The MSU Institute for the Study of Youth Sports has created three online educational modules to address the issue of abuse in sports. The free learning videos are now available to support coaches, administrators and caregivers on best practices to protect youth athletes from physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
Created in collaboration with the National Alliance for Youth Sports, or NAYS, the videos provide practical strategies to create safe environments, promote the well-being of young athletes and recognize and report abusive behaviors.
“These modules will create lasting change and make a positive difference for the estimated 40 million young people who participate in organized sport in the United States,” said MSU Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “They are also intended to rebuild trust at Michigan State University. This is one of many ways we are implementing change and prioritizing the well-being of young people to ensure no student or athlete is abused.”
Content for the modules was reviewed and approved by MSU’s Prevention, Outreach and Education Department, MSU Police and Public Safety, members of MSU’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct, or RVSM, Expert Advisory Workgroup, and leadership from The Army of Survivors, an external organization dedicated to ending sexual abuse against young athletes.
Funding for the development and evaluation of the learning modules was provided by the MSU Office of the Provost. WKAR Public Media, a university-affiliated broadcasting service, produced the videos.
“Established in 1978, our institute has spent more than 40 years researching youth sports. We understand and, in some ways, have set the standard for best practices,” said Jennifer Roth, assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Kinesiology and the project leader for the modules. “We developed the content from research from our own faculty, from decades of collaboration and conversation with coaches and administrators and from expertise by our colleagues who helped create the videos.”
Roth also noted the videos fill a gap within the field.
“There is a lack of coaching education in the U.S.,” Roth said. “A coach’s responsibility is to ensure the environment is safe for all athletes. These modules will provide a basic understanding of things that can protect athletes from abuse.”
The videos are hosted on the NAYS website. Like MSU’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, NAYS has a mission of educating youth sports leaders, volunteers and parents with training courses to ensure quality youth sport experiences. They also have partnerships with 3,000 community-based organizations around the country, extending the outreach potential.
The modules, applicable to all sporting disciplines for ages six to 18, will now undergo a round of evaluations to learn about effectiveness and areas of improvement. Every individual who watches the videos will complete a survey about their learning experience, which will help inform future edits.
“These modules are both responsive to needs within sport and progressive in their outreach to millions,” said Jerlando F. L. Jackson, dean of the College of Education and MSU Research Foundation Professor of Education. “Moreover, these videos are a testament to the commitment and to the drive of Spartans across our campus to create a free-to-use product rooted in safety and support.”