Guardian article on sexual abuse in figure skating

wickedwitch

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“With coaches, you can put barriers in every stage, so concepts of recruitment, of background checks, and making education. All those, in theory, could apply to athletes but they don’t really apply to athletes,” says Daniel Rhind, a professor at Loughborough University whose research is primarily focused on safeguarding children in sport. “You can’t say, ‘Don’t socialize together, don’t be alone together’... In reality, athletes are in training camps in hotels, what have you. It’s going to be very hard for them to implement such policies.”

....

Pairs skating isn’t especially popular in the United States – the US hasn’t experienced the success in the discipline as it has in singles skating and ice dance – so you’d be forgiven for not having heard of Coughlin until his death made headlines. But Coughlin was a big deal in the world of American pairs skating. He was skilled, tall and charismatic. More importantly Coughlin was, as a man, a rare commodity in a discipline where female skaters struggle to find partners, a state of affairs due, in part, to both external and internalized homophobia. “For pairs girls, there are 100 girls for every one guy who wants a partner,” Jessica Crenshaw, a pairs skater who competed for Greece, told the New York Times in 2010. “To be able to find a partner and to be able to compete in Europeans and go to worlds, it’s actually almost a miracle.”

...

She adds: “I definitely didn’t know what to do.” And it’s unlikely that anyone in Kai’s social circle would have been able to help. Her friends were mostly other skaters who might be too afraid to say or do anything that could jeopardize their careers. “Everything is kind of in play for you to not say anything,” Rhind says. “It’s a negative sweet spot.”

Then again, some of Kai’s teammates may not have necessarily understood how problematic Coughlin’s behavior was. “A lot of athletes are homeschooled or don’t have traditional educational experiences. So your social pool is limited to the kids at your rink, which makes it a very small social pool,” Wagner says. “You go to skating parties and you are really young and there are guys there a lot older and can even legally drink at the same party. And so it’s just this really odd social environment that these athletes find themselves in, which leads to this crazy power imbalance.”

...

The solution, if there even is one, is not to ban relationships between partners who are of legal age and can consent. “Some of these topics that are tougher are addressed in some of the training that’s available,” says Dan Hill, a spokesperson for the US Center for SafeSport. “From a policy standpoint, it’s really hard to ... regulate romance. But you can certainly provide guidelines as to what is and isn’t appropriate.” But educating people about those guidelines is expensive. According to Hill, the Department of Justice gave the Center a three-year grant, totaling $2.5m for education and outreach.

...

The structural realities of the sport aren’t, in and of themselves, evil. For example, that small women are common is certainly an aesthetic preference, to be sure, but it’s also a result of gravity – a lighter skater is easier for her partner to lift. And the scarcity of men in the sport, can’t be helped through policy and enforcement. But it’s important to be aware of these structural problems and the potential they create for abuse.

ETA: This is one of the best articles I've read on the subject. It touches on a lot of the subjects that we've discussed on FSU that have been somewhat overlooked in mainstream articles.
 

barbk

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Fascinating article -- thanks for posting it. This was the part that particularly spoke to me:

"Like Namiotka, Jada Kai, a singles skater who performed under the name Melissa Bulanhagui and represented both the US and the Philippines, remembers Coughlin grooming young female skaters at the Delaware rink where they both trained, including her. Kai trained at the same Delaware rink as Coughlin and Namiotka, and was between the ages of 14 and 18 during this period; Coughlin was five years her senior and four years older than Namiotka. “John was always, like, really the charismatic type. He was everyone’s friend,” Kai recalls. According to Kai, the grooming started with very small moves, Coughlin would “be inappropriate and like stroke our legs when no one was looking and stroke our arms.” She says that he would also send the younger girls at the rink flirtatious texts. “There were a couple of occasions where he would call me in the middle of the night,” Kai says. “I was like 15 at the time. He would be just like, ‘Oh my god, you wear all black in your tight yoga pants and v-neck shirt.’”

What Kai describes sounds similar to a report in USA Today last week about Morgan Cipres, one half of the 2018 world championship bronze medal winning French pair. The report alleges that Cipres, who trains in Florida, sent a 13-year-old skater at the rink two photos of his penis. Cipres told USA Today that “I have nothing to say about this allegation”.

Once, Coughlin came over to Kai’s home to watch a movie. “For some reason that was OK with my parents,” Kai says. With her mother in the other room, Coughlin started to touch her. “He just put his hand on my leg and then just started like, stroking his hand on my inner thigh. Just like started petting me during this movie.”

