VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As some of Canada’s World Junior hockey players caught some harsh criticism on social media following a quarterfinal loss this week, it served as another look into the darker side of the culture of the sport.
It can start at an early age through a slightly different lens.
Matt Bell, 19, is a youth hockey official in Stratford, Ontario, and recently posted an open letter on Twitter.
He described getting some nasty verbal feedback from one parent in particular, and is trying to remind everyone that hostility in the face of something you don’t agree with isn’t the best way to go.
Sean Raphael, the referee-in-chief for the B.C. Amateur Hockey Association, says much has been done to take that kind of thing out of youth hockey.
However, he admits it still exists.
“There’s going to be some of that negative feedback, frustration,” Raphael tells NEWS 1130. “People maybe not understanding what the officials are doing when they’re right, or not understanding the human component to it — that they are going to mistakes and how to appropriately, maybe, address their frustration when they see somebody maybe make a mistake.”
While some of the verbal abuse on and off the ice can be extreme, Raphael says everyone needs to continue to work to phase that element out of the game.
“If we want to eliminate checking from behind or head injuries, and we implement rules to address them, overnight the philosophy doesn’t change, right? It takes time to condition it into what the new expectation is. And we maybe need a little bit more focus on what that expectation is of conduct.”
Work is ongoing to try and address the issue, he adds, however, Raphael says sometimes it’s still easy to forget where the line is.
“I think it’s just a matter of everybody in the culture understanding that everyone has a role to play in the game, and that everyone’s an individual person on the ice and that we shouldn’t really get too caught up on trivialities of the sport and that we’re all there for the same goal.”
The University of Michigan athletics department said Sunday that it would end its contract with a former U.S.A. Gymnastics executive connected to the Lawrence G. Nassar sexual abuse scandal, just days after the university hired her as a coaching consultant for its women’s gymnastics team.
The university’s decision to move on from the former executive, Rhonda Faehn, is the latest fallout from the scandal, in which Nassar, a former doctor for the United States women’s gymnastics team and Michigan State University, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sex crimes against female athletes.
But outcry built after she was hired on Thursday, with some university regents and members of the public demanding an end to the contract with Ms. Faehn, The Detroit News reported Sunday.
“I have come to the conclusion that it is not in the best interest of the University of Michigan and our athletic program to continue the consulting contract with Rhonda Faehn,” Athletic Director Warde Manuel said in a statement. “It was the wrong decision, and I apologize.”
The athletics department did not answer further questions about Ms. Faehn’s firing. Efforts to reach Ms. Faehn, who led the women’s gymnastics program at the University of Florida to three straight N.C.A.A. titles, were not successful.
During her testimony before Congress, she described how she had told the former president of U.S.A. Gymnastics, Steve Penny, about a coach’s concerns about Nassar in July 2015. She said that she assumed Mr. Penny would quickly report the concerns to law enforcement, and that he had directed her not to discuss “the current issue” about a member of the medical staff with anyone.
In an announcement about her hiring, Mr. Manuel said that after the university’s “exhaustive due diligence,” it “felt comfortable that coach Faehn reported all information available to her regarding Larry Nassar and that she cooperated fully.”
“Neither an internal investigation by U.S.A. Gymnastics or a criminal investigation by the F.B.I. have assigned culpability or resulted in any charges against her,” Mr. Manuel said in the announcement.
It is not clear what exactly led to the university changing direction or when Ms. Faehn’s contract is set to end. As of Sunday night, the university’s website still listed her as an assistant coach.
Peter MacKay, former federal justice minister and attorney general, is the board chair of the Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Center. Karyn Kennedy is the organization’s CEO.
Many Canadians have paid close attention to the criminal proceedings involving students at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto, which have included assault and gang sexual assault. At Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre, we have been supporting victims and families involved in this case, as we have been doing for thousands of victims and their families in Toronto for more than 30 years. The storied history of the school has made the St. Michael’s case seem exceptional; but sadly, it is not. Even in the weeks after the St. Michael’s story emerged, we’ve had calls from parents across the city seeking help because their child was abused at other schools.
