National sports associations (NSAs) and clubs in Singapore have adopted measures to prevent the sexual abuse of athletes, but officials say greater education and vigilance are key to reducing the risk of such incidents taking place at all.
On Nov 21, rope-skipping coach Roger Yue Jr, who is accused of committing various sexual offences against a teenage student between late 2008 and late 2010, went on trial in the High Court.
In the United States, Larry Nassar, who served as the USA Gymnastics team physician through four Olympic Games, has pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct. Over 100 women have accused him of assaulting them, including Olympic champions.
In 2016, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) investigated 107 reports of sexual abuse of children under 16. This was 30 per cent more than the 82 cases in 2015 and more than double the 45 cases in 2009. In most cases, the perpetrator was a family member.
While last year’s figures are preliminary, an MSF spokesman said the increase in the number of reports is partly due to more professionals, from social workers to educators to healthcare staff, having been trained by MSF to spot abuse. The ministry has also introduced more rigorous screening tools that have improved the detection, reporting and management of child abuse cases.
The Singapore Children’s Society has also started a programme to teach pre-schoolers how to protect themselves, by teaching them the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching, and what to do if they have been sexually abused.
Here’s how to spot the signs of sexual abuse in children – and how to prevent the possibility, especially when they do sports.
Text: Shenielle Aloysis, Nicole Chia & Theresa Tan/ The Straits Times
Singapore Gymnastics (SG) general manager Karen Norden said that a key standard operating procedure at the association is that it does not allow its coaches to be in the gym on a one-on-one basis with athletes.
A similar practice is adopted at Swimfast Aquatic Club, founded by former national swimmer David Lim. At least one coordinator is usually present at each of the club’s training sessions (60 per week), with newer coaches receiving guidance from more senior coaches in their first six months.
When it comes to doctors, you and your child have the right to ask a female nurse to be present in the examination room as well. Doing so makes the possibility of a sexual attack much less likely, and your child will also have a witness if things go wrong.