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Edgehill.ac.uk Boundary Trangressions in the Coach-Athlete Relationship Symposium at ‘Safer, Better, Stronger! Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse.

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Presentation on theme: "Edgehill.ac.uk Boundary Trangressions in the Coach-Athlete Relationship Symposium at ‘Safer, Better, Stronger! Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse."— Presentation transcript:

1 edgehill.ac.uk Boundary Trangressions in the Coach-Athlete Relationship Symposium at ‘Safer, Better, Stronger! Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport’, Berlin, 20-21 November 2012. Dr. Jan Toftegaard Støckel, University of Southern Denmark Dr. Melanie Lang, Edge Hill University

2 edgehill.ac.uk “Monsters don’t get close to children, nice guys do” (Wyre, 2000, p.53) Child sex offenders “are sexual predadtors dressed up as nice men, or wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Salter, 1995, p.167) 2

3 edgehill.ac.uk What is Grooming? “A course of conduct enacted by a suspected paedophile which would give a reasonable persona cause for concern that any meeting with a child arising from the conduct would be for unlawful purposes” (Home Office, 2010, p.1) Deliberate & repeated actions taken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child & forming a trusting relationship with that child in order to lower that child’s inhibitions & gain the trust of the child in preparation for sexual activity or exploitation - Subtle, calculated & frequently carefully thought out and premeditated/ planned behaviour - May include activities that are, in and of themselves, legal = Allows abuse to go undetected 3

4 edgehill.ac.uk It’s not just the child who is groomed! Grooming also takes place in the social environment around the child: Perpetrators often ‘groom’ other adults around the child (parents, coaches etc.), develop trusting relationships – this in turn develops the child’s trust in the perpetrator Perpetrators can ‘groom’ whole communities (Leberg, 1997; Brackenridge & Fasting, 2005) – cultivating an ‘alibi of status’ (Brackenridge, 2001) = feel the child is in safe company, even when left alone = less likely an allegation will be believed 4

5 The Grooming Process Building trust and friendship Developing isolation and control; building loyalty Initiation of sexual abuse and securing secrecy Observing which athlete is vulnerable Finding occasions to test child out for secrecy and reliability Checking out child’s credentials as a susceptible person Striking up a friendship Being nice Making child feel special Giving gifts and rewards Spending time together Beginning to bargain: ’You have to do this, because I have done that.’ Refusing child access to significant others and/or demeaning any previous sources of friendship and support Restricting access to, or reliance on, parents and carers and non-sport peers Being inconsistent, building up hopes and joy one moment and then punishing the next to increase the child’s desperation for attention Checking the child’s commitment through questioning and setting small tests Gradual incursion into ambiguous sexual boundaries If athlete objects saying, ’You didn’t last time’ to entrap her Involving co-operation: ’you owe me/it’s the least you can do’. Invoking guilt: ’Now look what you’ve done’ Targeting a potential victim (Model adapted from Brackenridge, 2001) “It was the warm and friendly child or the vulnerable child I was looking for, or someone who had been a victim before, quiet, withdrawn, compliant.” “Playing, talking, giving special attention, trying to get the child to initiate contact with me… Get the child to feel safe to talk with me… From here I would initiate different kinds of contact, such as touching the child’s back, head… Testing the child to see how much she would take before she would pull away.” “Most of the time I would start by giving them a rub down. When I got them aroused, I would take the chance and place my hand on their penis. If they didn’t object, I would take this to mean it was ok” (Quotes from Conte et al., 1989) “Isolate them from other people. Physical isolation, closeness, contact are more important than verbal seduction.”