This is a problem that exists in every part of the country: Each year, there are more than 200,000 cases of reported child abuse and neglect in Canada. This number alone is shocking enough. Consider also that the impact of unresolved childhood abuse can be lifelong and cut across generations. This present reality makes us angry. It makes us sad. It must also drive action on improvement, because improved prevention is possible. That number can go down.
We must appreciate that this isn’t just about one school with a problem. In fact, this isn’t just a school problem. The St. Michael’s case has opened a window into the dangers of abuse that face children and youth across Canada in a variety of settings.
With younger children, the safety imperatives can seem more obvious. We regulate things such as car seats and playground equipment. We teach children in our lives to look both ways when crossing the street. We child-proof our homes.
When children become adolescents, they have new experiences that can sometimes present new risks. They spend more unsupervised time with other young people. Various adults can play significant roles in their lives and in reaching goals related to sports or other activities. Adolescents are not always as well prepared for the risks in these new environments because awareness and prevention aren’t discussed as openly as those childhood risks. This must change. Protection of adolescent children is also on our watch – the responsibility belongs to all of us.
Let’s start by losing our complacency and pledging to never permit, mask or make excuses for any type of abuse. Let’s call hazing and initiation what it truly is: a deliberate, often illegal use of power to abuse and degrade another human being. We also need to consider whether the term bullying really captures what is happening when boys and girls are physically or sexually assaulted by older children or youth. When such acts are committed against an adult, we call it sexual assault and call the police. Young people should be made more aware that committing such acts can lead to criminal charges and are, in fact, very damaging to those victimized.
Active, honest communication is vital. Children and youth must know that they will be heard if they tell an adult that they have experienced or seen abuse. There are children who have told our staff about wanting to tell an adult in their life about abuse but feeling there was never the right moment when they would have their full attention and understanding. Everybody has a responsibility to create those moments. Young people must know there is no higher priority than their safety. No other goal – not championships or scholarships – is more important than their well-being.
We need to build a stronger culture of prevention in places where youth spend their time. There should be active and transparent plans, understood by all – school administrators, principals, teachers, coaches, youth and parents – for mitigating the risk of assault and sexual assault.
Children who come forward to report abuse are heroes who open our eyes. We can’t look away. We owe it to them to protect them and other children from harm. All Canadians must join us in taking action, right now, to prevent abuse and build a future in which children and youth grow up in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment.
Dave Trafford had an incredible time at St. Michael’s College School four decades ago. He was the student body president, played on the hockey team, performed in musicals and ran its newspaper. He had a close group of friends who all had a great time.
Or so he thought.
Last week, as the all-boys private school in Toronto was rocked by allegations of assault and sexual assault by students, Trafford discovered that two of his best friends had struggled with bullying and felt unsafe at St. Michael’s.
“I did not see it then,” Trafford said. “It’s shocking, disappointing and heartbreaking.”
A criminal investigation triggered by a video that police sources say shows several members of a St. Michael’s sports team pinning down a student and sexually assaulting him with a broom handle has now expanded to include at least six incidents. Six students – aged 14 and 15 – are already facing sex assault-related charges and police have warned more charges could follow.
The school has admitted that it has failed in its responsibility to keep students safe, saying the recent incidents clearly indicate it has a problem.
“We need to do much better at our culture and our student’s ability to talk to us,” the school’s principal, Greg Reeves, said earlier this week after police announced the criminal charges against the six students.
The growing scandal has forced alumni to grapple with the past and a number of them are coming forward with their own experiences of bullying and harassment at the school that stretches back decades.
“There’s a real opportunity for the school to take a good look at itself and go deep and figure out how and why it happened and how they missed this,” Trafford said. “And to find out everything that has happened in the past.”
