What To Do In Cases of Abuse

While sport is often considered to be a safe, healthy environment that contributes to the positive development of young people, it is also an area where violence can manifest itself in various ways, including sexual assault.

“The studies we currently have at our disposal show that between two and eight per cent of minor age athletes are victims of sexual abuse within the context of sport,” states a report on Sexual Abuse of Young People in Sport by the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec.  “To date, available statistics have shown that most of the victims of sexual abuse in sport are young female athletes, although a large proportion of boys are also victimized.

“Researchers have noted that young people who have been sexually abused in the context of sport often have low self-esteem, strained relationships with their parents, and eating disorders. In addition, they are often high performance athletes.”

It is essential to not tolerate behaviour in sport that would be considered unacceptable in other contexts, such as day-care centres or schools, continues the report.

“Parents can also play a role in prevention by finding out what preventative measures are in place in the organization their child attends and by choosing sports organizations that give priority to the well-being of young people.” 

The decision to report to law enforcement is entirely yours, states Erinn Robinson, director of media relations, Rape, Abuse & Incest Network (RAINN). 

“Some survivors say that reporting and seeking justice helped them recover and regain a sense of control over their lives,” says Robinson. “Understanding how to report and learning more about the experience can take away some of the unknowns and help you feel more prepared.”

RAINN notes several options for reporting sexual assault:

  • Call 911. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911. Help will come to you, wherever you are.
  • Contact the local police department. Call the direct line of your local police station or visit the station in person. If you are on a college campus you may also be able to contact campus-based law enforcement.
  • Visit a medical center. If you are being treated for injuries resulting from sexual assault, tell a medical professional that you wish to report the crime. You can also choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam. 

To learn more about the options in your area of the United States, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673). You’ll be connected to a staff member from a local sexual assault service provider who will walk you through the process of getting help and reporting to law enforcement at your own pace.

In most areas, there are specific law enforcement officers who are trained to interact with sexual assault survivors. Service providers can connect you to these officers, and might also send a trained advocate to accompany you through the reporting process.

There is no limitation on when a victim can report a crime to police, notes information from RAINN. However, in many states, there is a limitation on when charges can be filed and a case can be prosecuted. This is called the statute of limitations and varies by state, type of crime, age of the victim, and various other factors. 

Anyone affected by sexual assault, whether it happened to you or someone you care about, can find support on the National Sexual Assault Hotline. You can also visit to receive support via confidential online chat.

For more information on the telephone and online hotlines, visit and

Trained counsellors with Childhelp are available to talk through child abuse situations. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline can be contacted in the United States or Canada by telephone, texting or online chat. The number is 1-800-4-A-CHILD )1-800-422-4453. Further information, and online chat, is available at

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7 e-mental health service offering free, confidential support to young people in English and French. The Peer-to-Peer Community at Kids Help Phone is a bilingual, online, mental health support forum available across Canada. In the community, youth can anonymously share their personal experiences, offer inspiration and ask questions to connect, comfort and cheer each other on.

To contact Kids Help Phone, call 1-800-668-6868, visit, text CONNECT to 686868 or connect through Facebook Messenger at If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, contact 911 or the emergency services in your area right away.

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Signs Your Player is Possibly Being Abused

It will never happen to my kid … until it does.

Child abuse occurs at every socio-economic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all regions and at all levels of education. Studies indicate that 40 to 50 per cent of athletes have experienced anything from mild harassment to severe abuse, according to Childhelp.

What if my child doesn’t tell me that they are being abused? Are there indicators I should be looking out for in my kid’s behaviour?

The Childhelp Speak Up Be Safe for Athletes prevention education program notes indicators of possible abuse in sports include, but are not limited to, missing practices, illness, loss of interest, withdrawal, and a child performing significantly below his or her abilities. 

“Look for signs of disengagement in young people,” Daphne Young, chief communications officer at Childhelp, said. “They used to be so excited about their sport and couldn’t wait to go to practice and now they’re pulling back or want to quit.

“Watch for slippage in grades, change in physicality, whether they’re covering up more, eating more, or starving themselves. There could be a withdrawal or withholding of engagement or you may see the flip side and see a child exuberantly happy, super engaged, super thrilled and very secretive because there’s a new love in their life, not understanding that this could be an older person taking advantage.

“Watch for dramatic shifts in behaviour and try to ensure that you ask questions without being accusatory.”

Young says Speak Up Be Safe for Athletes was started because there was a specific need for it.

“This is a specialized audience and it needs its own niche prevention because we know that predators are going to crystalize around places where they have access to children and coaches, I believe, are second only to educators in gaining that close relationship and occasionally abusing it,” Young said. 

In October, Childhelp will be launching a specialty version of their hotline, called the Courage First Athletes Help Line, in partnership with the Foundation for Global Sports Development, to help protect children in sports.

Counsellors working the hotline will be specially trained to deal with issues in youth athletics. In the meantime, the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline can be contacted in the United States or Canada by telephone, texting or online chat. The number is 1-800-4-A-CHILD ) 1-800-422-4453. Further information, and online chat, is available at

It’s not always easy to spot sexual abuse because perpetrators often take steps to hide their actions, says Erinn Robinson, director of media relations, Rape, Abuse & Incest Network (RAINN).

The most important thing to keep in mind when looking for signs of child sexual abuse is to keep an eye on sudden changes in your child’s behaviour, says Robinson.

“Trust your gut and don’t ignore your feelings if something seems off. If a child tells you that someone makes them uncomfortable, even if they can’t tell you anything specific, listen.”