She adds: “I definitely didn’t know what to do.” And it’s unlikely that anyone in Kai’s social circle would have been able to help. Her friends were mostly other skaters who might be too afraid to say or do anything that could jeopardize their careers. “Everything is kind of in play for you to not say anything,” Rhind says. “It’s a negative sweet spot.”"
 

bethy135

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ETA: This is one of the best articles I've read on the subject. It touches on a lot of the subjects that we've discussed on FSU that have been somewhat overlooked in mainstream articles.

My thoughts exactly. Chilling and accurate.
 

Perky Shae Lynn

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It is chilling. I can't come up with a better description. When I was 13, my physics teacher developed a "crush" on me. On my fancy boarding school trip he would come into my hotel room, sit on the bed, and tell fascinating stories. Also, tell me how beautiful and special I was. No touching. Just words. He was a married 41 year old man. I thought he was strange. I didn't understand that he was a PEDOPHILE. My hope is that girls and boys today know enough to be able to tell the difference. But still maintain their belief that people are ultimately good.
 

DreamSkates

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US Figure Skating should have special sessions for coaches, all of them, or at least required videos on this subject. Enough is enough! They could include "how you will get caught" and to every skater registered, and every official in a club, the same information about what is or not acceptable and how to report same and also some way to protect skaters so they can continue in the sport they love and and have worked so hard to be a part of.
 

Arwen17

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But still maintain their belief that people are ultimately good.

I was raised that most people are ultimately up to no good in most cases because ALL humans have sinned. I wasn't raised to be cripplingly paranoid at all times, but I was raised to be wary and alert, to take everything with a grain of salt, to use your brain and not your emotions to determine a situation. I was told Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were not real from Day One, but that there was nothing wrong with enjoying a cartoon on TV or having fun with presents/candies on the holidays. I also watched a lot of crime shows on TV at a young age, but that's just because I found forensic science really fascinating, not because someone forced me to. I also watched a lot of ASPCA animal cruelty episodes on Animal Planet growing up. (As an adult, I've been vegan for the past 6 years.) So although I had a very loving family, I was very aware outside of my loving family environment was a world of cruelty, perversity, and murder (that many, many people did not share my family's values or behaviors), and for no reason other than the fact the animal or child or woman was a convenient target for the killer/abuser.

I think we could be more direct in making sure children and parents are more suspicious and less coddled.
 

PRlady

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I'm torn on what children should know. I was a really voracious reader as a child and learned things from books that I couldn't put into context. But somewhere along the line I must have learned about the possibility of the "funny uncle" because, one day, a real funny uncle (married to my late father's sister) invited me to lay down next to him on his bed when we were visiting. I said no and made tracks, I must have been 8 or 9 at the time.

For kids who are NOT reading "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex" because some adult incautiously left it around, I do recommend telling them early what touching is not allowed and how to tell parents if something goes wrong. But the most important thing is empowering kids against adults who want to abuse them, not just sexually. That goes for bullying teachers as well (I had a few.) So without telling kids that the world is a tough place with a lot of bad people, I would emphasize how to stand up for oneself, politely in most cases and impolitely if necessary.

I'm still not sure that would have helped some of the skater victims, who were at the wrong end of power equations.
 

maatTheViking

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Not touching is definitely taught to kids; in school and other places, but I still feel it’s so hard for kids to speak up.

I think though there is a difference between the issue concerning actual children (eg below the age of 13) and teenager and young adults.

when you’re 13 or 15 an adult’s romantic interest might seem exciting at first, even if it is abusive. Kids at this age might not think of themselves as kids. And it’s such a fine line too - maybe it’s fine for a 17 year old to date a 21 year old. Maybe it isn’t. And it’s hard to know the difference.

I think the article touches on these issues really well. It’s a great article. Because in skating, as Wagner and Kai says, the power imbalance is multiplied. There are also some nuanced discussion around how it’s not really possible to separate kids and adults, or prevent romantic relationships. I really think education is key and as Wagner mentions, making sure skaters are not isolated in the skating world.

lots of quotes that tells how deep the issues are - and also how it’s not easy to fix. very well written.
 

