What you need to know.
By Dar Forsythe, HSSCS, PTS.
Coaching Director, Baseball Presqu’ile.
You have taken the step to enroll your child in a sport or activity. You provide the time to shop for his/her equipment, and prepare him/her for the start of the season. Your enthusiastic anticipation of participating as a spectator in your child’s activity grows with each passing day as you patiently wait for that first game, but have you done your due diligence to ensure your child’s complete safety?
Whether your child is new to sports or an old hand, they are children and we, as parents, need to be aware of all potential hazards that may arise when participating in any activity. Unfortunately, in any adult led event you could be placing your child at risk. Some organizations have taken the initiative to perform background checks of potential coaches/leaders, however, background checks are costly and not all organizations are willing to absorb the costs.
In Canada, we have a national coaching program, the NCCP that certifies coaches under one umbrella. The program is excellent in providing coaches with the tools necessary to coach athletes. One of their greatest assets is their ‘making ethical decisions module’ which allows coaches the knowledge to deal with situations that may arise of an ethical nature but it fails in one aspect, acquiring background information on the leader that will be working with your children and his ability to employ ethical decisions. This dilemma can easily be averted by incorporating a background check with each certification.
You wouldn’t place your child in a daycare with a poor reputation, so why place your child in the care of someone you have little or no knowledge of?
What should you, as a parent, do?
The first thing you can and should do is inquire information of any background checks that may have been performed. Next you can solicit information about the coach from the associated organization. Familiarize yourself with the coach; request a meeting with him/her, ask questions like, how long he/she has been coaching, do they have children, or any question that will put you at ease. Don’t use the coach as a babysitter. Make certain that you, a trusted family member, or friend is available to drop off and pick up your child for their events. If your child is old enough to be left at events you may want to have a talk with them about inappropriate touching, comments, or the likes and that they should inform you if a situation has made them uncomfortable.
As a member of IYCA and a high level coach, I have been investigated and it didn’t hurt one bit!