Dealing with Abuse

What is Abuse?

Abuse is any form of physical, emotional and/or sexual mistreatment, or lack of care which causes physical injury or emotional damages to a child, whether done in person or through technology, by a person in a position of power.

Abuse is a PROTECTION issue for the victim.

In Alberta, a person is considered a child up to the age of 18 years. For more information on abuse please refer to Service Alberta.

Types of Abuse

Emotional, physical, sexual, lack of care

Victim

Any person under the age of majority as determined by the Provincial Child Protection Acts, may be male or female

Offender

Any person who has power or authority over victim and/or breeches trust; may be male or female

Investigation

External to the organization, referred to child welfare or police who may in some instances refer back to organization

Follow-up actions

Determined by Provincial Child Protection Acts and Criminal Code; civil suits may also occur

Philosophy

The victim is not to blame; offenders are responsible for their behavior


Types of Abuse and Examples

Emotional Abuse

When a person in a position of power repeatedly or severely attacks a child’s self-esteem through use of language, gestures or other behaviour that is degrading, isolating, humiliating, terrorizing, rejecting, or corrupting, or that ignores a child’s need for basic emotional care.

Examples: Name-calling, threatening, ridiculing, berating, intimidating, isolating, hazing or ignoring the child’s needs.

Physical Abuse

When a person in a position of power physically hurts or threatens to hurt a child, or by any means deliberately creates a significant risk of physical harm of a child.

Examples: Slapping, hitting, shaking, kicking, pulling hair or ears, throwing, and shoving, and grabbing, hazing or excessive exercise as a form of punishment.

Neglect

Failure to provide minimum care, and lack of supervision that presents risk of serious harm to a child.

Examples: Inattention to the basic necessities of life such as clothing, shelter, nutritious diets, education, good hygiene, supervision, medical and dental care, adequate rest, safe environment, moral guidance and discipline, exercise and fresh air.

Examples in hockey: Injury not adequately treated; player forced to play with an injury; road trip not properly supervised.

Sexual Abuse

When a child is used for sexual stimulation or gratification by another child, adolescent or adult (contact may or may not occur), including language, gestures or behaviors that are sexual in nature with children.

Examples of Sexual Abuse by Contact: touched in sexual areas; forced to touch another person’s sexual areas; kissed/held in a sexual manner; forced to perform oral sex; vaginal or anal intercourse, including penetration with any object.
Examples of Sexual Abuse by Non-Contact: shown sexual and/or pornographic photos or videos; being flashed/exposed to sexual body parts; forced to pose for seductive or sexual photos or videos; forced to listen to sexual talk; teased about sexual body parts; subjected to intrusive questions, comments, or observations; the object of voyeurism or unwanted watching; forced to watch sexual acts.

Child Exploitation

The actual or attempted abuse of a position of authority, differential power or trust in a relation to a child, with a view of benefiting sexually, monetarily, socially or politically from the use of a child.

Examples: Intentionally viewing, downloading or distributing any sexualized, demeaning or violent images involving children; or taking a photograph or other image of a child or making representations of a child in a way that can reasonably be interpreted as sexualized, demeaning or violent.

Hazing

An initiation practice that may humiliate, demean, degrade, or disgrace a person regardless of location or consent of the participant(s). Hazing is against Hockey Canada regulations, and it is important to discuss peer pressure so that all participants know that hazing is illegal and they do not have to participate.

In the hockey community, the following are not types/examples of abuse:

  • Benching a player for disciplinary reasons
  • Cutting a player from a team after tryouts
  • Refusing to transfer a player
  • Limiting ice time
  • Yelling instructions from the bench

‹ Back to Abuse and Harassment

How to keep children safe

I. Focus on the following five essentials to help keep your child safe:

a) Communication

  • Listen, talk, believe and reassure your child.
  • Provide opportunities for conversations.
  • Be open to any questions; nothing is off limits.
  • Be open to discussing difficult subjects such as sexuality.
  • Develop frank and open communication with the coaches.
  • If you have concerns, communicate them to the appropriate persons.
  • If you see or hear bullying, harassing or abusive behaviour, speak out!

b) Knowledge

  • Make your child aware of vulnerable situations.
  • Review your club’s bullying, harassment and abuse policy and procedures.
  • Be aware of your club’s screening and selection process for staff and volunteers.
  • Get to know the adults who are interacting with your child.
  • Discuss with coaches their expectations and the setting of boundaries: physical, sexual and social.

c) Develop personal skills

  • Teach your child specific ways to handle difficult situations.
  • Help your child define their personal boundaries.
  • Teach your child how to be assertive when their boundaries are crossed.

d) Build a safety plan

  • Develop check-ins, contingency plans, family codes.
  • Attend practices and games.
  • Be wary of regular private closed practices.
  • Be concerned of time spent alone with older youth and adults beyond training and game times.

e) Advocate

  • You are your child’s strongest supporter.
  • Evaluate situations according to the “best interest of your child”.

