SportSG forming new commission to tackle sexual misconduct within sports community

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu announces at the CoachSG Conference the formation of the SafeSport Commission next year to help the sports community combat sexual misconduct. (PHOTO: Sport Singapore)

Sport Singapore (SportSG) will be forming a SafeSport Commission next year to develop guidelines to help the Singapore sports community combat sexual misconduct.

This initiative was announced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu on Wednesday (31 October) at Republic Polytechnic during her opening address at the CoachSG Conference 2018.

The commission will develop guidelines to help the local sporting fraternity have a better understanding of best practices and establish a reporting process for abuse, said Fu.

She also shared that SportSG has been working closely with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore Police Force and Ministry of Education on the initiative.

Everyone has a part to play

“I want to emphasise that, at the heart of the issue, everyone – coaches, teachers, parents, officials, and the athletes themselves – has a part to play in SafeSport,” said Fu.

“First, we have to be vigilant and pay attention to what is happening around us in training and during competitions. If we see or sense something amiss, we need to raise this with the appropriate authorities,” she added.

“Second, we need to ensure a safe space for those affected to share their concerns without fear or discrimination. Everyone in the fraternity has a responsibility in ensuring a safe environment in sports and to uphold the public trust that has been emplaced on us.”

Recent local, international cases

The impending establishment of the SafeSport Commission follows recent allegations of sexual misconduct against coaches here.

Athletics coach Loh Chan Pew is currently on trial for allegedly molesting a female teenage athlete. (FILE PHOTO: Screen shot of YouTube video)

In January, athletics coach Loh Chan Pew was charged in court with molesting a female athlete, who was 18 at the time of the alleged incident in 2013. That same month, national hurdler Kerstin Ong lodged an official complaint with SportSG, accusing another coach of misconduct.

The coach was later given a stern warning by police while Low’s trial is ongoing.

In March, a rope-skipping coach was jailed for 25 years for sexual offences against a female student, who was aged between 13 and 14 at the time. Also that month, a 28-year-old football coach was sentenced to 26 years’ jail and 24 strokes of the cane for sexually assaulting seven boys aged between eight and 11.

On the international sporting scene, the sexual transgressions committed by US Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar made global headlines. Nassar, who continued his acts of abuse for 20 years, was sentenced earlier this year to a minimum of 100 years in prison.

Sports groups take action

In the light of such incidents, CoachSG – an academy for coaches under SportSG – updated its Values And Principles In Sport course to include discussions of real incidents between coaches and their charges. The academy made it compulsory for the over 3,000 coaches in the National Registry of Coaches to attend the course.

In May, 150 participants from the sporting fraternity participated in the inaugural Safe Sport Forum and 59 national sports associations (NSAs) pledged a “zero tolerance” stance towards sexual misconduct in sports.

The NSAs are currently working with SportSG to develop each association’s commitment statement as well as appointing a safeguarding officer by next year.

The two-day CoachSG Conference 2018 saw over 200 local coaches come together to connect with and learn from one another. At the event, Fu also announced additional support from CoachSG’s programmes and initiatives for local coaches to upgrade themselves to be ready for the future.

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