Tinami Amori

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I'm torn on what children should know. I was a really voracious reader as a child and learned things from books that I couldn't put into context. But somewhere along the line I must have learned about the possibility of the "funny uncle" because, one day, a real funny uncle (married to my late father's sister) invited me to lay down next to him on his bed when we were visiting. I said no and made tracks, I must have been 8 or 9 at the time.
100% :respec:
I had few unpleasant encounters before i was 16. one at 11 years, with an older son (20+) of my school teacher, when i came to teacher's house while she was not home, and an on-going situation for 2 years with, surprise, a roller-skating coach (i did both, ice and roller), who created many activities and occasions to be next to me and with me alone. The literature i read and films i saw by that time helped me to come out of it unharmed.

The books i most grateful for are by Balzak, Maupassant, 1001 Night, The Decameron, many by H. Boll, and Forsyte Saga. One of the best films to see for a kid that is not X/R-rated is italian film by De Santis Un Marito per Anna Zaccheo, it has all the right elements what to look out for. "Rocco and his brothers" by Visconti is very useful also. So are "Angelica marquis of angles" and "Angelica and the King" (french costume dramas), that poor woman could not get a break from any man she met and avoided the ones she was not interested in.

It's best to learn early...
 
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nimi

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I was scrolling through twitter and found another article about cultural conditions that enable sex abuse to continue. The sport in question is a different one, but in many ways very similar and makes for an interesting comparison with skating: The Inevitability of Sexual Abuse in Horse Sport

This was very well said (emphasis aded):
“Sports organizations are driven to win and quite naturally place successful coaches, trainers and athletes on a pedestal. It can be tempting to accept one set of rules of conduct for the highly successful and another for the rest of us,” says Nichols. “But in the area of sexual abuse prevention, the rules must be seen as we see sports rules, clear bright lines that are more important than any individual.

And this sentence really made me pause: "Protection laws for working animals were established over a decade before they ever existed for children." Quite telling.
(...) many see the rules limiting one-on-one interactions between coaches and minors as an onerous restriction; in horse sport, adults texting with minors and drinking at mixed age social events are as much part of the culture as revering the training wisdom of Morris. (...)

A successful precedent for such rules already exists, however. Objective standards have long been clearly mapped out and well understood for one population in equestrian sport on both the national and international level—the horses. (...)

Ironically, it’s a situation that mirrors society at large. Protection laws for working animals were established over a decade before they ever existed for children. In fact, the world’s first organization devoted to child protection—the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children—came into existence in 1875 and was founded, in part, by Henry Bergh, the animal protection advocate behind the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
 

Vagabond

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I'm torn on what children should know.
If a child has access to a smart phone and an Instagram account (for which there is apparently no minimum age), he or she should know. Parents should think about these issues before giving their children phones or unfettered Internet access. And there should be education about the risks in the home, at school, and, of course, in connection with extracurricular activities such as figure skating.

One of my brothers was arrested for sexting with an eleven-year-old girl who had created an account for herself on another app that had an unenforced age limit of eighteen.

The dangers are very real.
 

bethy135

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But the most important thing is empowering kids against adults who want to abuse them, not just sexually. That goes for bullying teachers as well (I had a few.) So without telling kids that the world is a tough place with a lot of bad people, I would emphasize how to stand up for oneself, politely in most cases and impolitely if necessary.

I'm still not sure that would have helped some of the skater victims, who were at the wrong end of power equations.

In our experience standing up to abuse (sexual and bullying and emotional) in the sport of figure skating does no good. In the cases I witnessed the skaters got ostracized from the sport and community/"family". To my knowledge these skaters didn't even submit a formal complaint or report. But merely took a stand for themselves. They were very brave. Alas, these skaters were indeed at the wrong end of the power equation.

This particular article is very powerful to me. So much so that I dared to react publicly to it on FB with one of those simple sad emoji reactions. And I'm sick to my stomach with worry that I'm going to pay for it.
 

Arwen17

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when you’re 13 or 15 an adult’s romantic interest might seem exciting at first, even if it is abusive. Kids at this age might not think of themselves as kids. And it’s such a fine line too - maybe it’s fine for a 17 year old to date a 21 year old. Maybe it isn’t. And it’s hard to know the difference.

I thought of myself as a kid, but I thought of myself as a SMART kid, smarter than many adults, who were just plain idiots in some of their life choices lol.

