In the midst of the challenges of running your programs and preparing for the next season, it is easy to let risk management planning slip by the way side. Every week, coaches from settings varying from university to youth athletics are accused of improper behavior. Often, it is difficult to imagine how such behavior went unchecked and unmonitored. The answer is simple: often we don’t address the problem until it’s too late.
In Pennsylvania, a local school board recently adopted an adult-student interaction policy. Consisting of five pages of detailed instructions, it “restricts electronic communications with students to the school’s systems and outlines what is inappropriate to discuss with students and where and how interactions take place. It even bans knowingly engaging in online gaming with students.” (Full story here). But the policy didn’t come out of a considered and proactive approach to risk management. It followed the arrest of a coach for “institutional sexual assault and corrupting a minor” — a sixteen year old female student. Despite the fact that electronic communications are a primary grooming method used by abusers, the school had no policies in place to address the interaction between its staff and students.
However, some organizations do act proactively. In Tennessee, an arrested youth football coach is demanding reinstatement after the league suspended him following his arrest. The coach was charged with a road rage incident and threatening a 16 year old driver with a knife. In addition, burned marijuana cigarettes were found in the car. At the time of his arrest, a closed knife was found on the dashboard. Incredibly, parents from the team he coaches started a petition to have him reinstated. (Full story here). Although the coach is certainly entitled to a presumption of innocence on the criminal charges, a youth sports organization is entitled to act to protect its participants pending the outcome of the trial, and would even be justified in denying future participation if it so decided. This type of proactive, kids first attitude is to be commended.
At Placek Consulting, we work with youth sports associations to address issues before they become problems. We give you the tools to manage your volunteers and staff in an atmosphere that conveys professionalism and respect while still focusing on child protection. Find out how we can help you. Call Scott Placek at 512-487-RISK (7475).