SafeSport alleges "culture of grooming and abuse" in U.S. figure skating

clairecloutier

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In a new statement reported by Christine Brennan in USA Today, SafeSport alleges that there is a culture of "grooming and abuse" in U.S. figure skating. They also cite "concerns about how young women in particular are treated, especially in pairs skating."

SafeSport also stated firmly their refusal to further investigate the John Coughlin case. This is in response to pressure from U.S. Figure Skating to continue the investigation.

SafeSport discovers figure skating culture of "grooming and abuse" that has gone "unchecked for too long"
https://www.usatoday.com/story/spor...re-grooming-abuse-probe-safesport/3053528002/
 

barbarafan

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This makes me beyond angry! Once again Safe Sport has failed to protect anyone involved.

This makes it sound like John’s accuser was a pair skater. This is not the case.

Safe Sport is now about looking after themselves and this helps nobody involved. An independent body needs to take over the investigation and let the facts come out.

To be clear, I’m not talking about outing any accusers, I totally believe in their protection too. But this statement from Safe Sport has done nothing now but muddy the waters further. It doesn’t help anyone.
Distraction.....Trumpism 101
 

el henry

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Well, that statement from SafeSport about the culture says absolutely nothing, other than give Christine Brennan another clickbait headline.

No back up, no details, nothing. A p!ssing contest between USFS and SafeSport.

The real news with details is the absolute end, and the reasons therefore, of the Coughlin investigation.

But of course Christine wouldn’t start with that :rolleyes:
 

MacMadame

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The "details" at the end have been reported multiple times. The news is SafeSports statement putting the ball firmly back in USFS's court where it needs to be.

If people don't believe that skating has a culture of grooming and abuse, all they have to do is read this thread with all the excuses people make for skating/USFS/accused abusers and how they try to point the finger anywhere but at the actual culprits.
 

wickedwitch

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The "details" at the end have been reported multiple times. The news is SafeSports statement putting the ball firmly back in USFS's court where it needs to be.

If people don't believe that skating has a culture of grooming and abuse, all they have to do is read this thread with all the excuses people make for skating/USFS/accused abusers and how they try to point the finger anywhere but at the actual culprits.
I don't see how USFSA could be seen as objective enough to investigate, especially given the accusations of a culture of grooming and abuse. Obviously, it should be their responsibility to fix the problems, but any investigation needs to be done by a completely independent body. Maybe it would be okay for USFSA to pay for the investigation, but even that could be seen as trying to buy favorable findings.
 
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MacMadame

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There's no reason USFS couldn't hire an independent investigator to look into the Coughlin accusations. As long as they picked a reputable firm with a strong history of being independent, as has been done numerous times by other groups, it would be fine.
 

skatfan

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The "details" at the end have been reported multiple times. The news is SafeSports statement putting the ball firmly back in USFS's court where it needs to be.

If people don't believe that skating has a culture of grooming and abuse, all they have to do is read this thread with all the excuses people make for skating/USFS/accused abusers and how they try to point the finger anywhere but at the actual culprits.
USFS seems to want to have a say in how SafeSport works - which is not how they do things. The coaches seem to be in denial about the system's culture, and now, in their attempt to get Coughlin's name cleared without spending any of their own $ and satisfy their own point of view, have managed to make everyone look bad.

Skating is a tiny Federation in the scheme of things, and I can't imagine that the USOC, coping with the shattering of USA Gymnastics over the past three years, will be in any way willing to hear about how SafeSport is causing the USFS such grief.
 

mag

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f people don't believe that skating has a culture of grooming and abuse, all they have to do is read this thread with all the excuses people make for skating/USFS/accused abusers and how they try to point the finger anywhere but at the actual culprits.
It shocks me that people can’t see all the crap that goes on in Skating. Funny, we accuse judges of seeing what they want to see, seems like many fans, coaches, and parents are guilty of the same thing.
 

Moustaffask8r

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It shocks me that people can’t see all the crap that goes on in Skating. Funny, we accuse judges of seeing what they want to see, seems like many fans, coaches, and parents are guilty of the same thing.
Totally agree with you and at the same time look how people react when one of their idol is being blame.... Can you blame some people for maybe shutting up because they're scared...This is not only a skating problem it's a society problem! People need to stand behind the victims
 

caseyedwards

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It is so unfair to Coughlin!!! Once again brennan talks about a secret source saying Coughlin raped/abused/molested two minors which makes SafeSport say FS has a problem.
 