I had a huge crush on one of my high school teachers, who was in his early 30s, but I never did anything with it because I intrinsically recognized we were NOT equals mentally/maturity, no matter how much I adored him. I also had the self-awareness to recognize that I was conflicted between viewing him as a father figure (since my dad died when I was 11) and having sexual feelings for him since I was experiencing the hormones of puberty for the first time. Right from the beginning, when I first started to have sexual feelings around age 15-16, I was always attracted to movie actors or teachers in their 30s. I thought I was the biggest freak for being attracted to men in their 30s, instead of my own age group, but I think it's the "maturity" and "confidence" of that age group is appealing to females, even to really young women (especially one who is missing a father figure in her life because the father is dead.) But even with all of those feelings, I still had a logical enough brain to recognize we were NOT equals. I could feel the power imbalance because of our ages and I didn't like it. So I never did anything inappropriate, although any fool could tell he was my favorite teacher with how much I talked to him. He knew my father was dead, and he had kids of his own at home, so I'm sure at the very least he could tell I was using him as a surrogate father figure with my chattiness. (He was also a respectable, married man and I knew how dead-wrong it would be to hurt his wife by trying to start anything with him, and I knew he was the type who would report any kind of inappropriate behavior in a heartbeat anyway. He was a super nice teacher, so I doubt I was the only kid who has had a crush on him.)

I've always disliked the feeling of a power imbalance. When I was 23, I tried dating a man 10 years older than me and quickly gave up with the phrase "I feel like a child next to you. The age gap is just too wide for me."

When I was 16 years old, I knew of an 18 year old coworker at a restaurant was having sex with a 43 old coworker because he would buy her things. He was known for having sex with the teenagers who worked as cashiers at that place all the time. He wasn't "dangerous" in that he never hurt them and it was "consensual", but it was basically bribery and predatory. AKA You have no money because you're a teenage min-wage worker, so I'll treat you like you're special and buy you expensive things if you date me and sleep with me.
I was told by another coworker that because I had showed "no interest" in his advances that that was why I had been left alone. He was frighteningly intelligent, and not bad-looking at all, and I'm highly attracted to intelligent, but I didn't like the "power gap" of our ages and so I stayed away from him. But nothing I said would convince that 18-year-old coworker what she was doing was a mistake.

I'm not sure why I was so self-aware from an early age, but I guess the fact that before my dad died when I was 11, I knew what a healthy relationship between a man and woman of similar age should look like. That and I went to school with a lot of kids who had parents who were abusive or divorced, so I knew what "bad" looked like and how lucky I was, even with a dad who died of cancer when I was so young, I knew what a normal, healthy relationship looked like before he died.

In conclusion, I 100% agree education needs to be pushed like crazy. Perverts/predators aren't going anywhere. Your own brain is the first line of defense, followed by your parent's brains etc.
 

overedge

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Education can't make the changes by itself. You can make kids (or adults for that matter) aware of what abuse is, how it doesn't always look like abuse at first, and how to avoid it or protect yourself from it
But that won't do any good if abuse happens and there aren't safe ways to report it, and meaningful penalties for the abusers.
 

AxelAnnie

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It is chilling. I can't come up with a better description. When I was 13, my physics teacher developed a "crush" on me. On my fancy boarding school trip he would come into my hotel room, sit on the bed, and tell fascinating stories. Also, tell me how beautiful and special I was. No touching. Just words. He was a married 41 year old man. I thought he was strange. I didn't understand that he was a PEDOPHILE. My hope is that girls and boys today know enough to be able to tell the difference. But still maintain their belief that people are ultimately good.
Technicality: A pedophile is someone who is attracted to prepubescent children.

Not saying the guy was not disgusting, inappropriate, and who knows what else. Just not a pedophile.
 

FSfan107

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If a child has access to a smart phone and an Instagram account (for which there is apparently no minimum age), he or she should know. Parents should think about these issues before giving their children phones or unfettered Internet access. And there should be education about the risks in the home, at school, and, of course, in connection with extracurricular activities such as figure skating.

One of my brothers was arrested for sexting with an eleven-year-old girl who had created an account for herself on another app that had an unenforced age limit of eighteen.

The dangers are very real.

Of course it would be ideal if every parent would limit their child's access to a smart phone and IG account. However, there are still going to be parents out there allowing it or not knowing their child has access through a friend. You have to go after the perpetrators of abuse too, the ones in the wrong.
 

aka_gerbil

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I do agree that education is important about what is appropriate and inappropriate. That said, it seems like in more than one of the cases of abuse we’ve heard about, the young lady knew what was happening was wrong, and what they actually needed was a supportive reporting environment in which they could be confident that the person they reported to would take them seriously and that reporting would not jeopardize her career in the sport.
 
