STOP SPORTS’ BULLYING, INTERVENTION FOR CHILD ATHLETES

Hazing, Harassment, Including Sexual Harassment, Any Intimidations are forms of Bullying.

“7 Sayreville, NJ War Memorial High School football players, age 15 to 17, were arrested Friday and have been charged with sex crimes during hazing incident that “went too far”. The district canceled the remainder of football team’s season after the school superintendent said there was evidence of pervasive harassment, intimidation and bullying. Prosecutors alleged that in 4 separate incidents older players turned off a dressing room light and sexually harassed 4 freshman players, penetrating at least one of them. 3 are accused of aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal restraint, and hazing for engaging in an act of sexual penetration. 4 plus 1 of the first 3, face counts of aggravated assault, conspiracy, aggravated criminal sexual contact, hazing and riot for allegedly participating in the attack, Middlesex County prosecutors said. [by Dave Urbanski, Oct. 11, 2014 Parlin, N.J. (TheBlaze/AP)
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“Bullying is aggressive behavior that occurs repeatedly over time in a relationship where there is an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can take many forms, including physical violence, verbal abuse, social manipulation and attacks on property.

“Verbal and emotional abuse is much more common in athletics. It can lead to severe and long-lasting effects on the athlete’s social and emotional development. In a world where “more is better” in terms of training and “no pain means no gain,” there is a great deal of machismo in coaches. Most coaches coach the same way that they were coached while playing the sport growing up. This means that many coaches are still operating as if the training methods used in the Soviet Union in the 1970s are state of the art.

“Central to this old school mindset is the idea that threat, intimidation, fear, guilt, shame, and name-calling are all viable ways to push athletes to excel.

“Verbal and Emotional Abuse involves a coach telling an athlete or making him or her feel that he or she is worthless, despised, inadequate, or valued only as a result of his or her athletic performance. Such messages are not conveyed merely with the spoken word. They are conveyed by tone of voice, body language, facial expression and withdrawal of physical or emotional support.

“if the athlete feels shamed, frightened, or anxious around the coach due to his or her constant shouting, name-calling or threatening, then the label “emotional abuse” is warranted.

Verbal and Emotional Abuse require a diagnosis from a Mental Health Professional. [mbmsrmd]

“The old school of thought was along the lines of the nursery school rhyme “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The old school of thought was that a little yelling at players will “toughen them up and prepare them for real life.” Fortunately, we now know better.

“Dr. Stephen Joseph at University of Warwick (2003) found that “verbal abuse can have more impact upon victims’ self-worth than physical attacks, such as punching…stealing or the destruction of belongings.” Rather than helping them to “toughen up a child, verbal attacks” cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 33% of children.

“Jaana Juvonen, Ph.D. UCLA (2005) study demonstrated that there is no such thing as “harmless name-calling.” 6th grade victims felt humiliated, anxious, angry and disliked school more. The major lesson here is that the more a child is bullied, or observes bullying, in a particular environment, the more they dislike being in that environment. So any bullying done by coaches will virtually guarantee a victim’s hasty exit from the sport.

“JoLynn Carney (2007) Penn State study found that bullied children displayed physical changes. The cortisol, the stress hormone, was elevated in the saliva both of children who had been bullied recently and in those children who were anticipating being bullied. Cortisol spikes interfears with ability to think clearly, learn and remember. So Coaches who rely on fear and intimidation ensure their athletes won’t recall any of what they said while they are ranting and raving. Other related consequences are chronic fatigue syndrome, greater chance of injury, chronic pelvic pain, trauma and anxiety and indirectly linked to depression and PTSD.

So what can a Parent and / or an Athlete Do about a Coach Bully?

1. Have the Athlete evaluated by a Mental Health Professional, if the Athlete manifests signs and symptoms of possible mental illness injury.

2. And / or seek another team where children are treated with respect and dignity.

[Schinnerer, J. (2009). The Consequences of Verbally Abusive Athletic Coaches. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-consequences-of-verbally-abusive-athletic-coaches/0001152]
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(Confronting the Challenge of the Bully, Coercive, Abusive, Loud Mouth Coach)

Child Athletes must play for the love of the game; not the fear of the Coach.

Coerciveness, Negative Enforcement and Negative Reinforcement are deleterious to Children’s Mentality and Physicality, when participating in Sports, Recreation and Exercise (SRE).

