Parents can help hold sports organizations accountable on sexual abuse, say experts

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Experts say hockey parents rattled by yet another abuse scandal can press sports organizations about what they're doing to keep young athletes safe.

The CEO of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada says accusations swirling around the Chicago Blackhawks' handling of sexual assault allegations renew concerns about player safety everywhere from professional leagues to community rinks.

While the burden shouldn't be on parents to fix systemic issues around abuse in sports, the dean of University of Toronto's kinesiology and physical education program adds that parents can help hold athletics organizations accountable.

Gretchen Kerr suggests asking questions such as whether staff are trained in safe sport, and if there are independent mechanisms to report concerns.

North Vancouver native Kyle Beach has come forward as one of the accusers in the Chicago Blackhawks' sexual assault investigation, which has reverberated across the NHL.

Beach told TSN he felt "alone and dark'' in the days following the alleged sexual assault by an assistant coach in 2010.

Kerr says sexual abuse in sports is likely underreported, and that there are other psychological and emotional harms that also face many athletes.

— with files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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