Let’s not forget female athletes in the fight to end sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse

Happy National Girls & Women in Sports Day! As we celebrate the extraordinary achievements of women and girls in athletics today, we must also remember the important role that sports leaders and organizations play in supporting female athletes and promoting cultures that practice respect, safety, equality on and off the field.

We know all too well that sexual violence and domestic violence prevention efforts are often focused on male athletes and that more can be done to implement programming, training and resources that are focused on female athletes and their unique needs and experiences. As part of our work to engage the sports community as a partner in prevention, the RALIANCE report, How Sport Can End Sexual Violence in One Generation Overview Report,” addresses these challenges and offers resources for how to prevent sexual and domestic violence in sports communities.

One example of an organization that is working to empower women and girls in sports is Seattle-based organization Athletes as Leaders. With help from funding from a RALIANCE grant, Athletes as Leaders developed, implemented, and evaluated a girls’ athletic leadership program as part of a comprehensive school-wide sexual assault prevention project. This program was piloted in a large urban high school and complemented the Coaching Boys into Men® program being offered to every boys’ team.

To learn more about how we are working with the sports community on ending sexual violence in one generation, please visit theSport + Prevention Center. Tweet at @RALIANCEOrg to share how you’re celebrating National Girls & Women in Sports Day and helping your community.

Sport is Part of the Solution to End Sexual and Domestic Violence – Web Conference

With millions of young people participating in sport every year, sport is uniquely positioned to take action toward ending sexual and domestic violence. Sport develops young people by teaching skills, values, and practices which can get to the root causes of sexual and domestic violence to prevent it.

Speakers Alan Heisterkamp of the University of Northern Iowa, Valencia Peterson of Open Door Abuse Awareness & Prevention, and Ward Urion of LifeWire will share how they have been able to develop partnerships with school programs, coaches, and athletes to help implement prevention strategies in athletics.

Sport can be part of the solution to ending sexual and domestic violence. Join us February 13, 2019 at 3:30 pm Eastern as RALIANCE partners with PreventConnect for an informative webinar on how you can harness the power and influence of sport to prevent sexual and domestic violence in your community. 

By the end of the presentation, participants will be able to:

1. Identify key elements of how secondary and youth athletic programs can instill personal responsibility, promote respectful behavior, in working to prevent sexual violence and relationship abuse.

2. Describe the values of partnerships between sexual and domestic violence prevention experts and high school sport programs and coaches.

3. Identify challenges and solutions to working with and within athletic programs and administrators on sexual and domestic violence prevention.


Kissing the Kiss Cam Goodbye

Ringer illustration

Recently, The Ringer’s Britni de la Cretaz wrote an article about the use of the Kiss cam in today’s athletic events, and the unintended consequences that its use can have on our sports culture and fans who come into focus of its view.   

“Kiss cams have been a mainstay of the sports fan experience for more than three decades. If you’ve been to a game recently, you’ve surely seen the stunt—during a game break, two unsuspecting members of the crowd are broadcast on the Jumbotron and prompted, by graphics or the in-arena announcer, to smooch.  It’s usually good for a laugh or two, but in an evolving world, one in which we’re having complicated and nuanced discussions about sexism, agency, and consent, it’s worth asking what role—if any—the kiss cam has in our current sports culture. What can seem like a routine in-game gimmick can come with a deeper significance.”

De la Cretaz goes on though the article to ask teams, officials and fans why the kiss cam is still being used today. Read the article here.

Raliance believes that sport can be part of the solution to end sexual and domestic violence in one generation. To learn more about resources for the sport community, check out the Sport and Prevention Center:

Fresh from Denver: RALIANCE Trains U.S. National Governing Bodies and U.S. Olympic Committee 

By Brian Pinero

Earlier this month in Denver, RALIANCE Chief Public Affairs Officer Kristen Houser and RALIANCE National Project Coordinator Brian Pinero trained members of the U.S. National Governing Bodies and the U.S. Olympic Committee on how to talk about sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse and contribute to a safe and respectful culture for all in the sport community 

The training took place over the course of two days at the offices of U.S. Center for SafeSport and focused on using common values in sport combined with the six messaging components from RALIANCE’s  most recent report, that could be used to help audiences understand how prevention is possible. Constructing messages in this way provides an effective way to introduce policies, training and culture change around sexual violence. Attendees also learned how to focus on prevention messages even when met with challenges. Using pre-developed scenarios and pivot phrases, the group practiced delivering and staying on message when met with a skepticism or critics.