Compared to the Positive Instruction, Encouragement and Positive Reinforcement of the Mentoring Coach, who is an understanding, patient teacher, the Bully Coach creates psychological and physical symptoms and signs among victimized Child Athletes.

Signs and Symptoms in Child Athletes following Coercive, Bully Coaching:

Bad Attitude
Negative Outlook
Cruel Personality
Shamelessness
Harmful Temperament
Depressed Mood
Immoral Behavior
Loss of Spirit
Weakened Mindset
Teenage Dating Abuse
Emotionally and Physically Destructive to Children

The processes and mechanisms for Psychological Coping are called Algorithms.

These Algorithms “maintain how a person learn survival skills and develop their own coping mechanisms as a child following bullying and abuse. How they learned to deal with shame and abuse in their developmental years will influence how they will manage to stand up to an abusive situation at work, or…become abusers themselves.” [ccvii]

“Algorithms emphasize the influence of learned behavior patterns, specifically as combined behaviors in the form of interactions. Once a victim encounters a bully, or a bully identifies a victim, their dysfunctional behavior patterns learned in childhood will resurface as adult survival skills and coping mechanisms.

“Algorithms are patterns stored in our brains. Algorithms are created when we store an idea alongside memories of familiar situations. [ccv]

“We use algorithms everyday – “…where predictable events occur and we need to make a similar response each time”. [ccvi]

“In the bully-victim interaction, algorithms are patterned responses learned and anticipated by the bully and the victim.

“It is this natural reaction, rather than a response, which ensures the bully-victim destructive cycle’s destiny. “We cannot control what comes into our lives. We can control whether we react or respond. Reaction is the emotional reflex. Response requires thought.”[ccviii]

The Psychological remedy for the Adult Child Athlete Bully Victim is an altered Response to their learned childhood behavior. The Altered Response requires thought, thinking, consideration, deliberation and reasoning.

But how do we prevent Coach Bullying and Child Athlete Abuse Victimization in the first place;
before it becomes a problem?

The first best method is to educate the potential Problematic Coach about the 4 R’s of Coaching for the Prevention of Abusive and Cruel Coaching Behaviors. The following procedures are recommended 1.:

• Establish a Bullying and Abuse Prevention Coordinating Committee among volunteers in you Sports, Recreation, Exercise, (SRE) league, club or extracurricular activity with the blessing of the administration and authorities.
• Conduct committee and staff trainings
• Introduce rules against Bullying, Physical, Psychological, Sexual Abuse
• Post and enforce rules against all the above
• Staff members should attend practices and games
• When a Problematic Coach has been identified:
• Call Coach before committee, instruct him/her about 4 R’s of Coaching
• Describe the Positive impact of 4 R’s of Coaching during SRE on Athletes
• Describe the Risk to Coach, Athlete, everyone if not properly achieved

POSITIVE OUTCOMES OF SPORTS PARTICIPATION

The positive benefits of SRE are dependent on the trustworthy, mentor Coach who implements the 4 R’s of Coaching:

RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY, RELATIONSHIP RECOGNITION

I. Respect

Coaches have a duty for the protection, safety, health, care, welfare and Human Rights of their Athletes. They should have a devotion-to and the highest regard for the humanity of their Athletes.

Coaches are to regard and recognize the human dignity of their players. Coaches must pay attention, be compassionate recognize Athletes’ human value. Coaches should be considerate of players and athletes by treating them as humans. Coaches should dutifully respect the human life of their Athletes.

“Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.”
Primum non nocere – “First do no harm to human life.”

II. Responsibility

Coaches have an obligation of oversight for the Physical, Psychological (Emotional) well being of their Athletes during the administration of their coaching duties. Coaches must develop and implement responsible coaching policies and standards of Safety 1st.
Coaches are accountable and hold an important position and Fiduciary duty of Trust by the players and athletes. Coaches have a designated authority for the proper care of their players and athletes. The Core of Coaching is Trust.

III. Relationships

Coaches should develop a positive relationship with their Athletes and develop an excellent level of mutual understanding and trust with good interpersonal communication.
Devoting time for each player and athlete, the Coach will develop a positive relationship learning about each Athlete’s Ambitions, Abilities and Skills. Coaches develop a positive relationship by taking a personal interest with plans and techniques for each Athlete’s individualized improvement of play.

