course is the best back-end defense.
This trifecta not only shows your organization’s commitment to protecting children, it also sends a confident message to the community and parents that you take caring for other people’s children seriously and you will make every effort to keep them out of harm’s way.
Beyond the Statistics
Protecting our children is everyone’s concern. The statistics are horrifying and frightening:
- 1 out of 5 girls is sexually abused before they turn 12, and 1 of 4 before 18
- 1 out of 8 boys is sexually abused before they turn 12, and 1 of 6 before 18.
And even worse, many reports indicate that precisely because sexual predators target trusting environments where children are present, the incidence of child abuse is actually higher in the youth sports community. Statistics do not begin to describe the devastating consequences of child abuse.
Child Safety Training is a comprehensive program that helps coaches and volunteers:
- become aware of the basic characteristics of a sexual abuser
- understand the process by which an abuse picks and prepares a child for abuse
- learn indicators of child sexual abuse
Beyond the Basics
Protect Youth Sports has pioneered an online Child Safety Training course that is a critical component to any screening program. In fact, the complete 90-minute scenario-based learning course, which includes testing and online certification of completion, is included with each background check purchased for coaches, staff members and volunteers. The online course can be accessed online from anywhere at anytime, putting convenience at the fingertips of your youth sports organization members.
Here is an example of what one of the training scenarios looks like:
An online training course is the most flexible solution you can offer your employees, staffers and volunteers, and is the most cost-effective and time-effective program to choose if you have a large number of people to train.
Protect Youth Sports is committed to working with you to help you implement the most comprehensive screening solution to your youth sports organization. We’d love to talk with you about how we can help you better protect the children you serve. Give one of our experts a call today at 1-800-319-5587.