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abuse or bad practice?

Discussion in 'UK' started by UGA2016, Apr 19, 2018.

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  1. Came across this blog post on Facebook. It talks about British Gymnastics 'gold standard' safeguarding policies then follows up with a story from a gymnast talking about her time in the gym (at the end of the piece). The article puts some questions out there as to how bad coaching practices come to exist. Where is the line between bad practice and abuse and what happens when it is crossed?

    PS. Skip the first paragraph if you are not into research or psychology its a bit heavy.

    https://warriorsinleotards.com/2018/04/16/reflections-from-a-gymnast/
     
  2. I am not from the UK but that is absolutely emotional and verbal abuse. We saw bits of it from the coach at our old gym and it was as damaging to my daughter as sexual abuse can be for others. A year later she is finally doing better. Read the “Geddert is not the only Geddert in the coaching world...” article that is linked at the bottom of the one you shared.

    Gym owners, parents, other coaches need to stand up for these kids who are treated badly by these Geddert-like coaches. And some treatment may not be as blatant as John Geddert’s behavior but it can sneak in subtle ways and people may not even recognize it as abuse at first.
     
  3. Thanks for posting the link. Very interesting, and nice to know there's someone else out there who is interested in the sociology of gymnastics!
     
    UGA2016 likes this.
  4. That is a pretty horrific account. Doesn’t seem like a gold standard I’d want to be a part of.
     
    duyetanh, GymMom4 and UGA2016 like this.
  5. what if a school teacher treated a 9 year old like that? They would be struck off!
     
    PinPin and PinkZooKeeper like this.
  6. that is what I always say to parents asking 'is this acceptable' . Would you accept it from your child's teacher at school?
     
  7. Completely agree with you.
    I always find it fascinating what parents will accept from gym coaches, football coaches etc but would be up in arms if it was a school teacher!
     
    BachFlyer, Jard.the.gymnast and Jenny like this.
  8. If I went to the head teacher/board of governors/ education department about issues such as these I am pretty sure appropriate action would be taken. I would even go as far as to say if a parent of another child reported concerns relating to similar issues something would be done. Unfortunately, in sport the boundaries for what is deemed acceptable is way off course for adult behaviours in other child related institutions.Parents learn to accept an awful lot as they see other children treated badly with no-one in a position of authority suggesting it's wrong. I am aware of parents who have taken their concerns regarding alleged abusive practice to the governing body only for the issues to be minimised and effectively dismissed. Until the culture changes stories such as this will continue, everyone needs to be on the same page for abuse to be eradicated from the sport.
     
    Jenny likes this.
  9. An interesting read. Not an easy read. It’s never easy hearing about experiences in the gym that we wouldn’t wish any child to go through. Over my years of coaching I’ve found that the expectations of parents from clubs in teens of being more transparent have increased. Parents are more assertive in wanting to know what the process and goals of the training are, what the coaches’ methods and motivations are. They want to be able to watch training sessions. Some coaches find this offputting and I get that but we behave and act better when we know we are being watched. I’m all for transparency. Parents are more aware of codes of conduct and safeguarding policies too. The culture has changed. Parents will expect to see a club’s code of conduct and they will know to contact British Gymnastics if they think something is seriously wrong at their club. The NGB’s presence is much stronger these days and parents know to turn to it.
     
    PinPin likes this.
  10. I would love to believe the culture has changed, however my own experience and that of those I have talked to over the past 6 months suggests we still have a long way to go. I believe parents are more aware of the issues and many clubs are aiming for transparency and in fact are good clubs, following BG's ethical standards and implementing an holistic approach to coaching (child before gymnast). Unfortunately, there appears to be an issue with BG's handling of complaints when parents take their concerns to them, a recent Facebook thread had over 50 replies with a number of posters stating BG had ignored their concerns for what they considered bad/abusive practice and they were left with a situation where they/their children were stigmatised and had to leave. It is stories such as these that put others off from reporting issues and gives the impression BG are not doing their job. Obviously I do not know the in's and out's of their complaints and without knowing the details it is impossible to say whether BG have acted accordingly, however, with my own complaint I can put my hand on my heart and say BG failed in their duty of care and allowed abusive practice to continue for a number of years. It is due to my own experiences I can wholeheartedly say the culture has not changed, we are heading in the right direction but without the necessary changes in attitude from those who matter in BG it will be a very slow process. Changes need to be made from the top down to eradicate abusive coaching.
     