Members of the governing bodies were also provided with a tool kit, developed by RALIANCE and U.S. Center for SafeSport. This tool kit contained examples on how to use values, pivot points, messaging components and designed awareness materials for use messaging prevention to coaches, athletes, staff and other members of the sport community.

To learn more about how RALIANCE is partnering with the sport community to end sexual violence in one generation, check out the Sport+Prevention Center!

Preventing Sexual Violence in Sport: Panel at APHA Annual Meeting

Sport Panelist at APHA. Left to Right: David Lee, Jennifer Yore, Katie Hanna, and Jeff Milroy

At the 2018 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in San Diego on Monday, RALIANCE’s David Lee presented at a great panel session titled “Preventing sexual violence in sport.” Along with three colleagues, they shared the opportunities for sport to be part of the solution in ending sexual violence. Each of us shared examples of comprehensive prevention efforts that involve engaging athlete, coaches and administrators in advancing sexual violence prevention within sport and how sport can take leadership in prevention efforts for the broader society.

I started the session describing the work of RALIANCE in its Sport + Prevention Center.and the report How sport can end sexual violence in one generation. In the presentation I share how our research showed that sport can promote accountability, social cohesion and self control, all of which are protective factors for sexual violence prevention. Jeffrey J. Milroy, DrPH, MPH, of the University of North Carolina Greensboro followed with his presentation on “Translating evidence into sexual violence prevention for collegiate student-athletes.”

Jennifer Yore, MPH, of Center on Gender Equity and Health (GEH), University of California, San Diego, describe the researcher think tank hosted by the GEH and RALIANCE “Sport as an incubator and accelerator for sexual violence prevention. “ which resulting the RALIANCE report Recommendations for Next Steps In Research and Evaluation. The final presentation by Katie Hanna, MEd, U.S. Center for SafeSport, “Putting Athlete Well-being First:  How the U.S. Center for SafeSport is working to champion respect and prevent abuse in sports.” Described sexual violence prevention efforts in the 50 National Governing Boards of the US Olympic movement.

This panel presentation was important to demonstrate how public health concepts of prevention can support making changes in sport in order to prevent sexual violence.

Prevention Strategies and College Football

A group of economists recently published an analysis that suggests the rise in sexual assault during big college football games is likely due to the increased partying and alcohol consumption that accompany them.

To be clear, alcohol does not cause sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse, it can, however, be used to excuse aggressive behavior and place blame on the victim. These results call on the need for prevention strategies that address behaviors that occur during big college football games.


Sport is part of the solution #BoldMoves #NSAC2018

Bold moves are not for the faint of heart. Rarely do we get up to bat for the first time and hit it out of the park. Even the greatest three-point shooters alive miss more than they make. More likely, we fail, we learn, we repeat until we succeed. This willingness to take risks, and more broadly, the ease of applying sports metaphors to our daily lives, is no coincidence: RALIANCE knows sport is part of the solution to sexual violence and plays a critical role in engaging people across the sports pipeline to end sexual and domestic violence in one generation.

RALIANCE partners with a wide-range of organizations to improve their cultures and create environments free from sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. In December 2017, we launched the Sport + Prevention Center, a first-of-its-kind online resource that engages the sport community as a partner in ending sexual and domestic violence.

The Sport + Prevention Center is first and foremost a prevention database. Users can search more than 100 sexual and domestic violence prevention strategies across the sport pipeline, from youth sports through high school, collegiate, professional, all the way to Olympic-level. The center also provides solutions based on audience, with specific options geared toward parents, coaches, athletes, and more.

We partnered with the University of San Diego Center for Gender Equity and Health to research prevention in and through sport to ensure the resource was grounded in proven research. We conducted a thorough review of the academic literature and interviewed almost 50 experts, from whom we learned that sport can be both an agent and a platform of social change. Sport can help teach and reinforce the norms of sexual violence prevention, both within the sport setting and into the world beyond. And coaches, athletes and teams have incredible social capital with which to influence the broader norms that shape our culture and our interaction with other people.

