You Can’t Resolution Your Way Out of Child Sexual Abuse
D’Arcy Lussier is a trained facilitator for the Little Warrior’s PreventIt! workshop and has been delivering workshops on how to prevent child sexual abuse for 5 years.
The revelation that long time high school football coach Kelsey McKay has had multiple child sexual assault allegations brought against him has shocked the local sports community. It is a terrible account of abuse of power by someone in a trusted position working with youth, and one that unfortunately is not unique.
In response two NDP MLAs (Adrien Sala and Jamie Moses) brought forward a resolution in the Manitoba legislature for the provincial government to develop better policies to protect youth in sports. This was backed by Geordie Wilson, head coach of the Winnipeg Rifles, who was quoted in one news story as saying:
“The fact that the PCs decided not to keep talking to make things better, that means everything is good,” Wilson said. “If everything is good, then why did those kids at Vincent Massey (Collegiate) get assaulted?”
The government’s response was that there are programs in place like “Pathway to Safer Sports” and that the resolution was too limited in scope.
And friends, the government on this item is right.
The Pathway to Safer Sports program provides a phone line to report instances of abuse, a learning center with policy templates and other resources which need to be implemented to ensure government funding, and a partnership with Sport Law to continue developing resources for sport organizations.
The scope of this resolution is also too narrow and incredibly frustrating. We like to create a “type” when we think of child sexual abusers: the guy in a white van, the predatory coach of a sports team, the creepy uncle. But the reality is there is no type when it comes to child abusers and terms like “likeable” and “unsuspecting” are often used to describe them. So to focus such a broad issue just on sports and to suggest that this government hasn’t done anything comes off as using a very real issue for political gain and a good headline.
You can’t legislate away child sexual abuse. There needs to be a consolidated effort across government and society to tackle this problem. Workshops, programs, guidance on policy creation, guidance on culture development, support and funding — all these things exist and have for years. And its to our detriment that we ignore them. Instead of searching them out, society ignores child sexual abuse until the next Kelsey Mckay is revealed and then we’re all shocked at the details of the crimes.
1 in 6 girls and 1 in 12 boys are victims of some form of physical/penetrative sexual abuse. It is more likely you know someone who is a victim than not, you just don’t know it. That is our reality, and that is why we need to avoid making child sexual abuse a talking point to win political points.
Geordie asked “If everything is good why did those kids…get assaulted?” My response would be there weren’t enough adults educated in child sexual abuse or how to implement policies and practices to protect those kids. The resolution as provided doesn’t address this. What would have been a better resolution is to proactively encourage citizens to take advantage of the resources currently available and help prevent future assaults. I would hope that would be something both sides of our political spectrum could have gotten behind.
Below are links to some resources that you can leverage to learn more about child sexual abuse whether you’re an individual or an organization. The biggest impact you can have on preventing child sexual abuse is educating yourself first and then helping to educate others.
Safer Sport Media Release
Pathway to Safer Sport Media Release | Sport Manitoba
Little Warriors PreventIt! Workshop (in person and online options)
Prevent It! — Prevent & Respond to Child Sexual Abuse | Little Warriors
Plan to Protect — a program/methodology for implementing a safe culture for children
Home — Plan to Protect Abuse Prevention & Protection — Plan to Protect
Canadian Centre for Child Protection
Home — protectchildren.ca
Toba Centre — Giving victims a safe space to disclose their abuse
Home — Toba Centre for Children & Youth