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The vast majority of B.C. sports organizations believe sport bullying is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
A six-week survey conducted last fall by ViaSport, the non-profit agency tasked by the provincial government to develop amateur sport in B.C., found that 94 per cent of the surveyed groups felt this way.
Michelle Tice, director of communications at ViaSport, said sport bullying can take many forms, not just between players.
“It can be two board members of a sport organization, it can be a parent and a child, it can be a coach and a child,” Tice told The Richmond Sentinel Monday.
The survey also found:
55 per cent of B.C. sports organizations surveyed say they know of athletes who have dropped out of sport because of bullying
44 per cent of B.C. sports organizations surveyed say they know of officials, coaches, managers, board members and other volunteers who left a sport due to bullying.
Launched in time for Pink Shirt Day last week, the ViaSport initiative has drawn many high-profile athletes to speak out about the issue, including Vancouver Canucks’ Trevor Linden, Vancouver Whitecaps’ Carl Valentine, and Olympic swimming medalist Brent Hayden.
ViaSport is urging sports organizations and individuals to pledge their commitment to erase bullying in sport.
A cultural change is needed, Tice said, and ViaSport is providing organizations with the resources to do that. That includes education and training resources, bullying and harassment policies for organizations to implement, and reporting mechanisms for dealing with cases of harassment and abuse.
Angus Reid, a former BC Lion and long-time Richmond resident, said if the goal is to try to help children grow up, that needs to be the focus that organizations regularly remind themselves.
While he’s been fortunate of not having too many personal tales to tell about bullying, Reid said it’s certainly something he’s seen.
The fact people are talking about bullying in sports is advancing the issue.
“Lots of these dark secrets aren’t as hidden as they used to be,” he said.
He said placing children in high-stress situations will serve them well when they get older. But the key is how to best prepare them for times when they will encounter failure and setbacks as an adult.