Safe Sports

Players from Gotham FC and the Washington Spirit hold a moment of solidarity after the scandal that saw Spirit coach Richie Burke fired over allegations of verbal harassment and North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley fired over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Canada & Ontario have challenges too

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Bob Birarda, former coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Canadian National Women Team will appear in B.C. provincial court on nine sex-related charges.

The case is gaining additional attention from outside of Canada as women's soccer globally comes under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Abuse scandals are unfolding around the world discovering the other side of sports, raising questions on how safe sports really are, and what are we doing to stop it.

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Kids are also victims

Sexual abusers often abuse many children over a number of years before they are caught or reported; and many have no record of negative involvement with the police.


A British Columbia study revealed that in 80 per cent of the occurrences of sexual abuse studied, the offender occupied a position of trust.

Making it SAFER

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This Handbook is a guide for Ontario sport organizations, offering tools to help them prevent the sexual abuse of children involved in their activities and to address such problems if and when they arise.

Source: Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Recreation

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Over the past two decades, at least 222 Canadian coaches have been convicted of sexual offenses according to a joint investigation done by CBC News and Sports. These coaches were all involved in a variety of amateur sports throughout Canada, often coaching students under the age of 18. This study reveals that more than 600 Canadian kids have been victims of sexual assaults from their sports coaches over the past 20 years...

600 Canadian Kids Have Been Victim To Sexual Assault By Their Sports Coaches Over The Past 20 Years

The law is clear that the sexual abuse of children, in any form, by anyone, is not acceptable. A sport organization’s legal obligation to protect the children involved in its activities from sexual abuse occurring while a child is in that organization’s care, comes from different legal sources.


The Criminal Code and the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA)* are statutes that make child abuse an offence under the law. The CFSA also makes it an offence for a professional who, in the course of his or her professional or official duties, has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection, and fails to report it to a children’s aid society.


(Under the CFSA, an abused child is “in need of protection.”) Sport organizations also owe a duty of care, imposed by common law, to individuals involved in their programs, to avoid or prevent conduct that presents an unreasonable risk of danger or harm.
 

An organization needs to become familiar with each of these legal regimes in order to understand what the law requires, what legal steps must be taken to deal with issues concerning child sexual abuse, and to be able to educate all of its members—including staff, volunteers, parents, and participants—about the legal rights and obligations that exist to protect children.

Child and Family Services Act Ontario’s CFSA provides for a broad range of services for families and children, including children who are or may be in need of protection. A paramount objective of the Act is to promote the best interests, protection and well being of children.

The Act makes it an offence for a person having charge of a child to physically harm, sexually molest or sexually exploit a child, or permit the child to suffer such harm by failing to care and provide for or supervise or protect the child adequately.


Anyone convicted of child abuse may be fined up to $2,000, or imprisoned for up to two years, or both. A director, officer, or employee of a corporation, including a non-profit corporation, who authorizes, permits, or concurs in the abuse of a child by the corporation, is also liable to the same penalties.


The Duty to Report The CFSA recognizes that each of us has a responsibility for the welfare of children. It states that members of the public, including people who perform professional or official duties with respect to children, have an obligation to report promptly to a children’s aid society if they suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection. The suspicion and the information upon which it is based must be reported.


The duty to report applies not only to harm or the risk of harm (“harm” as set out in the CFSA, section 37) suffered by a child when participating in the sport organization, but also where the harm or risk of harm arises outside the sport organization, e.g., in the child’s home.


For instance, if a coach becomes aware of a pattern of suspicious injuries or bruises on a child’s body and has reasonable grounds to suspect that they were caused by the child’s parent, the coach must make a report to the children’s aid society.