Penn State, Paterno, McQueary, Sandusky, Coaches Must Know Procedures for Handling Abuse Says Ethics Center.

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Center for Ethical Youth Coaching Provides Steps That a Coach Should Follow.

The Center for Ethical Youth Coaching (CEYC) advises the following procedures for a coach to follow in the event that they witness or suspect an incidence of child abuse.

Procedures to follow in situations where you witness abuse taking place.
1-    If a coach witnesses an act of abuse as it is taking place they should call 911 immediately.
2-    After calling 911, a coach should call out for help at the scene and continue to call for help as loud as they can until help arrives, the perpetrator stops, or the 911 call is responded to.
3-    If safe, verbally detain the perpetrator until the police arrive. If that is not possible or safe, try to memorize everything you can about the perpetrator. Take a picture of the fleeing perpetrator with your cell phone. Do not fight with the perpetrator.
4-    If safe, move the victim away from the perpetrator, possibly stand between the perpetrator and the victim.
5-    Verbally comfort the victim with reassuring statements such as: Help is on the way. You are safe now. I am here to help you.
6-    Don’t leave the victim alone to chase after or punish the perpetrator. Your primary concern is the well being of the victim, not to be law enforcement. The police’s job is to catch the criminal. Stay with the victim until professional help arrives.
7-    Try not to touch the victim unless they need immediate medical assistance. An adult has violated the victim. Your touching, no matter how benevolent may add to the victim’s feelings of being violated and become traumatic. It is important for the victim to regain control over himself or herself no matter how young. In the victim’s confused state of mind your touching may implicate you in the victimization of the child.
8-    Once professional help arrives stay out of their way and let their training and experience handle the situation.
9-    Report the entire incident in full detail to your superiors in the sports program where you coach.
Procedures to follow in situations where a child reports abuse to you alone and there is clear physical evidence of the abuse such as bruising, wounds, or the child looks physically sick.
1-    Place a call to the state child welfare agency. Each state has their own phone number for such reporting you should have this in your phone directory if you coach youth. The national child abuse hotline phone number is: 1-800-4-A-CHILD.
2-    If one or more of your superiors in the sports program is available you may feel more comfortable being in their presence or witnessing them call the state or national child welfare agency.
3-    If there were no superiors available at the time you made the call to the state agency then as soon as possible report your observations and actions to your superiors in the sports program where you are a coach. Tell them you contacted the child welfare agency.
4-    Do not depend on your superiors in the sports program to relieve you of your ethical duty to report the abuse. Be present when they make the call. If that is somehow not possible, then you should call the state agency anyway.
5-    Follow-up with the child and with your superiors to make sure the child is safe.
6-    If you feel that the child is in danger once you leave them to return home, call 911.
Procedures to follow in situations where a child confides in you that they have been or are being abused but you cannot observe physical signs of the abuse or in situations where the child does not report abuse to you but you suspect abuse because of behavioral signs.
1-    Discuss your concerns with your superiors in the sports program where you coach. If you are the highest authority in the program, discuss your concerns with other staff members. Collect information on what others have seen or observed.
2-    If you continue to suspect abuse, consult a mental health professional, counselor, medical professional or minister associated with your team and discuss your concerns.
3-    Encourage one or more of the professionals mentioned above to gently investigate your concerns with the child directly. Follow-up with the outcome of that discussion.
4-    Discuss your concerns with the parent(s) of the child.
5-    If you still suspect the existence of child abuse, place a call to the child welfare agency in your state or the national child abuse hotline. Professionals will respond and they will investigate the possibility of child abuse.

The Center for Ethical Youth Coaching has developed the most comprehensive training and certification program available for coaches at all levels of youth sports from the earliest ages through college coaches. This certification is called, the Ethical Youth Coach Certification or EYC. To be certified as an EYC coach, a prospective coach must read a training manual and then take an exam both of which cover the areas of ethics, safety, first aid, good communication, sportsmanship, healthy lifestyle, discipline, developmental issues in young people and handling special issues in youth coaching such as dealing with parents, motivating players, child abuse, and substance abuse. The coach then passes a background check from the leading security screening service and pledges to uphold the ethical standards of the CEYC. The cost of the three-year certification is $75.00 and that covers the manual, test fees and background check. All procedures can be done online at the Center’s website.

The mission of the not-for-profit Center for Ethical Youth Coaching is to raise the ethical standards of coaches who work with young athletes, through research, publication, credentialing and public presentations. As a result of raising these ethical standards, young athletes will be in the best possible position to learn and grow through sports. Sports are a tremendous way to learn about life and develop life skills; it is therefore important that coaches are prepared to guide young athletes in the most ethical manner possible.


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Dr. John E. Mayer-VP
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