Coaching for Change
After their parents, sports coaches have a major influence on many children’s lives. In the difficult arena of gender-based violence, it’s the coaches who need coaching. Enter “Coaching for Change,” a new program launched in Minnesota to provide athletics coaches with information and skills to understand and better respond to sexual assault, sexual harassment, teen dating violence and domestic violence that their young athletes might be experiencing. It then explores the social norms and messaging that help to create this environment of harm. It is through courageous conversations and teachable moments that coaches can positively influence boys and girls and can cultivate a team environment that supports gender equity and respect. The high school version of Coaching for Change was introduced by the Minnesota State High School League in August 2014 and is now a mandated training for Minnesota’s high school coaches—all 25,000 of them.
A parallel Coaching for Change training for coaches involved with community athletics programs was released this April. This training focuses on coaches working with 10-to-14 year-olds and utilizes interactive scenarios and skills development appropriate for that age group.
Both trainings take approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete. The first 10 minutes of each is similar. The differences begin to appear in the interactive scenarios and proactive instructions for coaches to build the team culture of gender equity and mutual respect. Those scenarios and planning steps relate specifically to the high school or community athletics environment in which the coach is working.
Coaches also learn to recognize “red flags” some young people might be exhibiting, perhaps indicating their having been exposed to abusive behavior at home or in a relationship. Coaches are “coached” on how best to respond if the young athletes raise concerns or disclose actual incidences of abuse. In this way, coaches can appropriately attend to their individual and institutional responsibilities to both respect children and keep them safe. In incidences where harm has occurred, even one adult providing caring support—and appropriate referrals—can dramatically increase that child’s capability to heal from the trauma.
Coaching for Change is housed on the Men as Peacemakers website (http://www.menaspeacemakers.org/coachingforchange/) which includes their IMPACT program, designed to move community athletics into the next level of organizational practice that supports the goals and objectives of the training. Technical assistance is also available.
Athletics has a profound influence on boys and girls, and our culture. Many adults cite their coaches as the most significant influence on their childhoods, second only to their mothers and/or fathers.
Helping coaches to understand and implement strategies that positively influence the lives of our children will support young athletes develop the character and understanding necessary not just to have winning seasons but to lead successful and happy lives.
The Coaching for Change training is free. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chuck Derry is director of the Gender Violence Institute (www.genderviolenceinstitute.org) Clearwater Minnesota, which he cofounded with Rose Thelen. He is a founding member of the North American MenEngage Network (NAMEN) and a member of the MenEngage Global Alliance’s board of directors. He developed the Coaching for Change training in partnership with Ed Heisler of Men as Peacemakers in Duluth, Minn., Donna McDonald from the Domestic/Sexual Violence Coalition of Anoka County, Minn., and Jody Redman, associate director of the Minnesota State High School League. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Kenya Gets Tough on Sexually Abusive Teachers
Kenya’s High Court has ruled that the nation’s schools are constitutionally liable for sexual abuse committed against their students by teachers. The ruling was in response to the case of two female students who had been sexually assaulted by their teacher, Astarikoh Henry Amkoah
In the High Court’s official report, Judge Mumbi Ngugi wrote, “It’s important to send the message that any teacher who violates his duty… who abuses the trust of parents who leave their vulnerable children in his charge, and who turns, like a wolf, against them, will be held civilly liable.” (Ngugi acknowledged using male pronouns in the report because, he said, it is usually men who commit sexual assault.) The ruling declares that the Teacher’s Service Commission, Kenya’s primary teachers’ union, failed to appropriately handle the allegations and requires them to institute stricter policies for handling sexual assault allegations. It also requires the government to make financial reparations to the two victims.
While the ruling has widely been seen as a victory for women’s and girls’ rights, the Center for Reproductive Rights stresses that sexual abuse is still common in Kenyan schools and continues to advocate for law and policy reform. Equality Now, an international NGO that works “for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls around the world,” has launched the #JusticeForGirls campaign, among similar initiatives by other groups throughout Africa and the rest of the world, to end systemic violence against adolescent girls—particularly sexual violence in schools, fear of which prevents many girls around the world from obtaining an education.
Trans Woman, ACLU Sue over Sex Discrimination
A transgender woman fired because of her gender transition can sue her former employer for sex discrimination, a district court judge has ruled.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas denied H&H Electric’s motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Patricia Dawson, a transgender woman and licensed electrician in Arkansas, who was fired by the company after she transitioned from male to female. Dawson’s gender transition was part of her treatment for gender dysphoria. Dawson’s claim asserts that H&H Electric violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by firing her because of her sex and because she was perceived to fail to conform to sex stereotypes.
“The court today recognized that what Patricia Dawson faced was sex discrimination,” said Ria Tabacco Mar, attorney in the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Patricia Dawson will now be able to have her day in court to correct the injustice of being fired simply because of who she is.”
Dawson was an electrical apprentice at H&H for four years. When she told her boss that she was transgender, she was forced to use her male birth name at work, even though she legally changed her name to Patricia, and was told not to discuss her transition with coworkers.
After Dawson started wearing makeup and more traditionally feminine clothes, she was fired. Her boss told her she did great work, but was “too much of a distraction.” The case is heading to a trial later this year. More information about this case is available at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/lesbian-and-gay-rights/dawson-v-h-h-electric-inc.
Patriots Say No to Violence
Professional sports teams are beginning to step up in the fight against sexual assault and domestic violence. The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, along with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, announced in September they would be spending $1.5 million on gender-based violence prevention. Their efforts include a multiyear grant to Jane Doe Inc. (JDI), the Massachusetts coalition against sexual assault, which will be used to support JDI’s new Institute for Safety and Justice.
