Students, teachers and coaches in Region Six were today educated on sexual harassment in sports at the New Amsterdam Town Hall, auditorium.
Leading the team was Minister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton, Assistant Director of Sport, Melissa Dow-Richardson and Attorney-at-Law, Leslyn Charles.
Charles told the audience that sexual harassment is a serious issue and most times the act is carried out by individuals who are in a position of trust, which in the case of sports, are coaches and officials.
“When a coach is looking out for an athlete, the coach is always in close contact with that athlete. The athlete might pull a muscle and the coach may have to assist, so they have a lot of physical contact and that is where the opening comes,” she was quoted as saying by government’s Department of Public Information.
While coaches were urged not to take advantage of athletes, parents were also called upon to pay keen attention to their children. “Some parents are so caught up with their children getting to the Olympics and to the big arena that they sometimes forget that they need to look out for those same children because if something happens along the way, that child may never get there.”
Minister Norton said the ministry will not wait for any matter raised to become uncontrollable. “I am here to emphasise the fact that it is not going to be tolerated, we do not want any such things. We have an open-door policy. We are not waiting to find anybody guilty, we are putting everybody in the know.”
Students present found the discussion very fruitful. Prenita Ramcharitar of the Berbice High School said that it is important that such information was deemed necessary to be shared with students. “It was educational and I think that all of the students here need to be aware of what is going on; the people out there and the kind of things that are happening.…” Ramcharitar stated.
Elliot Ramdhan, also of Berbice High School, said “it was very informative and most of the students, residents were not fully aware of the issue. We should be more aware of it.”
Additionally, Minister Norton highlighted that sensitisation on the matter in sports will continue countrywide so that athletes, coaches and those involved in sports know that it would not be allowed.