A number of former students who spoke with The Canadian Press said they’re eager to share their stories as part of an internal review promised by the school.
Nathan Goveas graduated from St. Michael’s in 2003.
“I was bullied the entire time I was there, right from day one,” said Goveas, who’s now a teacher.
He wasn’t involved in sports.
“I’m a skinny brown kid. People made fun of my appearance. It was mostly verbal bullying,” he said.
He never complained, but said his mother grew worried when she noticed he was feeling “down” in Grade 11. So she went to the administration.
“The principal dismissed it as boys will be boys,” Goveas said. The bullying continued.
Kyle Fraser said he left St. Michael’s in 2013 after Grade 10, unable to deal with the bullying.
“Leaving was the best decision of my life,” he said.
“I was bullied non stop, very relentless, not only by the students (but also) by the staff.”
He said he was picked on because he struggled with math and science and also because he wasn’t as good at hockey as some other students there.
“All that stuff affected me for a very long time,” he said. He became depressed and anxious.
“I was suicidal at one point. It got really bad.”
Fraser, who now studies at a university in Ohio, shared his story at an alumni meeting at the school on Tuesday night and received a lot of support afterward.
“It was very warming and put me in a peaceful state of mind,” he said. “There are a lot of good people there.”
Fraser and Goveas said there was a wide range of opinions at the meeting.
“I think some alumni aren’t willing to recognize the issues,” Goveas said.
Jean-Paul Bedard went public with his story last week in wake of the scandal. He lived through a violent, sexualized hazing incident at the school in the 1980s. He didn’t attend the alumni meeting, but has offered his services to the school as not only a survivor of sexual assault, but also as a trained trauma peer mentor. The school has yet to take up his offer.
“I’m skeptical of this review, but I will certainly be sharing my story,” he said. “Their attitude seems to be ‘we know how to fix this and don’t need outside help.“’
D’Arcy McKeown said he had a great time at St. Michael’s. Just a few months after graduating from the Roman Catholic school in 2005, he says he was sexually assaulted with a broom handle at McGill University as part of a hazing with the football team.
He left after just two weeks and returned to his alma mater, St. Michael’s, which he called a “safe space to recover.” He volunteered with the school’s football program for a time, before eventually resuming his studies at the University of Toronto.
McKeown applauded the school’s desire to take a victim-centric approach as it deals with both the current incidents and the historical “deep dive” into its culture.
“You need to get everything out there,” he said. “If others’ unfortunate experiences can help guide St. Mike’s in preventing these things going forward, it’s for the best, as painful as it may be for some to tell these stories.”
St. Michael’s alumni will be helping the school with mentorship and workshops in the coming days and weeks in an effort to help the current students.
The online tool, called “Being Trauma Aware: Making a difference in the lives of children and youth”, is a two-and-a-half-hour course designed to increase understanding of the effects of child abuse and provide training for social workers, teachers, police officers, doctors, sport coaches and other front-line workers.
“What we hear time and time again is when a child finally does disclose or a perpetrator is held accountable is that many people who were involved in the situation had their suspicions,” said Sara Austin, CEO of the centre.
“People had a bad feeling about a situation and yet for some reason didn’t act. This course really helps to fill that gap.”
Its development was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Austin said one in three Canadians experiences some form of abuse as a child, yet the issue is still vastly under-reported.
“The majority will not disclose their abuse,” she said. “Even as an adult, many survivors still do not come forward and seek help.”
The course is “trauma-informed” and “evidence-based,” according to Austin.
“It really is around creating awareness about the issues involving child maltreatment,” she said. “By taking the course, you would learn things like how to recognize the signs of potential child abuse, how to respond if a child discloses abuse, what to do if you suspect the child abuse is happening and how you can responsibly report the incident and maintain the safety of the child involved.”
Keeping Girls in Sport is an online resource that teaches coaches and youth activity leaders how to create safe and respectful environments for girls, and ultimately, help girls stay enrolled and engaged in sport and physical activity.
Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities is a national charity dedicated to helping kids, who otherwise might not have the chance to play, get in the game. Studies have repeatedly shown that during adolescence, girls drop out of sport at a significantly higher rate than boys. Along with removing financial and accessibility barriers to sport and recreation, Jumpstart is committed to helping girls get, and stay active for life.
Beyond physical fitness, there are countless benefits to participating in sport and recreation. Sport fosters valuable life skills like confidence, resilience, and teamwork, and helps girls grow up to become strong leaders in their own communities and beyond.
JUMPSTART GAMES FOR GIRLS
Since 2016, Jumpstart has hosted several Jumpstart Games for Girls across Canada. Inspired by Jumpstart’s Chairman Emeritus, Martha Billes, these games are a fun day of play where girls can be active, have fun, feel inspired to get into the game, and remain active throughout adolescence.
The Zebra Centre’s Becci Watson, Director of Justice Partnerships & Supports, shares how to respond to a disclosure of child abuse, and the important role you play in making sure that child feels heard and believed.
2,000 Canadians surveyed by Navigator in February (2018), over one third of female respondents said they had been sexually harassed at work. 12 per cent of men said they had been sexually harassed at work. Another report, this time conducted by the Gandolf Group, showed that 94 per cent of executives think sexual harassment is not a problem, and four in five Canadians said they had “unwanted experiences at work, and didn’t report it to their employers.” MORE
Respect Group is extremely PROUD to announce that we are officially certified as a B Corp™!
To become accredited, corporations must undertake a rigorous application process that requires detailed responses and supporting justification to 161 key questions. Criteria includes;
proof of improving the quality of life in their community
proof of positive educational outcomes from learning products offered
proof of a formal charitable “designed to give” process that exceeds industry norms
proof of providing higher quality jobs/employee benefits that exceed industry norms
proof of providing diversity and inclusion training financial and operational transparency with complete disclosures
meeting legal requirements
There are over 2512 accredited B Corps world-wide and 235 in Canada. Becoming a B Corp has been a lengthy and arduous pursuit, but one that we felt was critical for our team of over 30 professionals and our +600 valued partners/customers that include governments, universities, private enterprise, schools, sport and youth serving organizations.
We’ve been here for 14 years however, time in business (for us), is not enough.
Credibility, accountability and our values, inside and outside of our workplace are what matter most.
Remaining B Corp certified is an ongoing process but, for a moment, we wanted to pause, be proud and be grateful for each of you who have put your trust in us. This achievement represents the very best in business collaboration….Thank You!
CALGARY—Former NHL hockey player and sex abuse survivor Sheldon Kennedy says that a recent federal announcement requiring sports bodies to report and investigate abuse allegations is a constructive step toward child and youth safety.
On June 19, sport minister Kirsty Duncan announced the new requirement. National sports bodies that receive federal money “must immediately disclose any incident of abuse, discrimination or harassment to the Minister of Sport,” she said……
…Hockey Calgary executive director Kevin Kobelka is also supportive of the announcement.
The minor hockey association he helps manage covers male and female hockey players from the Timbits age group (four and five years old) up to junior-B hockey (16 to 21 years old).
“(We) were the first organization to implement Respect in Sport since 2010,” he said. “Hockey Alberta followed suit and mandated its training after.”
The training program is part of a larger group co-founded by Kennedy called Respect Group Inc. Its goal is to empower people in sports to recognize and prevent bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination.
The Calgary hockey association requires all coaches to take Respect in Sport’s training program and, starting this year, to get recertified every four years Kobelka said. MORE
Respect Group offers fully bilingual Helpdesk Support 7 days a week from 6 AM to Midnight MST.On the login page of your Respect Group Program you will see Helpdesk Support in the lower left-hand corner. Click there to see brief troubleshooting steps or how to contact the Helpdesk.
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