6 What Do We Know About Grooming in Sport?

7 edgehill.ac.uk How do Coaches See the Coach-Athlete Relationship? “I don’t really think of myself as having power over my athletes, I look at is as in a partnership … I tell them what we do, so we’re here at six, we finish at seven thirty, this is what we’re going to do … but as far as power, no I don’t look at it that way.” “I have to put across right from the start that I know what I’m doing at that particular session, erm … that they know what they’re doing, it’s a structured session, a safe environment. … I don’t think of it as having power though. I don’t think you should have power over your athletes, I don’t think there should be power as such.” (Lang, 2006) 7

8 edgehill.ac.uk “I wouldn’t know whether a coach is, erm, breaching any kind of policy … I don’t really know what I’m doing … I don’t know enough about what’s appropriate or not to know whether I’m doing it right or wrong, or, you know, what good practice is really.” “Is it, erm, a bad idea to be, urm, giving a lad a hug, or helping him put a plaster on. I don’t know, I don’t see a problem with it really but I don’t really know.” 8

9 edgehill.ac.uk “I do know of a couple of coaches who will take the children home and give them a lift in their car … but you keep it to yourself, I think it’s not my place to say … but is it? Maybe I should. It’s not a major issue though really, is it?” “ I’m not, erm… I’m not sure about the whole thing. I mean what’s wrong with driving a kid home, or hanging around with them after the session if their mum hasn’t turned up? … It happens to us all and there’s not much you can do about it. … It’s all got a bit, erm, over, a bit, you know, too much I think.” “Well I know I shouldn’t really, at least we’re told by the ASA not to, but... well, Johnny is a friend of my Billy and so it makes sense for me to take him training and then [Johnny’s mum or dad] brings them home. I can’t see what’s wrong with that meself.” 9

10 edgehill.ac.uk “If a child’s poorly they get out and they wrap themselves in the towel, or sometimes a child runs up to you and gives you a hug or if they fall over your instinct is to just go over and pick them up isn’t it, you know, urm, to help them? Well, I... I don’t have a problem with that. If I want to put them on my knee or give them a hug cos they, erm, they need that at that moment, well hell that’s fine I think.” “A lot of children if they can’t get something right in their stroke you might, erm, get hold of the child and go [manually] through the stroke and I’ll step in and do that, whereas lots of people won’t – they’ll sort of hold back on doing that, they’ll do everything else they can first before they step in and do that.” 10

11 edgehill.ac.uk “I don’t suppose you can always prevent yourself from falling in love can you really? … I suppose that [a sexual relationship between a coach and an athlete] has developed over the years … they’re individuals in their own right and can have relationships with whoever they want.” “People that have got similar interests in common might find themselves attracted to each other and as long as it’s not going to encroach on their coaching then I don’t see there’s a problem with that.” “I know one of the male coaches that’s on poolside with me and he’s 18 and he’s got swimmers that are probably 16, 17 … I’m thinking if one of his female swimmers, you know, if that … if he were to carry on a relationship with someone and they’re over the age of consent, and agreeing to it and everything’s fine, that’s OK.” “It depends on the age of the coach. … If they’re [the coach and the athlete] sort of the same age group … if you’re talking 20, 21 and they’re [the coach] in their late 20s it’s only like everyone else.” 11

12 edgehill.ac.uk Concluding Thoughts Grooming is a cumulative process (Brackenridge, 2001; Nielsen, 2001) Many behaviours/ actions that form part of the grooming process, particularly early in the process, are not in and of themselves illegal or singularly suggestive of potential abuse Any one action may be innocent OR part of the grooming process Context is everything! 12

13 Content of presentation 1.Athlete rights and quality of life are paramount 2.Prevalence of behavioral stressors in sport 3.Risk factors for sickness/stress/depression in sport 4.Risk factors for sexual abuse Jan Toftegaard Støckel 13

14 Social network Social competence Physical health Recognition Control Challenges Mastery Selfworth Self-accept Autonomy The quality of life puzzle Jan Toftegaard Støckel 14

15 The sporting process – the black box? Problems in society Social inclusion Treatment of lifestyle disease Learning difficulties First version May 12 2009 Sport Jan Toftegaard Støckel 15

16 Quality of life measures 1,700 Danish athletes Jan Toftegaard Støckel 16  95 pct. sport is all in all a positive experience  91 pct. increased self-confidence through sport  89 pct. got close friends through sport Current mental health status:  71 pct. high  21 pct. medium  8 pct. poor

17 Jan Toftegaard Støckel coach-athlete interaction Directly instruction related Expected Sometimes nescessary Indirectly instruction related Non-instruction related Power behaviour Verbal/physical advances Often normalized or accepted in sport 17 The critical thresshold

