This space tracks PCA's response to the evolving news of sex abuse in sports, including the July 12, 2012 "Freeh Report" on Penn State University. Following are links to PCA resources, media appearances and PCA Founder Jim Thompson's original commentary, Joe Paterno and the Moral Courage Required of Coaches.
Download PCA's Child-Abuse Prevention Policies and Procedures Template
Webinar for Coaches and Leaders on Child-Abuse Prevention Co-Hosted by PCA and Kidpower®
Webinar for Parents on Child-Abuse Prevention Co-Hosted by PCA and Kidpower®
Child-Abuse Prevention Resources for Youth Sports Parents
Child-Abuse Preventions Resources for Youth Sports Coaches
Child-Abuse Prevention Resources for Youth Sports Leaders
PCA's Jim Thompson is quoted in Jesse McKinley's article in The New York Times, stemming from the child abuse prevention webinars PCA co-hosted with Kidpower®.
In this article inThe Boston Globe, PCA Founder Jim Thompson
advises youth sports coaches and organizations on how to handle the
fallout from recent sex-abuse scandals involving high-profile coaches.
Jim Thompson quoted in Phil Taylor's Sports Illustrated article on "The Sandusky Effect"
JOE PATERNO AND THE MORAL COURAGE REQUIRED OF COACHES
By Jim Thompson
The firing of Penn State University Football Coach Joe Paterno in response to sex crime charges against his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, should heighten public consciousness of the awesome power and responsibility of “coach” – from the top levels of competition all the way down to youth sports – and the need for coaches to exercise moral courage.
Coaches, first and foremost, are responsible for the well-being of their athletes and for setting an example of the type of person they are coaching their athletes to become. That includes protecting children when presented evidence of abuse…even if the accused is charming, powerful or a friend and colleague.
Those working with youth should understand their legal and ethical responsibilities. Many states have mandatory reporting requirements for anyone who is alerted to potential child abuse. In any event, it’s essential to err on the side of caution, rather than turning away and hoping things will be okay.
Doing so requires moral courage, the willingness to stand up for what is right even when others – including your friends, colleagues and teammates – disapprove. We often fail to exercise moral courage because we don’t want to let our teammates down and we fear being ostracized from a group or institution we value.
It is deeply ingrained in our human psyche that being part of a tribe is crucial to our safety, as it has been throughout human history. It seems Joe Paterno succumbed to the pressure to go along with his “tribe” rather than to fulfill his greatest responsibilities as a coach…as a vaunted leader, shaper of young people and exemplar of the institution he helped build.
Let’s hope that the sad end of Joe Paterno’s career will help all of us reach down and find our own moral courage when we face – as we likely will sooner or later – the pressure to protect a friend or an institution we love, even at the expense of those most innocent and vulnerable in our society.
Jim Thompson is founder and CEO of Positive Coaching Alliance (www.positivecoach.org), a national non-profit organization committed to providing all youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building youth sports experience. He is the author of Elevating Your Game: Becoming a Triple-Impact Competitor®.