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Preventing Sports Bullying

Preventing Sports Bullying

A lot of children that are being abused during their sporting events are afraid to tell anyone that they are a victim top sports bullying. The worst fear that youngsters have is that they will not be believed.

  • May not think their parents, coach or teacher would believe that their team mates were bullying them
  • They don’t want to upset their parents, they may be afraid that their parents will cause trouble or they might hope the problem will go away
  • That telling someone will make the problem worse
  • That they’ll lose their place in the team if they tell
  • If they’re being bullied by the coach they may think they have no choice but to put up with it
  • That the coach will call the team together and raise the matter publicly, leading to humiliation and distress and worse bullying

The second is that telling someone will make the problem worse. They may worry that they’ll lose their place in the team, that the coach will call the team together and raise the matter publicly, leading to humiliation and distress and worse bullying.

Often children don’t tell their parents that they’re being bullied. Sometimes they don’t want to upset their parents, they may be afraid that their parents will cause trouble or they might hope the problem will go away.

What parents can do – We as adults and parents must set an example on how to deal with issues that come up with that we disagree with. One important way to protect children and young people is to educate them about keeping safe and encourage them to talk to someone if they are worried about anything.   How we deal with the bullying is the same way our children will deal with it not only in a sporting event but also at school and later on at work. Dealing with bullies on your child’s sports team is a difficult task. You don’t want to upset your child further by interfering too much, yet you don’t want your child to get hurt. Bullies care cruel enough to make your child lose self-esteem and the desire to play sports. Youth sports should be fun and appealing for your child, no matter what age.

Some suggestions to work with your child

  • First and foremost: Ensure the safety of yourself and your child first.
  • Listen to your child. Encourage your child to talk to you about what problems he’s experiencing. Don’t be concerned if your child would prefer to speak with someone else. Sometimes kids are ashamed or embarrassed to talk to parents about issues such as these.
  • Tell your child to discuss any concerns with anyone in authority. Remind her that there’s always someone she can talk to about the bullies: coaches, teachers, parents or another child’s parents. Early recognition can sometimes halt the bullies from causing more problems.
  • It’s important that you be courageous and ‘stand up’ to the bullying coaches’ behaviour. Reach out to the coach, and ask to speak to the coach in private. Bring up the matter with the coach, and tell him that you’re concerned about other players’ behaviour toward your child. Most coaches are receptive to this request. If the environment is a controlled one under close adult supervision, bullies are less likely to strike. To the extent that you sit by, complain in the background, but do nothing to prevent bullying behaviours, you allow it to continue.
  • Support your child. Bullies can make your child feel like a failure, lonely, unhappy and afraid. Reassure your child. Let him know that it’s not his fault, and there’s nothing wrong with him.
  • If, after bringing your concern to the coaches attention and you don’t see a change in the behaviour of the coach then immediately report their specific behaviours which you view as bullying to any supervisor or league authorities. Be as specific as possible to help others identify and change the behaviours in question.

However, there may be an extreme case where you may find that with the people in charge of the organization are in support of bullying coaches. In that case, you must weigh the financial, physical and psychological costs of moving your child to a different team or coach. Staying with the same coach is likely to lead to increased anxiety and decreased athletic performance at a minimum. Moving to a different coach may mean increased financial expenses, driving time and leaving behind the friendship of other parents and children.

In addition, here are a few more suggestions

  • If you see or hear about a coach who yells at, intimidates or insults kids, you should take action. If you merely sit back and complain, you’re part of the problem. You first need to start by talking to the coach or the parent who is bullying.
  • Recognize that you are a role model to your child, other players and parents. Set a good example and reinforce positive behaviour when you see it.
  • Maintain open and honest communication with your child and the coach to discuss acceptable boundaries of behaviour to ensure that any concerns are addressed.
  • Ensure that a pre-season meeting is held with parents, athletes, coaches and board members to discuss acceptable boundaries of behaviour for everyone involved.
  • Inquire whether the coach is certified and a member of a provincial sport governing body with a code of ethics and harassment policy. If not, work with the coach, other parents and board members toward getting the coach certified.
  • Try to attend practices and games whenever possible. If private practices are held, ask for an explanation.
  • If you observe bullying, bring the matter to the attention of the coach, other parents or league officials.

