Your child has made it through the final round of trying out for a sports team, you are overjoyed that their determination and hard work paid off, after all wasn’t that one of the main reasons you allowed them to join – character building, right? But you can’t understand why they are not happy, and you really are having a hard time trying to figure out why they suddenly don’t want to be on the team anymore. You decide to play detective and the clues lead you to the conclusion that your child is being bullied. One or more members from the team is doing things to purposely make them feel uncomfortable.
Types of sports team bullying
Bullying on a sports team can present itself in many ways. During my time as a Coach I’ve found that verbal bullying occurs most often. Verbal bullying can be in the form of calling a teammate a nasty name, labeling them with a nickname that can be demeaning and inappropriate, teasing or taunting a teammate who has less skill or talent, also threatening someone can be seen as verbal bullying. Bullying can occur physically such as hitting, tripping and pushing as well as rude remarks and hand gestures. Social bullying often referred to as Relational bullying can be seen as gossiping, spreading false rumors about someone, or making them feel left out or isolated.
How to prevent this from occurring
Coaches must provide adequate supervision in the locker rooms and on the field or court. They should review team rules and codes of conduct with players on a regular basis and make sure they understand the consequences which may lead to immediate dismissal from the team.
Parents and caregivers – after having a conversation with your child about the situation talk to the coach, perhaps a meeting can be set up with the person doing the bullying and their parents. Sometimes a child may not want you to interfere for fear of retaliation or perceived as being weak, if that is the case then turn the situation around and ask your child what are some things that they feel can be done to address the problem.
Team Social – Have a sort of get together for your child’s team, you could also invite the coach and parents of the players, this helps them to get to know each other better and helps the team to bond. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), bullying is widespread in the United States, in 2015 an estimated 16% of high school students reported being bullied on school property.
Bullying is a serious problem that does not stop at the youth level. Awareness is just one of the many measures that can be utilized to address this serious problem.