Sexual Relationships and Sexual Abuse are forbidden and unlawful.

IV. Recognition

Coaches should acknowledge and recognize Athletes when they accomplish their goals and execute their performance plans well. Special one-on-one notice and complementary attention to the Athlete will enhance the trust for the Coach and motivate the Athlete. A pat on the back or the butt goes a long way. [4.]

“The nature of parental or adult involvement can also influence the degree to which participation in organized sports is a positive experience for preadolescents. This updates a previous policy statement on athletics for preadolescents and incorporates guidelines for sports participation for preschool children. Recommendations are offered on how pediatricians can help determine a child’s readiness to participate, how risks can be minimized, and how child-oriented goals can be maximized.”

“To optimize the safety and benefits of organized sports for children and preadolescents and to preserve this valuable opportunity for young people to increase their physical activity levels, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:

1. Organized sports programs for preadolescents should complement, not replace, the regular physical activity that is a part of free play, child-organized games, recreational sports, and physical education programs in the schools. Regular physical activity should be encouraged for all children whether they participate in organized sports or not.

2. Pediatricians are encouraged to help assess developmental readiness and medical suitability for children and preadolescents to participate in organized sports and assist in matching a child’s physical, social, and cognitive maturity with appropriate sports activities.

3. Pediatricians can take an active role in youth sports organizations by educating coaches about developmental and safety issues, monitoring the health and safety of children involved in organized sports, and advising committees on rules and safety.

4. Pediatricians are encouraged to take an active role in identifying and preserving goals of sports that best serve young athletes.

5. Additional research and resources are needed to:
a. determine the optimal time for children to begin participating in organized sports;
b. identify safe and effective training strategies for growing and developing athletes;
c. educate youth sports coaches about unique needs and characteristics of young athletes;
d. develop effective injury prevention strategies.” [3.]
[Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness, 2000-2001, Reginald L. Washington, MD, Chairperson, PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 6 June 2001, pp. 1459-1462, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: Organized Sports for Children and Preadolescents, Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness and Committee on School Health]

Balance, moderation, time management, appropriate parental support and proper Child Custodial Protection and Coaching Supervision and Athlete Safety First are necessary for Athlete-Centered Sports and Athlete Rights.

The negative outcomes of sports are the result of poor coaching, parental pressures and preventable, non-accidental sports injuries. [The Negative Effects of Youth Sports, Livestrong.com, Steve Silverman]

“Mahoney suggested that participation in voluntary, school-based, extracurricular activities increases school participation and achievement because it facilitates:

(a) the acquisition of interpersonal skills and positive social norms
(b) membership in pro-social peer groups.
(c) stronger emotional and social connections to one’s school.

In turn, these assets should increase mental health, school engagement, school achievement, and long-term educational outcomes and should decrease participation in problem behaviors, provided that problem behaviors are not endorsed by the peer cultures that emerge in these activities.” [Mahoney et al]

“Participation in extracurricular and service learning activities has also been linked to increases in interpersonal competence, self-concept, high school grade point average (GPA), school engagement, and educational aspirations” [Elder & Conger, 2000; Marsh & Kleitman, 2002; Youniss, McLellan, & Yates, 1999], as well as to higher educational achievement, better job quality, more active participation in the political process and other types of volunteer activities, continued sport engagement, and better mental health during young adulthood [Barber, Eccles, & Stone, 2001; Glancy, Willits, & Farrell, 1986; Marsh, 1992; Youniss, McLellan, Su, & Yates, 1999].

Sports participation has been linked to lower likelihood of school dropout and higher rates of college attendance, particularly for low achieving and blue-collar male athletes (Gould & Weiss, 1987; Marsh & Kleitman, 2003; McNeal, 1995).

These studies provide good evidence that participating in extracurricular activities is associated with both short and long term indicators of positive development including school achievement and educational attainment. Some of these relations hold even after the other obvious predictors of such outcomes are controlled–giving us some confidence that these effects do not just reflect the selection factors that lead to participation in the first place.[Extracurricular activities and adolescent development. Journal of Social Issues, December 22, 2003, Eccles, Jacquelynne S.; Barber, Bonnie L.; Stone, Margaret; Hunt, James]

“How young people spend their time outside of school has consequences for their development.” Organized extracurricular activities, after-school programs, and youth organization have significantly escalated. Research reveals positive outcomes “of participation for academic, educational, social, civic, and physical development”. Combining this with the potential for safety and supervision provided by organized activities while parents are working has increased local, state, and Federal authorities to increase these opportunities.