What players can do – If you are an athlete you must realize that your physical and psychological health is of the greatest importance. If you’re a young sports player and you’re feeling upset at the way you’re being treated on the field by your team mates or adults involved in the game then there are things you can do about that. Not everyone can be on the team so don’t be upset if you’re not always chosen. That doesn’t mean that you’re being bullied, just that the coach needs to pick the strongest side. But if team mates make fun of you on the pitch or in the changing room, or try to upset you to put you off the game so that you don’t want to take part in training sessions, that could be bullying if it keeps happening.

  • Ask friends on the team to back up what you say
  • Bullies pick on people who they think are afraid, Show them you’re not
  • Trust your instincts. If someone’s behaviour is making you feel uncomfortable or threatened, don’t ignore it. You have the right to be treated respectfully. There is something that can be done.
  • Talk to someone you trust—a parent, friend, coach, manager or another player. Remember to keep speaking up until someone helps you.
  • Stay calm; bullies loves a reaction so do not give them the reaction they are looking for.
  • Keep a diary of what happens
  • If you feel angry, ashamed, guilty, anxious or sad every time you come near your coach, you may want to look for a new coach. Project confidence. Hold your head up and stand up straight.
  • Don’t reply to messages from cyberbullies. If you’re receiving threatening text messages or e-mails don’t reply, but keep the messages as evidence. The police and your Internet Service Provider and/or the telephone company(s) can use these messages to help you.
  • Understand what bullying is and the negative impact it can have on you and those around you. If you’re standing around watching bullying happen, you’re part of the problem instead of the solution. You’re exactly the audience that the bully wants. You, more than anyone else, have the power to help. Here’s what you can do as a bystander:
  • speak up
  • walk away and go get help
  • help the target
  • don’t fight the bully

If the problem isn’t resolved, your parents should ask the coach or team manager for a copy of the complaints and/or bullying policy

Depending upon how volatile your coach is, and how strong a bond you have with him or her, you may want to try talking with your coach first to see if they are able to change their behaviour. If your coach is explosive, talk to your parents first and ask for their support. Ask them to intervene on your behalf. Tell them how you feel. If you go to your parents and tell them you feel anxious, scared, angry or ashamed every time you approach your coach, hopefully, they will recognize the need for a face-to-face with the coach.

What coaches and volunteers can do – Coaches need to recognize the achievement of the players who are never going to be stars but for whom a place in the team is a real achievement and something they can look back on with pride.

Bullying thrives on secrecy

Talk to your team at least once a month about bullying. Like anything else the more they are aware of bullying hopefully the less you will see.

Express zero tolerance

Remind them of sanctions that can be taken against them

Make sure they know who they can turn to in the club, and outside, for help.

Be aware of your tone of voice, body language, and other nonverbal messages.

The majority of what we communicate with others is done nonverbally and through tone of voice.

Tone of voice provides the greatest insight into how a coach is feeling when he or she speaks to an athlete.

Tone of voice alone can convey disgust, delight, disappointment, anger, contentment and much more. It’s not as much what you say as how you say it.

Winning is important but having a good time is just as important.

People who lose games might be unlucky but they are not ‘losers’ and there’s always another match, another season.

  • Learning how to deal with upset people is an exceptional leadership skill.
  • Recognize that you are a role model to players. Set a good example and reinforce positive behaviour.
  • Accept your obligation to ensure a safe and respectful sport environment by not engaging in, allowing, condoning, or ignoring behaviour that constitutes, or could be perceived as, bullying.
  • Establish open and honest communication between all parties involved, including parents, players, managers and volunteers.
  • Be prepared to look critically at your own behaviour. Accept feedback without being defensive and change, if needed.
  • Don’t view screening procedures, policy or training as a threat to your character, but rather as an opportunity to learn and to work towards a safer and healthier sporting environment for everyone.
  • Consider becoming a certified coach and a member of a provincial sport governing body with a code of ethics and harassment policy.
  • Bullying is very isolating
  • Once you have identified and dealt with the perpetrator you need to consider the victim, how to build up his or her self-esteem again, offer support and reassurance, perhaps assign another team member as a buddy.
  • You also need to keep an eye on the bully and make sure the bullying isn’t continuing in a secretive way

And most important, coaches should keep in mind that most of the athletes you coach are not going to become rich and famous. The best you can do is encourage your athletes’ love of the game. So keep it fun. Keep it low key. Turn down the volume on your competitiveness. Remind yourself that it’s just a game. It’s not a matter of life or death. Don’t get overly attached to winning. Focus on helping your athletes perform at their peak level.

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