SRGC acknowledges its responsibility for protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of children participating in our programs and activities. Therefore, we are committed to supporting our gymnasts and safeguarding their wellbeing on and off the ﬁeld of play through education, prevention and care.
Safe Sport is SRGC’s initiative to recognise, reduce and respond to misconduct in sport to allow our athletes train, compete and thrive in a safe and positive environment.
PREVENTION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND ABUSE
Sport is a microcosm of society. As such, wider societal ills occur in sport just as they do outside of sport. While it is well known that sport offers signiﬁcant potential for personal and social beneﬁts, this potential is undermined where such problems occur.
DEFINING THE PROBLEM
Sexual harassment and abuse in sport takes on unique dimensions because of the power relationships
established with members of their entourage (coaches, administrators, medical staff etc.).
Harassment and/or abuse may occur in combination or isolation. The following categories of instances, which are not closed, include:
PREVALENCE, RISKS AND CONSEQUENCES
Sexual harassment and abuse happen in all sports and at all levels. Prevalence appears to be higher in elite sport. Members of the athlete’s entourage who are in positions of power and authority appear to be the primary perpetrators. Peer athletes have also been identiﬁed as perpetrators.
The risk of sexual harassment and abuse is greater when there is a lack of protection, high perpetrator motivation and high athlete vulnerability (especially in relation to age and maturation). Research demonstrates that sexual harassment and abuse in sport seriously and negatively impact on athletes’ physical and psychological health. It can result in impaired performance and lead to athlete drop-out. Clinical data indicate that psychosomatic illnesses, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self-harm and suicide are some of the serious health consequences.
Self-Harm and Suicide
Passive attitudes/non-intervention, denial and/or silence by people in positions of power in sport (particularly bystanders) increases the psychological harm of sexual harassment and abuse. Lack of bystander action also creates the impression for victims that sexually harassing and abusive behaviours are legally and socially acceptable and/or that those in sport are powerless to speak out against it.
RELATIONSHIP IN SPORT
Sexual harassment and abuse in sport do not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, sexual orientation or disability. Athletes come from many different cultural and family backgrounds and are the centre of a system of relationships focused on helping them to achieve their sport potential. There is always a power difference in an athlete’s relationships with members of their entourage. This power difference, if misused, can lead to sexual harassment and abuse and, in particular, to exploitative sexual relationships with athletes.
These relationships require that a signiﬁcant amount of time be spent together in the emotionally intense environment of competitive sport. Research identiﬁes risk situations as the changing-room, the playing ﬁeld, trips away, the coach’s home or car, and social events, especially where alcohol is involved. Team initiations or end-of-season celebrations can also involve sexually abusive behaviour against individuals or groups. This situation has the potential to put the athlete at risk of isolation within a controlling relationship where his/her power and right to make decisions is undermined.
All adults in an athlete’s environment must adopt clear guidelines about their roles, responsibilities and appropriate relationship boundaries. It is essential that each member of the entourage, and any other authority ﬁgure, stays within the boundaries of a professional relationship with the athlete.
Accepted prevention strategies include policies with associated codes of practise, education and training, complaint and support mechanisms, and monitoring and evaluation systems. Regardless of cultural differences, every sports organisation should have these provisions in place.
The policy is a statement of intent that demonstrates a commitment to creating a safe and mutually respectful environment. The policy should state what is required in relation to the promotion of rights, well-being and protection. It allows the organisation to generate prompt, impartial and fair action when a complaint or allegation is made. It further allows it to take disciplinary, penal and other measures, as appropriate.
Codes of practise describe acceptable standards of behaviour that, when followed, serve to implement the policy. Standards of behaviour set a clear benchmark for what is acceptable and unacceptable. They can help to minimise opportunities for sexual harassment and abuse and unfounded allegations.
Code of practise
Education and training
Complaint and support mechanisms
Monitoring and evaluation systems
Supporting athletes and safeguarding their wellbeing should be the collective concern of us all. Sport organisations have the responsibility to take afﬁrmative steps, to help protect sport and all those who take part in sport.
Recognising the problem of sexual harassment in sports, the SRGC Safe Sport Policy 2020 was developed to ensure a safe and supportive environment for our young athletes involved in SRGC programs and activities by taking steps to eliminate all forms of harassment and abuse, violence and exploitation.