Wednesday 26 September 2007

Bloggers Unite Against Abuse

In conjunction with Blog Catalog, today is the day when thousands of bloggers will post about some type of abuse in an attempt to raise awareness.

I would like to raise the issue of potential abuse suffered by children involved in organized sports. As with all types of situations where a person in power takes advantage of someone more vulnerable, by far most situations do not involve such behaviour. In other words, the vast majority of the millions of sports leagues and activities organized for children worldwide result in positive and enjoyable experiences.

This makes the instances where abuse does take place all the more horrible and loathsome.

To come forward with allegations of abuse requires a real sort of bravery that is admirable and deserving of respect. Words such as "bravery" and "courage" are thrown around so easily these days that they have almost lost some of their meaning. But the actions of someone like Sheldon Kennedy are without doubt worthy of such designations. Kennedy had the guts to come forward knowing that regardless of what he suffered through, his image would be altered forever.

I salute Sheldon Kennedy and others like him who have gone through the worst of nightmares, continued on to achieve success and had the guts to try to help others who may be suffering through the same predicament.

As with all such terrible types of abuse, awareness is one of the tools for preparing people who may be faced with such potential nastiness so that they are able to react. Such crimes are still shrouded in shame and guilt for those who suffer the abuse and the only way to eliminate that aspect of it and, most of all, try to prevent it all together, is to talk and make children aware of the warning signs.

For parents with children involved in organized sports, the best method of prevention is a respectful and transparent vetting process for all adults involved in coaching or any other position connected with a youth team. Another way is to involve yourself in some direct way with your child's team aside from simply dropping them off at the baseball diamond or soccer pitch.

When you are satisfied and confident that beyond any doubt your child is in safe hands, you can be content with the knowledge that his or her sporting experience is likely to be a positive and character building experience that will carry through life.