However, there is concern that these organized activities have become excessive for youth. “Over-scheduling” is thought to result from pressure from adults (parents, coaches, teachers) to achieve and attain long-term educational and career goals.

Others say the increase in these activities and outside pressures contribute to poor youth psychosocial adjustment and to undermine their relationships with parents and the function of the family circle

The study attempted to resolve the question. The result:

“(1) The primary motivations for participation in organized activities are intrinsic (e.g., excitement and enjoyment, to build competencies, and to affiliate with peers and activity leaders). Pressures from adults or educational/career goals are seldom given as reasons for participation;”

“(2) American youth average about 5 hours/week participating in organized activities. At any given time, roughly 40% of young people in the US do not participate in organized activities and those who do typically spend less than 10 hours/week participating. Many alternative leisure activities (e.g., educational activities, playing games, watching television) consume as much or considerably more time. However, a very small subgroup of youth (between 3 and 6 percent) spends 20 or more hours/week participating;”

(3) “Youth who participate demonstrate healthier functioning on such indicators ranging from academic achievement, school completion, post secondary educational attainment, psychological adjustment, and lowered rates of smoking and drug use, to the quantity and quality of interactions with their parents.

(4) Very high levels of involvement in organized activity participation (e.g., 20 or more hours/week), adjustment appeared more positive than, than youth who did not participate.
Participation is associated with positive developmental outcomes for most youth. “The well-being of youth who do not participate in organized activities is reliably less positive compared to youth who do participate.”

[Organized Activity Participation, Positive Youth Development, and the Over-Scheduling Hypothesis, Joseph L. Mahoney, Angel L. Harris, and Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Volume XX, Number IV, Social Policy Report, 2006]

If individual instruction of the Coach of Coaches does not get the anticipated results, second, consider the Olweus School Bullying Prevention Programs Core Components [1.] [2.] and how they might apply or be adapted to SRE. Components have been condensed for adaptation.

Teams Leagues, Clubs, Schools Administrative Components
• Establish a Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee.
• Conduct committee and staff trainings.
• Introduce rules against bullying.
• Post and enforce rules against bullying.

Athlete-Level Components
• Committee Members attend practices and games and observe SRE activities.
• Ensure that all staff intervene on the spot when bullying occurs.
• Report back to the Committee
• Hold separate meetings with coaches, students and parents involved in bullying.

Community-Level Components
• Involve community members on the Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee.
• Develop partnerships with community members to support your SRE program.
• Help spread anti-bullying messages and principles in the community.
• Involve community members on the Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committee.
• Develop partnerships with community members to support SRE program.
• Help to spread anti-bullying messages and principles of best practice in the community. [2.]

References:

[cvii Roxanne Sayer Lulofs, Conflict from Theory to Action, (Scottsdale, AZ: Gorsuch Scarisbrick, Publishers, 1994), 123]
[cciv Peter Randall, Adult Bullying: Perpetrators and Victims, (New York: Routledge, 1997), 27.. ccvi Ibid]
[ccvii Noa Davenport, Ruth Distler Schwartz, & Gail Pursell Elliott, Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Worklplace, (Ames, Iowa: Civil Society Publishing, 1999), 71. ccviii Ibid, 157-158.]
[1.Effects of Antibullying School Program on Bullying, Minne Fekkes, MSc, PhD; Frans I. M. Pijpers, MD, PhD; S. Pauline Verloove-Vanhorick, MD, PhD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006; 160(6): 638-644.]
[2. Olweus Bullying Prevention Program Scope and Sequence Report (PDF).]
[3. POSITIVE OUTCOMES OF SPORTS PARTICIPATION, Micheal B. Minix, Sr., M.D. Research, Team Physician’s Corner, Blanton Collier Sportsmanship Foundation, Inc.] [ http://www.cappaa.com ]
[4. http://www.cappaa.com/category/4-rs-of-coaching]

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