We translated these findings into a roadmap of specific action steps the sport community can take to achieve their goals. And we understood that people needed a learning exchange – a place to come together and share all of this information, best practices, lessons learned and opportunities for additional progress toward prevention.

We believe sport is a strategy for prevention and an integral part of the solution.. Join us and be a part of the solution, too. We’re at the 2018 National Sexual Assault Conference in Anaheim, California because we need #BoldMoves to end sexual violence.

How can sport make sexual violence prevention a reality?

By: Julie Patrick, RALIANCE, Alan Heisterkamp & Michael Fleming, University of Northern Iowa Center for Violence Prevention

When it comes to preventing sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse, RALIANCE and the Center for Violence Prevention are on the same page: building strong community partnerships is essential to ending sexual violence in one generation.

That’s what Drs. Alan Heisterkamp and Michael Fleming at the University of Northern Iowa will present as part of RALIANCE’s track at the 2018 National Sexual Assault Conference in Anaheim, CA. Prevention has to start during a person’s formative years and be repeated frequently, in various community settings they inhabit.

Their presentation will highlight one goal within Iowa’s broader state strategic plan to expand the conversation around preventing sexual violence: using youth sports experiences to teach healthy behaviors to thousands of young people throughout Iowa.

“Our initial goal was to reach out and partner with enough secondary school coaches across the state who could, in turn, reach 5,000 male, high school athletes with a program designed to instill personal responsibility, promote respectful behavior, and prevent sexual violence and relationship abuse,” the presenters said. “With the help of our state’s high school athletic association, we surpassed our goal is less than one year!”

With the help of a RALIANCE Impact Grant, their project called upon leadership among men and boys, utilizing male role models in the field of sports as a vehicle for positive change.

The effort looks at effective policies and practices, strong collaboration between and among local and state networks who serve youth and families, leadership to change practices when needed, and access to ongoing professional development and training on evidence-based practices.

And what will Drs. Heisterkamp and Fleming do next?

“Moving forward, we’ll focus on developing effective lines of communication, technical support and leadership opportunities for the coaches who are taking up the challenge to use their platform to transform the lives of young men through sports.”

Learn more about this presentation and the ways prevention is happening in communities across the country in our searchable online RALIANCE Impact Grant portal. If you’re interested in how sport can be part of the solution to sexual violence, visit our Sport+Prevention Center to learn more.

The Third Rail of the Ohio State Urban Meyer Decision

It has become hard to separate the fan experience from incidents of domestic and sexual violence

By: Brian Pinero

Embed from Getty Images

This week we will learn of the outcome of the investigation by Ohio State University into their head football coach Urban Meyer. Meyer, as reported previously in July, told media members that he was unaware of the alleged domestic violence incidents concerning Zach Smith, a member of his coaching staff. 

However, Meyer may not have been completely honest about his knowledge of the incidents of domestic violence with Coach Smith. And despite that past knowledge, he continued to employ Smith. We know that there was discussion between members of the coaching staff, their partners and later we learned Meyer reported to officials at the university. Yet little, if anything, was done until Smith was fired in late July when he was the subject of a civil protective order.

Even if Coach Meyer followed protocol and reported these issues to Ohio State officials, there are still significant issues with the decision to keep Smith on staff. Reporting is a requirement of these types of incidents, but it is not a sufficient response to it. In the end, continuing to employ someone who was hurting his wife runs counter to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center’s “core values,” which include “treat women with respect.”

Culture cannot live on written core values, it must be lived in practice and action.

As a viewer and fan, I’m moving to a place in my sport experience where I can’t separate athletics from incidents of domestic and sexual violence. Especially in the time of #MeToo, which showed that silence about sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse helps conceal bad behavior. We all play a role in taking a stand against those who are responsible for or complicit in these types of violence.

Mark Titus, an Ohio State alum wrote for the Ringer:

“Fans have helped Ohio State become the behemoth institution that it is. But the one thing I implore everyone in Buckeye Nation to agree on—and the one thing that the university’s administration surely should not lose sight of—is that Urban Meyer needs Ohio State much more than Ohio State needs Urban Meyer.”

Sport is bigger than anyone who tolerates or participates in domestic or sexual violence. Programs like Ohio State have to decide what they want to be as an institution. But much of that comes from what we as fans decide to concede. Fans are the third rail that powers sport. We have to decide what we want to be as supporters of the teams we love.

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