Theoreticalgirl

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Mashable (of all places) managed to obtain a copy of the email from SafeSport; except of relevance here:

In their statement, obtained by Mashable via email, SafeSport said:

In the course of the Center’s work on this [the Coughlin] matter, and other Figure Skating matters, it is evident that there was/is a culture in figure skating that allowed grooming and abuse to go unchecked for too long. The issues in this sport are similar to those the Center has seen in many others and cut across a wide population. This cannot be allowed to continue. The Center addresses these cultural issues every day through training and education and by, on a case-by-case basis, holding those who violate the Code accountable.
SafeSport also called for "any person with knowledge of abuse, including leaders, officials, coaches, managers, parents or athletes," to reach out with more information.
https://mashable.com/article/figure-skating-abuse-statement/#5Z1fLnn4VaqZ
 

PRlady

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Pairs skating, because of the desirable difference in size between the male and female, is the discipline with a likely age difference between the two at least initially. We all know pairs with a five-year age difference and a grown-looking man with a barely pubescent girl. So yes, that’s an atmosphere ripe for grooming and abuse but I’m not sure what the sport is supposed to do about it other than prohibiting adult men from skating with young girls?
 

skatfan

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Pairs skating, because of the desirable difference in size between the male and female, is the discipline with a likely age difference between the two at least initially. We all know pairs with a five-year age difference and a grown-looking man with a barely pubescent girl. So yes, that’s an atmosphere ripe for grooming and abuse but I’m not sure what the sport is supposed to do about it other than prohibiting adult men from skating with young girls?
Gosh, I really disagree. Lot's of activities have of-age and under-age participants where common-sense rules are established to create safety.

There's a lot that can be done in terms of how the coaching team works with each member of the team, what off-ice behavior norms are followed. Expectations of the men can be made explicit and accountability ensured. Young women can be taught what is appropriate and how/who to talk to someone if they aren't. Those in authority can be trained to see grooming and discourage it.
 

Debbie S

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A full-scale culture change is probably needed (not just in skating but in many sports and professions) but that's going to take a lot of time and effort and even the best protections put in place will have cracks. In the meantime, there are small changes that can be made like Skatfan mentioned, but the coaches and officials have to buy in. They are the ones with the power in the sport and the power to create a particular atmosphere at their rink/region. But for the most part, coaches and officials do things the way they saw things done when they were growing up in the sport. Which has not always been good and with USFS starting a feud with SafeSport, I fear everyone will just double down. :(
 

overedge

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Mashable (of all places) managed to obtain a copy of the email from SafeSport; except of relevance here:



https://mashable.com/article/figure-skating-abuse-statement/#5Z1fLnn4VaqZ
"Training and education" only work if people are willing to listen, and/or if they take what they learned back to their workplace and apply it. Look at all the large companies who have some sort of mandatory training on issues like diversity or harassment - and IME there are always people who sit through the training, check all the boxes, and then go back to the workplace and act exactly how they did before. I can see the same kind of thing happening in skating, with the usual excuses: "they don't understand how our sport works", "I don't [harass/discriminate] so I don't have to pay attention to this, and I'm insulted that I have to attend", etc. etc.

I know that SafeSport has limited resources, but it needs to be able to :kickass: more than on a "case-by-case basis".
 

starrynight

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I feel like that article didn't really get to the point. So what is it talking about? Is it about the interaction between the two skaters in a pairs partnership and inappropriate interactions between the two skaters being the cultural problem? The article doesn't seem to be clearly written at all.
 

aka_gerbil

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I feel like that article didn't really get to the point. So what is it talking about? Is it about the interaction between the two skaters in a pairs partnership and inappropriate interactions between the two skaters being the cultural problem? The article doesn't seem to be clearly written at all.
These are my questions too.

