DCF and Coaches, When Trust is Broken
A confusing aspect of DCF is the lack of key individuals who can be Mandated Reporters. Mandated Reporters are required to make reports to DCF about suspected child abuse or neglect. While individuals such as teachers and police officers are Mandated Reporters, coaches are not. It is confusing for some why coaches are not included as mandated reporters. There are many stories showing coaches are not as trustworthy as some believe. While some people believe coaches should become Mandated Reporters, there are others who believe they shouldn’t be, and these stories illustrate why.
One of the most notorious cases of child abuse was committed by Jerry Sandusky, who was the assistant coach of Penn State’s football team, the Nittany Lions. Sandusky was a defensive line coach, and linebacker coach, and a defensive coordinator. Sandusky was tried and convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse, which included molesting young boys while they were taking showers. According to ESPN, one of the victims said that Sandusky referred to himself as the “”tickle monster”” (ESPN). It was revealed that then Head Coach Joe Paterno knew about Sandusky’s crimes, and did nothing to stop him. This scandal caused outrage among the public and led many to question the trustworthiness of coaches.
Another lesser known, but still serious, example of a coach committing child abuse is the case of Barry Bennell. Barry Bennell was a youth soccer coach in the United Kingdom and according to an article by Richard Pérez-Peña, written for the New York Times, Barry was convicted “of 36 counts of sexually assaulting boys aged 8 to 15, from 1979 to 1990.” (Pérez-Peña). Also, “Prosecutors said that he equipped his home with video games, exotic animals and fast food to make it attractive to boys, and that he abused them there and in his car.” Bennell, who coached for Manchester City as well as other professional teams, is just one of many soccer coaches accused and convicted of molesting children.
Abuse isn’t just committed by high level coaches. According to Pam McLoughlin of the New Haven Register, a former Milford high school hockey coach named Sal Follo was accused of using “intimidation and fear tactics on players, abusive language, targeted and humiliated players in front of the team, retaliated against players if they or their families complained and provided more “screaming and yelling,” than true coaching.” (McLoughlin). Follo was fired from this position by the school following these reports.
Also, according to Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Orlando Sentinel, Tim Manes, a coach at the Orangewood Christian school in Maitland, Florida, was accused of sexually assaulting three young boys who went to the school. Ocasio continues “he was accused of lewd and lascivious molestation of a boy in an unrelated case. He pled no contest and is now a registered sex offender.” (Ocasio). This sexual assault of the three boys was part of a bigger issue at the high school. Several staff members blatantly ignored these assaults when they were reported. This brings up questions regarding not only the trustworthiness of coaches, but of other school and church officials as well.
In North Andover, Massachusetts, according to Matthew Zoe of the Eagle Tribune, Three North Andover High School hockey coaches were accused of starving their players and not letting them drink water. The coaches were put on leave for this, and while they were found not guilty, this story shows that coaches have a lot of power over their athletes, and the wrong type of coach can abuse it.
While coaches would make great Mandated Reporters, because of their interactions with children, stories such as these show that there can be some drawbacks. Not all coaches should not be lumped together as being threats to children, however, some caution should be used in giving them the important responsibility of protecting our children.
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- “Jury Convicts Jerry Sandusky.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 23 June 2012
- Mathews, Zoe. “Andover Coaches Cleared in DCF Investigation, Will Return to Hockey Duties.” Eagle-Tribune, 16 Feb. 2018
- McLoughlin, Pam. “Report Reveals Alleged Abuse by Fired Milford Hockey Coach.” New Haven Register, New Haven Register, 16 June 2018
- Ocasio, Bianca Padró. “3 Accuse Former Orangewood Coach of Abuse amid Investigation of Church and School’s Past.” OrlandoSentinel.com, 11 Mar. 2018
- PÉrez-peÑa, Richard. “Ex-Coach for English Soccer Teams Convicted of Molesting Child Players.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 13 Feb. 2018