Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Preventing Sexual Abuse in Martial Arts

I originally posted this on April 22, but I am reposting it because another instructor has besmirched the integrity of our "profession." Again, I strongly urge parents, school owners, and instructors to work together to enact strict measures to protect our vulnerable students.

This is not good! I have long thought that there needs to be more "self-policing" by the martial art school owners in this respect. I have been a Scout leader for several years, and martial arts instructor for many, many more, and I can tell you that there needs to be common sense on the part of school owners, instructors, and parents to protect our kids. How? Please consult with your state laws, but, like the policies the Boy Scouts have implemented, most are common sense.

For school owners and instructors:
  • DON'T ever be alone with a child without another adult or group of students present or visible. For example, if you have to discipline a student (assume child), move to an area that's not in front of the class, but off to the side, or in a clearly visible area. In my schools, we had offices with doors, but they had windows to class areas or to the outside so that there was visibility. It was also to watch for foot traffic outside and observe classes, but also so that there wouldn't be a doubt as to what may have occurred in an office.
  • Do not touch a child (or any student or co-worker) in a way that may be construed as sexual, improper, or coercive. Train your instructors and assistants in the same.
  • DO require criminal background checks for all instructors, including volunteers. It may be free from your local police department, and will go a long way toward reassuring prospective students and parents that you are conscious of this.
  • DO keep an eye on what's going on in your mixed (adult-child) classes, and don't allow adult male students to be in locker rooms or other changing areas alone with underage students.
  • For trips to tournaments or seminars, DO require a number of parent chaperones that makes sense logistically. DON'T take the kids yourself without a parent or other instructor there. While away, do not let students wander on their own - buddy system and regular check-in are recommended. Let the age of the students determine that.

For parents:

  • As above, make sure a school has the criminal background checks in place (ask to see a written policy that you can have a copy of), as well as the policies about being alone with students and that all training areas are visible to the public. Background checks should include fingerprinting of prospective instuctors.
  • If you have a "strange/funny feeling" about something, go with your instincts. It's YOUR responsibility to protect your child. Don't entrust that to anyone, no matter how much you respect them, unless systems and policies are in place to ensure compliance.
  • Be involved, and talk with your child so that you will know if something doesn't seem right.
  • If something does happen, do everything you can to put away the molester so that it doesn't happen again to other kids. We need to stick together to protect our kids from the monsters that prey on them.

Those are my thoughts on it. As I said, common sense...

1 comment:

Charlie on the PA Turnpike said...


I, too, am a trained Boy Scout leader, and I can agree with you on these points.