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Rumours and suspicions
Who hasn’t heard rumours during training, practice or competition, of alleged inappropriate wrongdoings from a person in a position of authority, a volunteer or even a parent?
What should we do when we hear such rumours?
In cases of rumours or suspicions related to your organization’s code of ethics or harassment policy (such as rumours of intimidation, inappropriate behaviour, etc.):
The most important thing to do is to not spread that rumour further if we are not able to verify its authenticity. Spreading unfounded rumours can lead to serious problems because you could be inflicting reputational damages to the person targeted by those rumours.
The first thing to do is to call the person in charge of ethics in your organization to talk about the situation. Several sports organizations have a dedicated policy concerning such situations. You must come forward to the person in charge of that policy. If your organization doesn’t have one or if you don’t know the name of the person in charge, you should communicate with any other person in charge in your organization.
Usually, if you are well-intentioned and the facts that you are reporting are realistic and true, and if you don’t have a vested personal interest in the matter, it will be difficult for the organization to justify any retribution. However, retribution could be sought against you if you make a false statement.
In cases of rumours related to abusive behaviour toward an underage athlete:
The provincial Youth Protection Act considers that the security of a minor person is compromised in cases of harmful psychological treatment, sexual abuse or physical abuse. If you witness one of these situations, you are obligated to report it to the Director of Youth Protection (DYP) without delay.
You don’t need to have proof to report a situation to the DYP. If you believe that the security or the health of a person under the age of 18 years old is compromised because of inappropriate behaviour, you should also contact the DYP who will be able to help you through the process. Reporting or asking for advice is strictly confidential when you call the DYP.
Depending on the circumstances, you could also contact the police to make a complaint against the person responsible for the inappropriate behaviour.