18 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 18

19 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 19 ExperienceB.value Premature competition debut+++ Lack of peer support during injury recovery++ Coach pressure++ Illness++ Lack of influence on training/competition++ Pressure to loose weight+ Isolated or ignored by coach for lack of discipline or performance+ Discriminated against by coach/sport entourage+ Coach-athlete intimate relationship+ Regression analysis for factors associated with stress/depression because of sport experiences

20 Jan Toftegaard Støckel Sub-conclusion Relationship dynamics are critical sources of stress The coach and/or sport entourage play a key role for administering exposure to stressors 20

21 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 21 Directly instruction related behaviour

22 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 22 Coach touches hand, arm or shoulder during instruction or conversation

23 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 23 Coach is showing more attention towards some athletes than others

24 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 24 In-directly instruction related behaviour

25 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 25 Coach offers special training session outside normal practise hours

26 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 26 Power behaviour

27 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 27 Use of physical training as punishment for lack of discipline

28 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 28 Coach isolate or ignore athlete during practise or competition due to lack of discipline or performance

29 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 29 Coach tell athlete off during intense competition

30 Jan Toftegaard Støckel Verbal/physical advances 30

31 Intimate coach–athlete relationship Jan Toftegaard Støckel 31 children-12 years0,6 % youth13-17 years8,2 % adult18 +28,9 %

32 Jan Toftegaard Støckel Intimate coach-athlete relationship is strongly associated with coach power behaviour and alcohol consumption No or little athlete influence Physical punishments through intense training regimes Coach pressure Isolating/ignoring athlete 32

33 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 33 Coach out socially drinking with athletes

34 Jan Toftegaard Støckel Other types of non-instruction related coach behaviour <5 pct. experience harassment based on: –Religion –Etnicity –Sexual orientation 34

35 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 35 Coach openly flirts with an athlete

36 Jan Toftegaard Støckel 36 Coach stares at athletes breasts or buttucks

37 References Brackenridge, C. H. (1997) Researching Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport. In: Clarke, G. & Humberstone, B. (eds.) Researching Women in Sport. London, Macmillan,pp.126-141. Brackenridge, C. H. (2001) Spoilsports: Understanding Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport. London, Routledge. Brackenridge, C. & Fasting, K. (2005) The Grooming Process in Sport. Auto/Biography. 13, pp.33-52. Bringer, J., Brackenridge, C.H. & Johnston, L.H. (2002) Defining Appropriateness in Coach-Athlete Relationships. Journal of Sexual Aggression. 8, pp.83-98. Conte, J. Wolf, S. & Smith, T. (1989) What Sexual Offenders Tell Us About Prevention Strategies. Child Abuse and Neglect. 13, pp.293-311. Elliot, M., Browne, K. & Kilcoyne, J. (1995) Child Abuse Prevention: What Offenders Tell Us. Child Abuse and Neglect. 19, pp.579-586. Finkelhor, D. (1984) Child Sexual Abuse: New Theory and Research. New York, Free Press. Home Office (2010) Keeping Children Safe: Your Right to Ask – Information to Help You Keep Your Child Safe from Sexual Abuse. London, Home Office. Lang, M. (2009) Swimming in the Panopticon: An Exploration of Good Practice and Child Protection in Competitive Youth Swimming. Unpublished PhD thesis, Leeds Metropolitan University. Lang, M. (2010) Swimming Coaches’ Perceptions of Appropriate and Inappropriate Behaviours. Unpublished Masters thesis, Leeds Metropolitan University. Leberg, E. (1997) Understanding Child Molesters: Taking Charge. London, Sage. Toftegaard Nielsen, J. (2001) The Forbidden Zone: Intimacy, Sexual Relations and Misconduct in the Relationship Between Coaches and Athletes. International Review for the Sociology of Sport. 36, pp.165-182. Salter, A. C. (1995) Transforming Trauma.: A Guide to Understanding and Treating Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. London, Sage. Wyre, R. (2000) Home Truths about Child Sexual Abuse: A Reader. London, Routledge.


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