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Perky Shae Lynn

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As a parent I struggle with how to explain these things to the kids. I try to be as direct as possible. But it's tough. We had an unfortunate case of a false report of sexual harassment at my son's elementary school. A 5th grader was accused of inappropriate touching. Social media firestorm ensued, with threats, insults, etc. All accusations turned out to be false. That was another tough conversation with the kids. But as uncomfortable as the topic is, it can't be ignored. As everyone said, the education alone is not enough. There has to be a safe and secure reporting environment. And severe consequences for those who violate others, physically or emotionally.
 

Aussie Willy

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I remember reading an Adult Skating Facebook page where some adult skaters were complaining I think about a US policy regarding friending people under 18 on FB (ie it being banned). I think whoever you are in the sport, once you are over 18 you need to set your limits and realise that those under 18 need to be protected. People should not take it personally. Unfortunately not everyone can be trusted, that is why measures like that are in place.

As a judge I have a strict FB policy of not friending skaters under 18. I do get requests from time to time because I am approachable for feedback and encouraging and happy to chat to skaters about skating. But when it comes to being a judge but I have set a standard for myself with regards social media. The same should go for coaches, officials and skaters over 18.

Athletes who are part of a team, whether in a pair, dance couple, synchro team or going to an event together need to behave professionally. I have heard of cases of abuse and it has been laughed off or accepted as a normal part of the sport. I have seen bullying from officials (including those at international level) who feel they can treat others anyway they like. That is because there is no consequences for their actions. One of the reasons cultural change is so difficult.

As we say in safety "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept". There needs to be an environment created through education to help skaters and those around them. Not just telling skaters about reporting but educating those who should know better so they don't do it in the first place. Much of that comes down to coaches who are usually the first point of contact. Workplaces have training tools about harassment, respect and codes of conducts. Skating rinks and training environments are workplaces too.
 
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AxelAnnie

Like a small boat on the ocean...
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If a child has access to a smart phone and an Instagram account (for which there is apparently no minimum age), he or she should know. Parents should think about these issues before giving their children phones or unfettered Internet access. And there should be education about the risks in the home, at school, and, of course, in connection with extracurricular activities such as figure skating.

One of my brothers was arrested for sexting with an eleven-year-old girl who had created an account for herself on another app that had an unenforced age limit of eighteen.

The dangers are very real.

Truer words were never spoken. There is way too much crap out there, and way too many opportunities for bad people to snare your kid.

My grandsons both have smart watches for kids. The watches have GPS, no internet access, and the ability for the parent to program in 4-6 phone numbers.........Mom Dad, two grandparents. BOOM. You can find your kids, and call them to say it is time for dinner. Or they can call you with "I've fallen and I can't get up"...kidding, but you know what I mean.
s
 

hanca

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So are "Angelica marquis of angles" and "Angelica and the King" (french costume dramas), that poor woman could not get a break from any man she met and avoided the ones she was not interested in.
What exactly did you learn from those movies? That making gold doesn’t pay off? Or that one can get killed or raped even in Versailles?
 

millyskate

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13,891
I'm torn on what children should know. I was a really voracious reader as a child and learned things from books that I couldn't put into context. But somewhere along the line I must have learned about the possibility of the "funny uncle" because, one day, a real funny uncle (married to my late father's sister) invited me to lay down next to him on his bed when we were visiting. I said no and made tracks, I must have been 8 or 9 at the time.

For kids who are NOT reading "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex" because some adult incautiously left it around, I do recommend telling them early what touching is not allowed and how to tell parents if something goes wrong. But the most important thing is empowering kids against adults who want to abuse them, not just sexually. That goes for bullying teachers as well (I had a few.) So without telling kids that the world is a tough place with a lot of bad people, I would emphasize how to stand up for oneself, politely in most cases and impolitely if necessary.

I'm still not sure that would have helped some of the skater victims, who were at the wrong end of power equations.
I've mentioned this before but I love this quote from a French bio , written by a doctor.

"And the best piece of advice I was ever given, the biggest life lesson I have ever received, I received it from my mother when I was a very small girl.

