Sexual Assault found in Canadian Youth Sports

      For those of you who are about to read this article please be aware that it contains information about sexual assault and sexual offenders, and may be triggering to some people.

      The CBC news in Canada has been researching a disturbing trend with youth sports over the past 20 years in Canada. A staggering amount of youth coaches from 1998 to 2018 have been convicted or involved in sexual offenses. The current estimated number at this time is 222 coaches, the majority being men making up 213 of the convictions. Only 9 convictions are related to female coaches so far. The current estimated number of victims is a heartbreaking 600 or more.

      The problem is so widespread throughout the entire system as well with convictions coming from every type of sport. The highest amount of convictions come from hockey with 59 convictions and over 80 charges. Soccer has the second highest conviction rate with 27 convictions and 40 charges. This problem, however, goes past the more popular sports, with even sports like badminton and archery having charges reported. The range of sports is everything from bowling, weightlifting, to sailing.

      The types of charges these coaches are involved with have the same amount of variety,  everything from sexual assault, child luring, sexual exploitation and more.

      This problem has clearly been building for many years within the sports system. According to Sandra Kirby, Olympic rower and University of Winnipeg sociology professor, “sexual abuse is a very under-reported crime,” and she estimates there could be thousands of other cases where no one has come forward. Sport organizations across Canada can’t ignore these findings, and there needs to be “massive reform across the sport system” to ensure every child who participates in sports has a safe experience.

      “There are people who, even with all of the information out in the press now, simply don’t get it. They don’t get the magnitude of the problem,” Kirby said.

      The questions is what does Canada do now to protect their youth? Canada is currently working on new protocol and training within its sports system. Many people within the system are calling for transparency on investigations, and of coaches conduct in general, calling for individual sports organizations to post all information on websites. A meeting is scheduled to be held between the Canadian Olympic, Paralympics committees and the minister of sports in the hopes that they will start to rectify this dire problem.

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