  11. I’m sorry to hear about your experience and I have read a fair amount online over the past year of other people with similar struggles. What I meant about a change in culture is it seems that more people;
    A) Know how and when to step forward
    B) Have the confidence to do so

    And that’s important because it draws others out to come forward too. The next steps are absolutely responding and dealing with complaints alongside implementing change so these practices cease. I couldn’t agree more.
     
    UGA2016 likes this.
  12. A few weeks ago Catherine Lyons cited the reasons for her retirement as physically, mentally and emotionally abusive coaching. The responses I saw were quite mixed. Many comments were supportive, some suggested they were not surprised and one poster went as far as to say the abuse against Catherine was an 'open secret' and many adults had failed her. Not surprisingly coaches/parents who currently/have recently been involved with Catherine former coaches stood up to defend them stating they are not aware of any issues and any allegations are unfounded and purely speculation.

    No one but Catherine and her coaches truly know what has happened, but for me it was a brave move for Catherine to speak about her retirement and the reasons leading to it. It has taken two years for her to go public with that information and to my knowledge no retirement announcement was ever officially made yet some people felt the need to disparage her announcement suggesting the post was fake, that they had never experienced any issues with her coaches/club and that her parents were only making a fuss because their Olympic dream is over. In my mind, this is a form of victim shaming and indicative of a culture that accepts abusive coaching practices as par for the course.

    Something to consider is why would Catherine make a statement such as this two years after retiring if there is no substance to the claim? It is obviously not a reactionary claim as that would have been made straight after Rio and others within the gymnastics community are supporting and in some instances corroborating her comments. I hope this gives others the courage to speak about their experiences, whether that's to their friends, parents, an adult or to BG as the only way to stop abuse is to talk about it.
     
    Annikins, kecks, Jenny and 4 others like this.
  13. I saw that post & it brought tears to my eyes. I had heard various rumours but this was the first time I had seen something as definite as this from Catherine (there have been hints from her previously). I think she is very brave to speak up & i think we probably need more in the UK to speak up. I believe that verbal & mental abuse is commonplace in clubs across the UK (not necessarily all clubs). Only Catherine knows the reason for the timing my guess is that sufficient time has passed to allow her to come to terms with it.I think it is a shame that people are not supportive, I believe it was her coach that was investigated by the Met and also note the dispersion of gymnasts from that club to others. I believe the Met did not charge the coach but that does not mean that nothing happened just that there wasn't sufficient evidence to take the case further. I do believe that BG should have carried out their own investigation (and if they did be made know to its members). I also believe in the wake of the USAG events, especially the part where the gymnasts are blaming the culture, that BG should be doing a review of the UK clubs to ensure the "toxic" culture does not exist here. I feel that they only concerned with medal counts and turn a blind eye to other things.

    As a parent we are generally powerless with nowhere to take our concerns, I believe there should be somewhere independent that we can report concerns (I guess similar to the banking ombudsman). Possibly run by UK sport which covers a number of sports and oversees funding.

    Another interesting point, a lot of coaches I have seen potentially "crossing the line" are often former elite gymnasts. Maybe they don't realise what they are doing as this is the way they are used to!
     
    Annikins and Chocolate99 like this.
  14. I have definitely seen a situation where a person who suffered psychological abuse as an athlete replicated those training methods as a coach.
     
    Annikins likes this.
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