And includes cyberbullying
The excitement of a new school year brings enthusiasm for the beginning of many youth sports seasons. As competitions get underway, coaches, activity directors and athletic staff also may become aware of instances of bullying and cyberbullying.
Children’s sports team coaches and athletic staff may be surprised to learn that the fundamentals of sportsmanship now extend to participants’ online behavior.
In the past, emphasis has been on exercising good sportsmanship on the playing field or court. Today, participants can endanger themselves or their organization with sports misconduct while online.
Examples of cyberbullying violations
It is a violation of Safe Sport risk management programs if a staff member knows or should have known of bullying behavior, but takes no action to intervene. Athletic staff need training to recognize, address and prevent such behavior.
Youth sports misconduct includes using electronic communication against someone to:
- Socially isolate
Prohibited cyberbullying behavior also includes attempts to diminish or exclude another participant physically, emotionally or sexually.
According to StopBullying.gov the most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:
- Social Media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok
- Text messaging and messaging apps on mobile or tablet devices
- Instant messaging, direct messaging, and online chatting over the internet
- Online forums, chat rooms, and message boards, such as Reddit
- Online gaming communities
State laws address cyberbullying
While there is no Federal law that specifically applies to cyberbullying, individual states have laws to protect people from bullying. Click here to see your state’s laws.
Often, it is not the staff, but other participants – such as parents or guardians – who perpetrate bullying. School sports and activity programs need to be aware that good sportsmanship applies, whether in the sport or activity itself, or online.
It is important to note that bullying does not include group or team behaviors to encourage a culture of team unity and/or harder training effort. To learn more about what constitutes bullying, see the Sadler Child Abuse Protection Program.
A participant or parent/guardian who participates in any act of bullying should be subject to appropriate disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, permanent ban, and referral to law enforcement authorities.
League organizers, sports complex managers, board members, coaches, athletes, umpires and performers involved in youth sports face unique risks.
Types of cyberbullying lawsuits
As the ease of digital communication evolves, an environment conducive to cyberbullying flourishes. A single inappropriate post or action can put you and your organization at risk. At any moment, an accusation of negligence, abuse, neglect or misconduct can be alleged, along with a lawsuit alleging bodily injury, emotional distress, personal injury, or failure to follow your own rules and bylaws if you don’t take action to address a prohibited activity.
The best way to protect yourself is to formally adopt and implement a Child Abuse Protection Plan such as the one that we have customized for our clients. In addition, you should protect yourself and your organization with the purchase of both General Liability and Directors & Officers Liability insurance. Call Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance at (800) 622-7370 to learn more or click on “get quote” in the top navigation bar above to find the custom program which best fits your needs.