The helplessness of the innocent | sports

The helplessness of the innocent | sports


According to studies compiled by the Council of Europe (EC), one in five children is a victim of sexual abuse. The statistics, presented by various entities such as UNICEF, the International Labor Organization, the World Health Organization and the NGO Save the Children, also reveal that minors suffer at least 50% of these crimes on underestimated figures, since only 15% of cases are reported. Of that 15%, 70% never comes to trial. Despite the harshness of these data, the lack of effective prevention, detection and reporting policies remains the main obstacle to addressing sexual violence against children and adolescents in all areas, including sports.

Waiting for the development in 2019 of the Law of Comprehensive Protection against Violence against Children –whose preliminary draft announced the Government in the last Council of Ministers of 2018-, the only specific legal framework is defined by the Lanzarote Convention, signed by the 47 member states of the EC and in force since July 2010. Beyond that text, the action of Spanish organizations in 2018 against harassment and The sexual abuse of minors in sports activities is limited to episodic awareness campaigns without monitoring, structure, protocol, or legislation to protect children effectively. A global scourge whose management remains in the hands of the courage of the survivors themselves.

Until the Council of Europe took last November his testimony Gloria Viseras, a Spanish gymnast of the 80s denounced in 2012 his coach, Jesús Carballo, for having abused her between 12 and 15 years. Now he has 53. "I decided one day that I was not going to shut up anymore and that I was going to work so that this would not happen to any child, or to the least possible, "Viseras says, after breaking the silence, founded the organization Gold, Silver and Bronze, which works to raise awareness about the violence suffered by athletes and to eliminate the risk factors integrated in this environment. "It is a problem that must be faced from top to bottom, because the clubs do not have the resources or the knowledge to tackle a global protection strategy," says the ex-gymnast. "There should be a protection delegate in each club and in each federation, a figure that exists in Europe, in England especially, but not in Spain. It has to be something that begins in the Superior Council of Sports (CSD), that goes down to the national federations, and from there to the regional ones and the clubs. But everyone is terribly afraid of opening this Pandora's box, "says Viseras, who participates in several projects.

His intervention in the Council of Europe is part of the initiative Start to Talk, that since last year counts on the testimony of survivors of abuses and collaborates in numerous plans of awareness. In the summer the Voice program concluded [proyecto Erasmus+ de la Comisión Europea] who has studied the stories of 72 victims of sexual abuse in sport. In January 2018, I Protect began to develop, another Erasmus + project co-financed by the European Commission. It is a platform e-learning, which has as a partner the CSD, aimed at athletes, family members, coaches and managers who will finish their work in 2020. Visors has also been involved in the development of five prevention guides for the campaign #AbuseOutsideGame financed by the CSD with the support of UNICEF.

Barriers arise when you move from theory to practice. "Projects are born and die, many without monitoring or balance. There is a lack of a general plan, a 5 or 10 year road map for the protection of minors in each area, "Viseras claims. "Just as there is a General Subdirectorate for Women and Sport, there should be one for the minor and sport. But there is not an office. Someone to coordinate all these jobs and supervise them. A place where you can go to ask for help and where athletes, families or coaches can find advice to report cases. There is not a subject in INEF, this is not talked about. I collaborate with the CSD and I think there is a will, we have made a lot of progress and things are being done, but there is still a lot to be done, "the ex-gymnast reiterates. Faced with the lack of effective mechanisms, he acknowledges having received particular requests for help and advice and several testimonies from victims in each conversation he conducts.

"There are no tools"

In the Superior Council of Sports, the explanation of the chief of staff, Conchi Bellorín, endorses the administrative stagnation before the problem. "We have to start creating the tools, which today do not exist, is a reality. We are in it, we are going to generate a platform, an observatory to articulate a protocol for the different collectives, and to reach all the citizenship ", assumes exjudoka. "We need to know in what situation we are moving. We lack data to establish a road map. The idea is that in the next three years we will generate a structure to see where we need to go. That is the next step. We do not understand the protection of the child as something unitary, but as something transversal, "says Bellorín.

"The federations have the protocol that we are updating. In the CSD there is no specific figure of defense of the child, so we want to create the observatory, "Bellorín repeats, while acknowledging that not all federations have incorporated this protocol and in" some "it is not even found on its website (one of the conditions to receive government grants). One of the websites in which the Protocol for the prevention, detection and action against harassment and sexual abuse is that of the Federation of Gymnastics, as recognized by its director of communication, Andrea Caicoya, who did not attend the request of this newspaper to detail the circumstance and the procedure that is applied in his body to comply with the regulations.

