News / Winnipeg

New national program trains coaches to spot, and stop, child assault

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Canadian Association of Coaches (CAC) teamed up to launch a new online training program Thursday.

Former Team Canada ski coach Bertrand Charest was found guilty on a number of charges related to the exploitation and assault of young athletes.

Toronto Star Photos

Former Team Canada ski coach Bertrand Charest was found guilty on a number of charges related to the exploitation and assault of young athletes.

A new project wants to teach coaches in Canada how to stop child sexual abuse before it starts.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Canadian Association of Coaches (CAC) teamed up to launch a new online training program Thursday. The program gives participants professional development points toward certification in the National Coaching Certification Program.

“I think it really shows the priority of the issue—because it is such a prevalent problem in Canada—as it relates to child sexual abuse,” said Noni Classen, director of education at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.  

In one high-profile case this year, ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest was found guilty on 37 charges related to the exploitation and assault of young athletes.

“I think it is important that this is something that people are turning their heads to, and I think this underscores how coaching associations can do that,” Classen said.

The training demonstrates how to spot certain behaviours and situations that could escalate to abuse.

Before this program, coaches were taught that if they know a child is being sexually abused, they need to intervene, Classen said.

“But that’s not how sexual abuse happens, sexual contact does not happen in front of other people,” she said.

“This [program] is about going deeper and teaching coaches—giving them some tools for what we actually know, as experts working in this space, of what those high-risk behaviours are.

The program gives standards of measure for concerning behaviour and reporting protocol.

“[Things like] who do you report something to that doesn’t hit the threshold of abuse. You’re not going to go to the police with it, you’re not going to go to child welfare about it, but it needs to be corrected.”

With files from the Canadian Press.

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