North Village became the first sports club to complete training on how to spot sexual abuse.

Eight coaches attended a seminar hosted by Saving Children And Revealing Secrets (SCARS) Monday night at First Baptist Church.

The eight coaches all received a certificate verifying they have completed the Stewards of Children programme that took them through the Seven Steps to Protecting Children.

One of the stats the coaches learned was that according to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) one in four girls and one in six boys face some type of sexual abuse by the time they are 18.

If that holds true in the Bermuda context, then around 10,000 people in Bermuda have had some type of sexual abuse in their life.

North Village has approximately 200 children in its care through its various programmes.

Jeremy Salaam, technical director for North Village’s youth programme, said this was important information to glean to help protect children from abuse.

“It’s about protecting children. We learned about the signs of these type of abuses. It was very informative. There are some things we may have overlooked.”

Policy rethink

Salaam said always having two adults around when a child is present should give parents peace of mind, while also protecting coaches from accusations.

One of the discussion points at the seminar was at the end of practice, quite often there is a child who does not get picked up on time and a coach is left at the field with the young footballer.

“We weren’t really aware of those ratios and now we can go back and rethink and put those policies in place.”

He said other clubs could benefit from the SCARS seminar, while PJ Coddington, director of sports at North Village, added: “Not only should all the sports clubs should do it, but the Minister of Youth, Sports and Recreation should be saying to all sports clubs this is mandatory.

“We have so many things happening in our society that this is good preventative maintenance to have this done in advance before something happen. This isn’t just for the individual sports clubs, but for all of Bermuda.”

Jon Brunson, executive director at SCARS said: “North Village are going to be the trailblazers for other sporting organizations to demonstrate how serious they are about the protection of children.”

By Don Burgess, Deputy Editor Bermuda Sun