Gloria Visors, in the presentation of the camapaña #abusosenfueradejuego
Gloria Visors, in the presentation of the camapaña #abusosenfueradejuego

The aforementioned protocol, approved by the full Senate in 2013 to "sensitize and promote the application of ethical codes and conduct for coaches (…)", includes striking paradoxes regarding the procedure of action. To address the situations of harassment and abuse, according to the text, it will be the president of the federation on duty who will appoint a "protection delegate" and head an "advisory committee" also composed of federation personnel "(preferably with knowledge of Law , Psychology and Medicine) ". Everything, without external agents to elucidate the procedure. Currently, the only filter that is requested from coaches, like any teacher, is the negative certificate of conviction for sexual crimes against minors.

Last Friday, the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, announced the approval of the preliminary draft of the Organic Law for the Integral Protection of Children and Adolescents in the Face of Violence, with the intention of giving an urgent procedure to the law so that it can be approved between March and April. But, while the policy continues the variegated path to move from awareness to legislation, there are already spaces that have incorporated methodologies to dismantle the claustrophobic environments and prevent abuse, as in the Artistic Gymnastics Club of Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid) . "I realized that the system did not work when after going through high-performance training, the gymnasts, already adults, confessed that it had not been a good experience and that to some extent had negatively marked their lives. That made me question the methods we used. I was shocked that only after several years away from gymnastics were they able to tell me about their experience; They explained to me that telling me was a kind of betrayal for them and they felt bad about it. If this happened, it was a clear signal that something was wrong, "explains Sylvia García, the club's technical director who, for three years, has been working on a project coaching sports with gymnasts and families to encourage open communication and mark the boundaries of trainers in a healthy atmosphere.

Emergency procedure to avoid the May electoral period

The approval in the Council of Ministers of the Draft Organic Law of Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents in the face of Violence on December 28 will now continue urgent procedure for the Congress to be approved between March and April, as the Government intends. These deadlines would avoid delays in their processing if extended to May, during the period of European, regional and municipal elections that would paralyze the process.

"The preliminary draft includes a set of measures to prevent violence, to train groups that are closer to boys and girls, and to change the judicial processes in crimes of violence against boys and girls, which will imply, if approved, the most important child protection framework in the European Union, and would place Spain at the forefront of Europe in the protection of children against violence, "the executive director said on Friday. Save the Children, Andrés Conde.

The norm incorporates a broad definition of violence that covers any type of physical, psychological and emotional abuse, including physical punishment or negligent treatment. The statute of limitations for sexual abuse of minors will begin to count when the victim turns 30, and not 18, as is currently the case.

"It's more important to make good people than good gymnasts. The system of fear and submission works. The 80s were the golden age of gymnastics and everyone used the whip system. That system forges champions, but is it worth paying that price? With other methods you can also and institutions should bet on them, investing in specific training for coaches, managers and clubs, "Garcia continues. Pozuelo's bet is firm. "We believe in what we do. We have broken with the old and devastating methods. You have to open your eyes to change the training system and have laid the foundations for it, the first is to bet and invest in the training of technicians in these fields, a technician is a trainer of people, needs a comprehensive training, not only sports, "says Garcia.

The bet of Pozuelo

The method of Pozuelo places the trainer at the service of the children, fleeing from the dynamics of dependence and deification of the student towards the tutor and breaks with the dark and dictatorial environments where abuses have historically been created. Explains Ángela Domínguez, coach of the club. "We are not machines that reproduce movements or create automata for competition. The authoritarian methodology is obsolete because it does not take into account the learning processes of the athlete for its development: there is no dialogue but imposition and fear, "says Dominguez.

"Here we do a mental and emotional training because we are in a sport in which fears and injuries are the order of the day. In these first months of the season we have worked on goal setting, frustration, blockages … Body awareness is also fundamental. We perform dynamics that have to do with movement, painting and play. This sport does not give rise to much communication, you go up to the parallels or you go out to the floor exercise and you are alone; art is a language that facilitates all this to channel fears, empathize, find solutions … ", explains Angela, who was on the national team. He retired with 17 years of age due to an injury and has been in the club for 15 years after training in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences (CCAFyD) and pursuing a Master's Degree in Psychology. Coaching.

The experience of Angela, who recommends reading Instrumental of James Rhodes to understand the victims, is based on the physical and emotional sensations that he experienced in his professional stage. "In my first years as a trainer, when I left the gym, I went home with a feeling of absolute discomfort. There was something that was not going well and was, simply, the method. When they ask me where is the line between discipline and humiliation, I always say look inside, that you feel in your gut. But for that you have to feel. Only if you lose touch with your humanity, will you be able to treat a minor unjustly and go home so calmly. Now I feel peace as I enter and leave the gym every day. "

Among the keys is full confidence in the athlete. "A mother told me once that I was a goddess for her daughter. 'I'm just his coach,' I replied. A coach does not have to carry that weight, you have to break that dependency. It's easier to denounce a professional who has done his job badly than someone you idolize, "he says. "Abusers have the opportunity to abuse the silence of others. We have to break that silence. There is a great helplessness and we do not intend to save all the children, but if we manage to avoid a second abuse, we will have done a lot, "Domínguez closes.



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