Sexual Harassment is defined by Webster’s as: : uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate (as an employee or student).
A 15-year-old boy, whom I love dearly, recently confided to his mother that his golf coach has been sexually harassing and bullying the team. Of course, those weren’t the terms he used. While he understands that this is serious, he has been pretty mortified to realize just how serious it is.The coach regularly belittles the kids by announcing how big their, ahem, private parts are in relation to how they’re playing (Small D***, Big D***, referring to one’s “Anaconda”, ect). Besides the incredibly crude names he assigns the boys and their reproductive organs, he has spent plenty of time bragging about the size of his own to them (“I’m as tall standing up as I am laying down” –Seriously?!). From what I’ve heard, if you can come up with a name for “it”, he’s addressed it as such. Apparently, though, he’s not completely obsessed with children’s private parts. He also gives fair time to making sure they are aware of the many other ways they are inadequate, like whether or not they’re fat. He suggested that one kid could use another’s belly fat to grow his you-know-what.
His mother and I have been completely FLOORED by the number of people who have shrugged this incident off as “just athletics”. That’s just how coach’s act sometimes. Really? Really?? REALLY?? The coach who is substituting now informed this child that he broke a “man-code” by going to his mom first. Shut the front door. Even influential men in this child’s life appear to buy into the “just athletics” theory. And I am ANGRY. Firstly, if that’s how athletics are, then screw athletics. If athletics were belittling and perverted, then why would be let our kids play? Secondly, hearing about how athletics are from a person who is not an athlete is idiotic. I know athletes. I’ve talked to them (they’re not very difficult to come by), and there seems to be a consensus among them that having a coach discuss everyone’s penis size is not ok.
People should be encouraging this child and praising him for having the guts to do the right thing. If you are a child who has been spoken to this way by an authority figure (or God-forbid, more than that), you have a right to say something. If the person you tell does not begin fighting for you, KEEP TALKING UNTIL SOMEONE DOES. I shudder to imagine that a pervert like this is out on the golf course, alone with teenage boys everyday. Even if my worse-case scenario is wrong (I hope it is), then he’s still influencing kids to think that this behavior is ok. We are so desensitized, but maybe we could choose to not let our kids be. Maybe we could be courageous enough to deal with people like this.
I’ve tried to imagine what would happen if this were my child. I hope that the people in his life would never allow him to feel like he’s overreacting. I hope that he would understand that he does not ever deserve to be belittled by an authority figure and that he always has the right to say something. I hope that he would understand that sometimes doing the right thing is hard, but it’s worth it. And most of all, I hope that the people in his life would fight for him.
Bottom line, if you are an adult who knows about an incident like this one and are not doing something about it, then you’re part of the problem. People who are too cowardly to stand up for the innocence of our children are contributors. Not doing anything is like saying that it’s ok. Bullies succeed because most people are afraid to face them. I’m so proud that this boy, who holds a piece of my heart, was wise enough to know that something was wrong and brave enough to talk about it. I pray that any other child in his shoes will talk about it. It’s not ok. It’s not just athletics. Sexual harrassment should not be a part of ANY child’s life. It’s NOT ok.
One more time, for the record, it’s NOT OK.