Kraft and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation will also be teaming up with the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, to launch an initiative called “Game Change: The Patriots Anti-Violence Partnership,” which will train high school students in violence prevention. Healey, who will be heading the initiative, will be partnering with Northeastern University’s Mentors in Violence Prevention program, which uses a model of violence-prevention training pioneered more than 20 years ago.
In light of recent high-profile violence cases in professional sports, including the domestic violence charges against former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice, both educators and the NFL believe it’s all the more important for mainstream sports organizations to use their wide social reach to educate men and boys about violence prevention, and set better examples of healthy and nonviolent masculinity.
Advocates for Campus Safety
Since working with young men, and addressing unhealthy expressions of masculinities at colleges and universities across the U.S. is a core part of violence prevention campaigns, it made sense that an organization would emerge to serve as a national clearinghouse. The Campus Advocates & Prevention Professionals Association (CAPPA) was created by and for campus-based professionals who work to educate their campuses and colleagues about interpersonal/gender-based violence in all its forms and advocate for and support students who have been affected by dating/domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
The group will provide expertise on stalking, dating/ domestic violence, and sexual assault/harassment prevention and response on college and university campuses, and will work to elevate the national dialogue on these pressing topics. CAPPA also will provide a hub for discussions of best practices, challenges, and opportunities to further professionalize the field. Members will have access to a members-only listserv, private Facebook group, as well as evolving opportunities related to membership, networking, training, legislative advocacy, research and practice, professional standards, and communications. To learn more about CAPPA, visit www.nationalcappa.org or contact CAPPA co-facilitators, Jill Dunlap and LB Klein at firstname.lastname@example.org or (872) 240-2270. There is currently no cost for membership. Supporters can “like” their Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/nationalcappa) or follow them on Twitter (@NationalCAPPA)
Support Coming for the New Dad?
A recent study called “The New Dad” found that 89 percent of U.S. men ranked paternity leave as “important,” the Washington Post reported recently. That number varied by generation: 77 percent of Baby Boomers and 88 percent of Gen X fathers said the benefit should be a priority, compared to 93 percent of Millennials.
Millennials, now entering their thirties, are also more likely than their predecessors to put family obligations ahead of job duties, the newspaper said.
“Today’s young men, they assume that their wives are going to work outside the home,” said sociologist Michael Kimmel, a member of Voice Male’s national advisory board. “They also assume they’re going to be amazing dads. They’re going to be very involved with their kids.” Workplaces, he says, should adapt to the times to stay competitive.
Only 10 to 15 percent of American employers, however, offer paid paternity leave. Research shows that American dads rarely take more than two weeks off. (The United States provides no paid paternity leave. Sweden, in comparison, offers 60 days to fathers. Still, only about a quarter of dads there use the benefit.) To read the full new dad study go to http://www.thenewdad.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/BCCWF_The_New_Dad_2014_FINAL.157170735.pdf
Can Involved Dads Have it All?
A new study published by the Harvard Business School not surprisingly reveals top management at a global consulting business say they have a “gender problem.” Gender and Work: Challenging Conventional Wisdom found that although the firm offers generous family-friendly policies, only 10 percent of partners were women, compared with 40 percent of junior associates, according to the Washington Post.
Female employees, the study revealed, were much more likely to take family leave and sick days than male employees. One finding about men, specifically, surprised the company, the Post reported: an equal number of men and women had left in the preceding three years. Men said they quit because of the long hours. They wanted to take advantage of the family-friendly policies, researchers noted, but buckled under pressure to keep working and “suffer in silence.” This mentality, the authors concluded, hurts everyone. The workplace will remain gender unequal, they said, until men believe they have cultural permission to spend time with their kids.
One in Five Female Students Assaulted
More than 20 percent of female undergraduates at some two dozen prominent universities reported they were victims of sexual assault and misconduct, echoing findings elsewhere, according to one of the largest studies ever of college sexual violence. Earlier this fall, the Washington Post reported results from the Association of American Universities’ (AAU) survey asking students at 27 universities about their experiences with sexual assault and sexual misconduct, drawing responses from more than 150,000 students.
While researchers said the possibility of an overstated victimization rate was possible—there was evidence hundreds of thousands of students who were less likely to have suffered an assault ignored the electronic questionnaire—the results add to growing indications that sexual assault is disturbingly commonplace at colleges and universities, especially among undergraduates living on their own for the first time, the Post reported.
Though colleges already are on high alert to the problem—in part because of a White House task force formed last year to combat it— the survey findings underscore the seriousness and breadth of sexual assault’s impact, and how difficult it will be to curb it. All the Ivy League schools took part except Princeton University.
The survey, conducted by the social science firm Westat, asked about individual experiences with sexual assault as well as perceptions on campus about the issue. Nearly all students at the 27 schools were canvassed in April and May, with confidentiality guaranteed. Nineteen percent responded, a lower rate than the survey team had hoped to attain.
The AAU survey provides a wealth of insights about the prevalence of specific types of assault at a cross-section of public and private research universities; among them was the stark finding that 11 percent of female undergraduates said they experienced incidents of penetration that fit the criminal definitions for rape or sodomy, half of them saying it happened by force. Others said they were victims of unwanted touching or kissing that could be defined as sexual battery.
“The leaders of our universities are deeply concerned about the impact of these issues on their students,” Hunter Rawlings, the AAU’s president, said. “Their participation in this and other climate surveys is an important part of their efforts to combat sexual assault.”