‘Any sexual attention’ from coaches is not OK, says expert

Callie Lane
Story by Callie Lane and CBC Kids News • 2019-02-21 16:15

Over the past 20 years, hundreds of young athletes have been victims of sexual offences

UPDATE: This story was originally published on Feb. 12. 

On Feb. 21, the government of Canada announced some changes to address the issue of abuse in sports.

The government promised to spend $209,000 to organize workshops to connect people in the community who are involved in sports at all levels.

The goal is to develop a national code of conduct.

Kids who play sports in Canada should be aware that young athletes are sometimes victims of sexual offences in amateur sports.

“Any sexual attention at all from an adult is not OK,” said Noni Classen, director of education at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

That can be sexual touching, which is touching someone in places like their chest or below their waist.

A woman and a teen sit at a table talking

Noni Classen speaks to CBC Kids News contributor Callie Lane in Winnipeg. (CBC)

In the past 20 years, more than 200 coaches were convicted in cases involving more than 600 victims.

Convicted offenders in cases like these usually go to jail.

Hockey and soccer, which are the two most popular sports in Canada, were the sports with the most victims.

Kids encouraged to talk about it with a ‘safe adult’

There have been a few cases involving a gymnastics coach in the news recently, both in Canada and the U.S.

Addison Bechard, 12, is a gymnast from Calgary.

She feels safe at her gym and isn’t worried about the coaches she trains with, but she is aware that uncomfortable things can happen.

“It you’re travelling to other gyms, you always have to be careful and keep your wits about you,” Bechard said.

A teen sits on a couch in her home, smiling.

Addison Bechard says she feels 'horrible' that her sport, gymnastics, was looked at in a negative way. (CBC)

Classen said it’s important for kids to “trust their gut” if they think they’ve been the victim of sexual assault. And that means telling someone you trust.

“Even though it’s scary and it can make kids worried to say something ... safe adults are more concerned with kids being safe than anything else,” she told CBC Kids News.

She said kids and parents should be having conversations about sexual assault, so that kids are aware of what they should be looking out for and how to get help.

Have you been in a situation where you felt uncomfortable?

If the answer is yes, talk to an adult you trust.

You can also call the Kids Help Phone anytime, day or night, by phone: 1-800-668-6868.

You can also text them anytime: 686868.

Or chat with someone online.

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About the Contributor

Callie Lane
Callie Lane
CBC Kids News Contributor
Callie Lane lives in Winnipeg, Man. where she stays active in several sports. Callie keeps herself busy playing volleyball and hockey in the cold winter months. In the summer she enjoys the outdoors and playing softball. On her downtime the 13-year-old is involved with local film, print and tv commercials. This energetic teenager has a knack for being creative. Callie is excited to be part of the CBC Kids News team. She believes providing local news stories to her community is key to staying informed.

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