Also, to state the obvious, it’s not necessarily or even often going to be an inappropriate situation if you have two pairs skaters or ice dancers of similar age who decide they have feelings for each other and decide to date. If they try to take that stance—that a pair or dance team should never date—that’s taking things about 9 bridges too far.
 

Moustaffask8r

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Pairs skating, because of the desirable difference in size between the male and female, is the discipline with a likely age difference between the two at least initially. We all know pairs with a five-year age difference and a grown-looking man with a barely pubescent girl. So yes, that’s an atmosphere ripe for grooming and abuse but I’m not sure what the sport is supposed to do about it other than prohibiting adult men from skating with young girls?
Gosh, I really disagree. Lot's of activities have of-age and under-age participants where common-sense rules are established to create safety.

There's a lot that can be done in terms of how the coaching team works with each member of the team, what off-ice behavior norms are followed. Expectations of the men can be made explicit and accountability ensured. Young women can be taught what is appropriate and how/who to talk to someone if they aren't. Those in authority can be trained to see grooming and discourage it.
Isn't this the whole purpose of SafeSport!!!!
 

wickedwitch

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I wonder to what extent you see the same issues in ice dancing. That could help hint at what the cause is. If it's due to culture or the fact that there are far fewer male partners, then the issues should be similar. If it's due to the large age differences, then the problem shouldn't be cropping up in ice dance.

It is incredibly unusual to have an Olympic level sport where a male and a female are in such close contact. As a result, there may be standards that apply to only ice dance or pairs teams. But the USFSA can and should codify those standards in a way to protect the athlete but doesn't result in ludicrous and overbearing rules.
 
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clairecloutier

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Pairs skating, because of the desirable difference in size between the male and female, is the discipline with a likely age difference between the two at least initially. We all know pairs with a five-year age difference and a grown-looking man with a barely pubescent girl. So yes, that’s an atmosphere ripe for grooming and abuse but I’m not sure what the sport is supposed to do about it other than prohibiting adult men from skating with young girls?
This was discussed a bit in one of the previous Coughlin threads. Potentially, it's not just age difference that is a problem. There is some thought that there's a general power imbalance between males and females in the partnered disciplines--ice dance and, especially, pairs skating. There tend to be fewer male partners available than females (at least in North America). This could inherently give males more power, and potentially the ability to abuse that power. Not just in a sexual way, but in other ways as well, such as by verbal abuse, lack of proper regard for their partner's safety, lack of willingness to overlook her faults/mistakes/injuries/flaws, financial exploitation of the partner and her family, and/or greater willingness on the part of coaches to overlook bad behavior from the male.

Obviously this is a very loaded and tough topic, but if there's a problem, it's better to recognize it than otherwise.


@overedge I completely agree. To me this excerpt (maybe someone will release the entire statement) reads as a warning to USFS about having larger consequences.
I kind of interpreted it that way as well. Although I'm not sure what if any power SafeSport has to create larger consequences.


I feel like that article didn't really get to the point. So what is it talking about? Is it about the interaction between the two skaters in a pairs partnership and inappropriate interactions between the two skaters being the cultural problem? The article doesn't seem to be clearly written at all.
The article is mostly based off the actual statement from SafeSport. Which apparently didn't include any specifics.
 

hoptoad

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There's no reason USFS couldn't hire an independent investigator to look into the Coughlin accusations. As long as they picked a reputable firm with a strong history of being independent, as has been done numerous times by other groups, it would be fine.
I agree. Even if they do, however, I don't expect the results to be satisfying to pretty much anybody.

I think it's even more important that USFS hire a reputable and independent firm with appropriate experience to make recommendations for best practices going forward. . . And then actually implement them.
 

starrynight

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Doesn’t sound like an easy job to address this. You’ve only got to sit in front of a group of teenagers on the bus to realise that imparting and enforcing rules and sense in respect of relationships and sex is easier said than done.
 

Michalle

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I sometimes wonder if at some point they just won't have pairs skating anymore. Now that the rules have been loosened with ice dance, it is taking on some more pairs-like qualities without the high risk factor, and there are so few pairs entrants compared to the other disciplines.
 

mollymgr

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I wish SafeSport and USFSA would work together to come up with a solution if there are problems rather than using this accusatory tone towards one another. It would be in everyone's best interest.
 

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