"Trust yourself and listen to yourself. If the person opposite is making you feel uncomfortable, and even if this person is an adult, it's never, never you who are wrong. You have an alarm bell inside you, listen to it when it rings".

This idea that I had an alarm bell inside me, that it was always right, always allowed me to run from the very first step.

That vague sense of unease isn't a vague sense of unease. It's your alarm bell ringing. And if it's ringing, it's because it's right to ring. End of story.

Now that I'm a grown-up, or almost, I've lost count of all the times that this alarm has saved me. And I'm yet to hear it ring by mistake. On the rare occasions when I did not listen to it right away, because it was so small I believed it to be out of tune, the next steps proved me she had been right, again, since the start.

Of course, at first, it was about protecting me against perverts.
Then I realised it also protected me against non-sexual perverts.
Then I realised it also helped me in many different occasions.
Then I realised it also helped me in my medical consultations."


I think children have an alarm bell and it's a great way to teach them how to use it. I was given a similar education and have found it so useful: when you learn to exercise your alarm bell as a child, it serves you right into adulthood as you grow in confidence to address problematic situations.
And we'd be wrong to distrust it - I agree with the author that I've never ever, ever ever heard mine ring by mistake.

It's been on more than one occasion useful in dislodging predators from positions where they could be harmful, where everyone else was hesitating to step in.
 

overedge

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@millyskate That quote reminds me of an excellent book about personal safety, called The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. He's a security expert who works with a lot of celebrities, and he grew up in an abusive household, which, he says, helped him to learn the signals of when he might be in danger or when situations might blow up into violence.

One of the things he says is that if you're somewhere and you feel unsafe, leave - even if things seem normal or there isn't any obvious threat. He says it doesn't matter if it looks weird or if people think you're being a wuss or being overly cautious - your safety is more important than what other people think. And he also says that your subconscious can pick up on things that your conscious mind might not be noticing because it's busy doing other things, so fear can be your subconscious letting you know that you are in danger even if everything looks OK.
 
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once_upon

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I think that we forget how much romantic/sexual flattery/inappropriate media plays into grooming. While alarms may go off in some young girls (and boys), when you enter puberty the hormones start the emerge.

For example how many romance novels have a young woman (usually of age) who is inexperienced and a virgin is introduced/falls in love with an experienced older man? I found those books in a library when I was 14, thought they were real life - even wrote a book report on one not realizing it was "historical fiction". Libraries and reading arent always a good measure of knowing what is or is not appropriate interactions between adults and children.

Media emphasizes sexually-flattery in how pretty, sexy you look is in advertising, music, entertainment like tv shows or movies.

Skaters or other athletes have a limited circle of social interactions with others their age, are ripe for grooming. I'm not sure what the answers are. Education is certainly part of it. Encouragement to report is part of it. Trusted, ethical adults is a huge part of it.

When success overrides looking for/being aware of grooming behaviors - parents coaches, young skaters seeking a successful career in skating - reporting becomes secondary to well being of the child/teen. How do we address that?
 
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Arwen17

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As a judge I have a strict FB policy of not friending skaters under 18. I do get requests from time to time because I am approachable for feedback and encouraging and happy to chat to skaters about skating. But when it comes to being a judge but I have set a standard for myself with regards social media. The same should go for coaches, officials and skaters over 18.

I have a problem with the "magical line in the sand" that is the age 18. While I think it makes sense for officials and judges because they need to remain "neutral" and not show any favoritism, I don't think it makes sense for skaters. For example, you're age 18 and your best friend is age 17. You're saying that the 18-year-old skater cannot friend their 17-year-old friend on facebook because one is an "adult" and the other is a "child" in the eyes of the law? That's absurd.
Same if they are age 19 or 20. Those ages are NOT that far away from 17 and therefore it is very likely for skaters like that to be good friends in the rink.
Now, for someone like who me, just turned 29, it makes more sense because the age gap is much wider. I don't make a point of friending kids at the rink, but at the same time, if they friend request me, I don't mind accepting it because (A) I don't live in a "disreputable" manner. I never drink alcohol, or smoke, or do drugs. I've been unprocessed whole foods vegan for 6+ years and my life revolves around ballet and figure skating training. So the only stuff I post on facebook is stuff about eating healthy and stuff about ballet and figure skating. There is nothing on my personal page that would be "inappropriate" for a kid to see. I don't discuss politics or religion etc on my facebook page either. If I did any of those things, then yes, I wouldn't let kids friend me. I've also never had any of these kids direct message me. They just want to follow my skating and ballet progress stuff I post. The majority of them are age 16 or older anyway. I've noticed that if they are younger than age 15/16, they don't even seem to have a facebook account or their parents are heavily controlling it. All of the younger kids accounts seem to be purely run by the parents and all of those parents friend my account. I've never friended them. They go out of their way to friend me because they want to share their kid's skating progress with everyone (and maybe they get a secret kick out of watching my progress as an adult skater, I don't know.)

