A Virginia soccer coach arrested and charged with inappropriately touching an 11 year old player provides yet another clear example of patterns common in the grooming and pursuit of young victims by adult authority figures. (Full Story Here). The suspect was a coach at an indoor soccer facility and also had worked as a part time school coach and for a club team. He was arrested after the victim’s mother discovered lewd text messages on her son’s phone from the coach. Further, the abuse was alleged to have occurred when the coach gave the player a ride to watch a soccer game outside of the organization.
Posts Tagged ‘arrest’
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).
A Port St. Lucie select coach and club officer was arrested following allegations that, over the course of a year, he molested a 15 year old player on a team he coached. (Full Story Here). Although the coach passed as many as ten background checks during his time with the club, other signs of potential issues apparently went unheeded. The coach in question did not fit any stereotypical profile. He was married with children of his own who played in the club. Nonetheless, other reports indicate that the coach provided the victim with transportation and gifts. The player described the coach as a “second father”. The coach was also alleged to have held parties for players at his house where alcohol was served. Some of the alleged criminal conduct was alleged to have occurred at one of these parties.
Sound child protection policies train volunteers to identify signs such as favoriting, gift giving and extra-organizational socializing. They also seek to create policies that prevent coaches from having isolated contact with players. Isolated contact is particularly common in transportation and in home settings. Coaches should not shudder at policies that restrict outside contact with their players. By preventing isolated contact, players are protected from abuse, while coaches are protected from false allegations. The child protection policies are also volunteer protection tools. The use of criminal background checks, which discover only prosecuted behavior, should never prevent a club from creating and following proactive risk management policies.
State and national governing bodies may be interested in our presentation “Beyond Background Checks.” The information available in criminal background checking is so limited, that its use, to the exclusion of other methods, can actually place participants at greater risk. The “Beyond Background Checks” program, which can be presented in 60-90 minutes at an annual meeting or workshop, educates club and association directors and administrators about evolving standards relating to the duty of care a youth sports association owes to its youth participants. The program focuses on volunteer and staff screening and management, but also introduces the concept of Comprehensive Risk Management.
The bulk of the program is dedicated to concrete suggestions in the screening and management of volunteers and paid staff. The presentation covers both policy development and screening methods. The volunteer management portion of the program discusses both internal club policy making and external communication of policies to the club membership.
Finally, the program concludes with a discussion of comprehensive risk management. Comprehensive risk management attempts to instill a culture of proactive risk management within the leadership of the club. Within the youth sports community, risk management has historically been a reactive measure, driven by the most visible and recent perceived threats to a club. Comprehensive risk management is an objective and thorough planning process leading to a formal risk management plan for a club. The program also discusses structural impediments to executing risk management plans.
Clubs and local associations, of course, can always enact risk management programs that exceed the state minimum requirements. Indeed, where the requirements are minimal, local risk management planning is vital. Let us help you get started with a review of your child protection and volunteer management policies!