RAINN lists the following as warning signs to watch for:

Physical Signs

Behavioral Signs

  • Excessive talk about or knowledge of sexual topics
  • Keeping secrets or not talking as much as usual
  • Not wanting to be left alone with certain people or being afraid to be away from primary caregivers, especially if this is a new behavior
  • Regressive behaviors or resuming behaviors they had grown out of, such as thumb sucking or bedwetting
  • Overly compliant behavior
  • Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for the child’s age
  • Spending an unusual amount of time alone
  • Trying to avoid removing clothing to change or bathe

Emotional Signs

  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in mood or personality, such as increased aggression
  • Decrease in confidence or self-image
  • Excessive worry or fearfulness
  • Increase in unexplained health problems such as stomach aches and headaches
  • Loss or decrease in interest in school, activities, and friends
  • Nightmares or fear of being alone at night
  • Self-harming behaviors

Canada’s Kids Help Phone offers tips on what to do if a young person comes to you to discuss an abusive situation.

These tips include listening without judgment and keeping the line of communication open by letting the young person know they can talk to you about anything and staying calm. If a young person discloses a potentially harmful situation to you, get help for them right away. If they are in immediate danger, call 911 or the emergency services in your area. You may also have a duty to report child abuse or neglect to your local child protection services. 

Kids Help Phone is a resource that can connect young people with crisis responders. To contact Kids Help Phone, call 1-800-668-6868, visit, text CONNECT to 686868 or connect through Facebook Messenger at 

 RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline 800-656-HOPE (4673) connects callers in the United States with trained staff members from sexual assault service providers in their area and connects to one-on-one chats with trained RAINN support specialists 24/7.

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How to Spot A Possible Predator At The Rink

It is time to talk about something uncomfortable and often inconceivable — sexual abuse in minor hockey.

Keeping children safe can be challenging because many perpetrators who sexually abuse children are often in positions of trust. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest Network (RAINN), 93% of child sexual assault victims know the perpetrator. 

The difficult part is these abusers often blend in and are often impossible to spot until it is too late.

For example, the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec, in a report on Sexual Abuse of Young People in Sport, states that an analysis of 159 cases of sexual abuse in sport reported in the print media revealed that the perpetrators of the abuse were coaches, teachers and instructors in 98% of the cases.

So are there any signs that a coach or trainer may be a predator?

RAINN advises to be cautious of an adult who spends time with children and exhibits the following behaviours:

  • Does not respect boundaries or listen when someone tells them no
  • Engages in touching that a child or child’s parents/guardians have indicated is unwanted
  • Tries to be a child’s friend rather than filling an adult role in the child’s life
  • Does not seem to have age-appropriate relationships
  • Talks with children about their personal problems or relationships
  • Spends time alone with children outside of their role in the child’s life or makes up excuses to be alone with the child
  • Expresses unusual interest in child’s sexual development, such as commenting on sexual characteristics or sexualizing normal behaviors
  • Gives a child gifts without occasion or reason
  • Spends a lot of time with your child or another child you know
  • Restricts a child’s access to other adults

NHLPA member and Boston Bruins great Patrice Bergeron has talked about the importance of reaching out.

“Sometimes you don’t want to share things with those you are closest to, your parents, siblings or friends,” Bergeron said through a Kids Help Phone statement. “I think having someone to hear you out, someone who is there for you and understands what you’re going through, that’s very important. It’s not easy to talk and ask for support, but people are always there to help you.”

Young people in the United States who need help processing an abusive relationship can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) to be connected to a staff member from a local sexual assault service provider who will walk them through the process of getting the help they need.

Contacting a hotline to discuss concerns or ask questions can be done by means of a telephone call, text or online chat.

“What we have discovered for example, with texting, is that we got way more young women who were more comfortable texting us than we expected, and with chat we discovered that a lot more gender fluid children would feel comfortable talking to us via chat,” says Daphne Young, chief communications officer at Childhelp. “So, we’ve really changed through technology for young people in the modes that they’re most comfortable with.”

Young cautions children and teens to look for “that icky feeling in your stomach” where you may not have words for it but the actions that someone takes makes you feel awkward, weird, or uncomfortable.

“You probably feel completely alone in this moment, like you’ve done something wrong or brought this on yourself,” Young says, appealing to the victims of abuse who are hesitant to seek help. “What you don’t realize is that usually a predator has hundreds of victims in a lifetime, if not more, and so the step you take to seek help not only will keep you safe but it will potentially align you with others who have come forward.

“The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD, 1-800-422-4453) is completely anonymous. No one can find you. No one can do a reverse search or force you to take any action. They’re just going to give you every resource possible, all the support you need, therapeutic opportunities, people to talk to who will back you up in your community, and anything you need to help you through the process. So, I would say, just make the call, or text, or chat. If you don’t want anyone else to hear then give is a text message and let us know and we’ll take care of you.”

Many communities have sexual assault or crisis lines that allow people to talk to someone about what they’re feeling. You can also talk to family, friends, teachers, counsellors or someone else you trust.

Canada’s Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) notes the following as some of the ways to identify an adult who is safe to talk to:

  • Thoughtful: The person actively listens to you and believes you when you tell them something.
  • Trustworthy: The person is dependable, a confidant and someone you feel comfortable talking to.
  • Respectful: The person is mindful and considerate of your feelings and your boundaries.
  • Helpful: The person provides guidance and helps you find solutions to problems.
  • Caring: The person does what’s best for you, puts you first and cares about your mental and emotional wellbeing and physical safety.

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