I think if you're a teacher or a judge or have a job at the rink, you need to be careful about who you friend because you're in a position of power and you need to remain "neutral". But if you're just a fellow skater, then you just need to ask yourself if the things you post on your personal page are always "kid-friendly" content. I haven't found any of these kids actually want to "hang out" or "talk to you privately", they just want to follow your skating posts and have you follow their skating posts in return.
 

Aussie Willy

Hates both vegemite and peanut butter
Messages
23,946
I have a problem with the "magical line in the sand" that is the age 18. While I think it makes sense for officials and judges because they need to remain "neutral" and not show any favoritism, I don't think it makes sense for skaters. For example, you're age 18 and your best friend is age 17. You're saying that the 18-year-old skater cannot friend their 17-year-old friend on facebook because one is an "adult" and the other is a "child" in the eyes of the law? That's absurd.
Same if they are age 19 or 20. Those ages are NOT that far away from 17 and therefore it is very likely for skaters like that to be good friends in the rink.
Now, for someone like who me, just turned 29, it makes more sense because the age gap is much wider. I don't make a point of friending kids at the rink, but at the same time, if they friend request me, I don't mind accepting it because (A) I don't live in a "disreputable" manner. I never drink alcohol, or smoke, or do drugs. I've been unprocessed whole foods vegan for 6+ years and my life revolves around ballet and figure skating training. So the only stuff I post on facebook is stuff about eating healthy and stuff about ballet and figure skating. There is nothing on my personal page that would be "inappropriate" for a kid to see. I don't discuss politics or religion etc on my facebook page either. If I did any of those things, then yes, I wouldn't let kids friend me. I've also never had any of these kids direct message me. They just want to follow my skating and ballet progress stuff I post. The majority of them are age 16 or older anyway. I've noticed that if they are younger than age 15/16, they don't even seem to have a facebook account or their parents are heavily controlling it. All of the younger kids accounts seem to be purely run by the parents and all of those parents friend my account. I've never friended them. They go out of their way to friend me because they want to share their kid's skating progress with everyone (and maybe they get a secret kick out of watching my progress as an adult skater, I don't know.)

I think if you're a teacher or a judge or have a job at the rink, you need to be careful about who you friend because you're in a position of power and you need to remain "neutral". But if you're just a fellow skater, then you just need to ask yourself if the things you post on your personal page are always "kid-friendly" content. I haven't found any of these kids actually want to "hang out" or "talk to you privately", they just want to follow your skating posts and have you follow their skating posts in return.
You have to set a line somewhere and I think use your best judgement. But 18 is kind of the limit legally on a lot of things. But even as an adult skaters (of which I was one) these days I still think you have to be careful. Even when they turn 18 but are still a competitive skater I am kind of careful because of judging.
 

Vagabond

Well-Known Member
Messages
17,134
I have a problem with the "magical line in the sand" that is the age 18. While I think it makes sense for officials and judges because they need to remain "neutral" and not show any favoritism, I don't think it makes sense for skaters. For example, you're age 18 and your best friend is age 17.
Did you read the article that is the subject of this thread?

Regardless, it is possible to be friends with someone without being Facebook "friends" too.
 

Arwen17

New Member
Messages
7
Regardless, it is possible to be friends with someone without being Facebook "friends" too.

I don't know what era you're from, but asking to friend on facebook and instagram is a thing. Nobody asks for your email. They ask for your facebook (and sometimes instagram) account. A great deal of our club announcements come solely from a facebook club page, so you have to have a facebook account to keep up with what's going on. It's also where people post their skates/dresses for resale. And if you want to see anyone's competition videos or theatre on ice stuff, they are all on facebook. If you're not on facebook and friends with each other, you're literally cutting yourself out of knowing anything.

EDIT: we have a "public-facing" club page that anyone can see and we have a private club page where you have to request to join and be a member to see announcements.
 

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