II. Be aware, and pay attention to in-person and online interactions involving your child.

a) In-Person

  • If someone being bullied, s/he should not watch, laugh or join in.
  • Ensure all children are included in group activities and inappropriate behaviours are addressed.
  • Help your child see the value of offering empathy and support to those who are bullied.
  • Demonstrate respectful behaviours at home and in your daily interactions.

b) Online (Cyberbullying)

  • Learn about the websites, blogs, chatrooms and cyber-lingo that your children are using.
  • Recognize that online communication is a very important social aspect in your child’s life.
  • Talk to your children about what is acceptable behaviour online and offline.
  • Keep the computer in a common area so you can monitor activities.
  • Establish communication lines with your child so s/he feels comfortable talking about cyberbullying experiences. Let them know that you are there to support them.
  • Report any incident of online harassment and physical threats to the local police and/or your Internet Service Provider.
  • Report any bullying that occurs over your child’s cell phone to your phone service provider. You may have to change the phone number if the problem does not stop

When you believe that your child, or any child, is a victim of abuse, harassment or bullying, report it to the proper authorities.

Reporting Abuse, and Getting Help

When any person has reasonable grounds that a child is being abused or neglected, s/he shall report this belief to the child protection authorities and/or Police.

Your priority is to ensure that the child’s best interests are protected. That can be done by following the acronym HEARD:

H (HEAR): Hear what they are saying and not saying. Listen to the child’s fears about the situation.

E (EMPATHIZE): Empathize with the child. Let them know you understand, and will help.

A (AFFIRM): Identify vulnerable situations and be there to protect the child.

R (REPORT/REFER): Refer immediately to your Provincial/Territorial Child Protection Agency or Police. Keep it confidential; do not get caught in the rumour mill.

D (DOCUMENT): Document the situation and your response; determine the support the child needs.

When I report abuse, what questions will be asked?

  • The child’s name, address, age, sex and birthdate
  • Parent/guardian names and addresses
  • The name and address of alleged offender
  • Details of the incident(s) that prompted your report
  • Your name and address

What happens when a report of abuse is made?

  • A social worker or police officer will decide if an investigation is needed.
  • If the child is “at risk” and needs protection an investigation is started as soon as possible.
  • An experienced interviewer will conduct the interview.
  • The primary concern is safety of the child.
  • The social worker and/or police officer will decide what further action is required.

Why don’t people report?

  • Unaware of the reporting laws and policies.
  • Believe that they can take care of the problem themselves.
  • Fearful of retaliation from the abuser - or are friends with the abuser.
  • Find it hard to believe.
  • Assume someone else will make a report.
  • Don’t want “to tell” on someone.
  • Want to protect their child from questions and embarrassment.
  • Are not sure where or how to make a report.
  • Just want it “all to go away”.

When you believe that your child, or any child, is a victim of abuse, harassment or bullying, report it to the proper authorities.

Identifying suspected abuse

How do children and youth cope with the trauma of bullying, harassment and abuse?

  • Pretend it never happened.
  • Convince themselves that it wasn’t so terrible.
  • Find excuses as to why it happened.
  • Blame themselves.
  • Develop physiological defenses - headaches, body pains and illnesses.
  • Escape through drugs, alcohol, food or sex.
  • Try to hide from their pain by being perfect.
  • Attempt suicide.

Why do kids not tell?

  • Fear.
  • Believe they are responsible.
  • Do not want to get the perpetrator into trouble.
  • Embarrassed/ashamed.
  • Think no one will believe them.
  • Worry that they will not be allowed to play hockey.

What can a parent do?

  • Listen and observe
  • Watch interactions with others
  • Be aware of sudden changes in behaviour and/or displays of anger
  • Question bruises/ marks on face, back, thighs, upper arms, head, buttocks, genital areas

When you believe that your child, or any child, is a victim of abuse, harassment or bullying, report it to the proper authorities.