The restrictions imposed by the new coronavirus pandemic forced the Brazilian population to reorganize their routine. With more free time to invest in themselves, people have found in studies an interesting alternative to acquire new knowledge and enrich training. In the case of athletes and former athletes, one of the most sought-after options has been the Program on the Prevention and Confrontation of Harassment and Abuse in Sport (PCHAS), developed by the Brazilian Olympic Institute (BOI), the education branch of the Brazilian Olympic Committee (BOC).
Launched on March 13th, in the format of distance education (DED), the PCHAS has already attracted approximately 3,000 sports professionals, including over 750 athletes and former athletes. The objective of the program is to show how harassment and abuse can manifest themselves in sports, how it is possible to recognize the signs, and how organizations can face these practices, explaining actions to prevent, report, confront, and welcome victims.
“I thought BOC was so nice in providing this type of program. Not only for former athletes but mainly for those who are still athletes. We know that this exists and that many of these stories remain hidden. It is important that everyone is encouraged to study and prepare better. From my generation backward, few have had this opportunity”, says former volleyball player Ida, bronze medalist at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.
“I had never done anything like this, and I think this involvement of the BOC in issues such as harassment, abuse, and bullying is very important. We need this support in sport, where many young people leave their cities and families and end up not knowing how to deal with many situations. This program brings another perspective, and I feel more aware and prepared to offer help”, adds Isac, a midfielder from the Sada/Cruzeiro (MG) and Brazilian volleyball teams.
Free and with a 30-hour workload, the program is divided into four main themes: “What is harassment and abuse?” - definitions and categories; “Recognizing the signs” - how to identify cases of harassment and abuse; “Knowing your role” - recognize, report, and prevent; and “What can sports organizations do?” - how to prevent harassment and abuse in sports.
Learning for all ages
One of the primary brands of PCHAS has been the participation of athletes and professionals of all age groups, from those beginning their careers to those who have already built a brilliant trajectory in sports. The last cases are those of Laura Watanabe, from table tennis, and Elisângela Adriano, from athletics.
“I had already heard of abuse and harassment in sports but didn't really know what it was and how it happened, because I never witnessed such a situation”, says Laura, 16, who was part of the Brazilian team that won the Olympic sport in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. "My main learnings were knowing how to identify when someone is trying to abuse or harass you, the strategies that these people use to get what they want, and how to protect myself", completes the table tennis player.
In the case of Elisângela, Pan-American champion in the disc throw in Winnipeg 1999, one of the objectives was precisely to transmit the knowledge acquired to young people who are part of her athletics project.
“I loved the program and have been recommending it to many people. I want to take this learning to the EMAI (Elisângela Maria Adriano Institute), where I am organizing an information campaign and a denouncement channel, with phone and email”, reveals the former athlete who competed in the 1996 Atlanta, Athens 2004, and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
But the PCHAS has not only reached young and retired athletes. Those still at the height of their careers are also taking lessons from the program’s teachings.
“Most athletes, to say the least, have already been through this situation. There are certain episodes, mainly of bullying, that I saw as normal, and they are not. I saw that we cannot omit ourselves, that it is necessary to intercede when something is happening. As one of the captains of the handball team, I must be more attentive to everything that happens”, says left guard Thiagus Petrus, 31 years old, gold medalist at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and who disputed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
BOC engagement in combating harassment
Since 2018, when the Policy for the Prevention and Confrontation of Moral and Sexual Harassment and Sexual Abuse was launched, the BOC has been expanding its performance and committing to ensuring a healthy, welcoming, guidance, protected, and preventing environment. This environment makes available to athletes and agents involved in Olympic sports an open channel for reporting harassment and moral and sexual abuse. In this sense, the PCHAS appears as a new milestone in the BOC’s fight for a healthy environment in sports.
“We believe that the best path to safety in sport is knowledge. The creation of this program brought challenges, as our goal was to address a delicate but highly relevant subject, simply and objectively adapted to sports”, explains Soraya Carvalho, BOI manager.
BOC's greater involvement in combating moral and sexual harassment and sexual abuse did not go unnoticed by Brazilian athletes, who praised the initiative.
“I was in a Brazilian base team that had a history of harassment from a former coach; they found him with a girl in his room. This same coach, when I was in the youth team, came to talk to me. So, I know that it exists and that there must be many more cases than we imagine. For this reason, it is great that this concern exists”, praises Ida, who, in addition to the third place in Atlanta 1996, was a middle blocker of the women's team in Los Angeles 1984 and Barcelona 1992.
“When I was still playing at Pinheiros (SP), people sometimes talked about harassment. But, most of the time, it was with the BOC. I saw that they began paying more attention to the theme at the South American Games in Cochabamba 2018 when they were very emphatic and regarded this point a lot”, concludes Thiagus, who currently defends Barcelona (Spain).
About the Program
The Program on the Prevention and Confrontation of Harassment and Abuse in Sports (PCHAS) aims to widely disseminate the topic of harassment and abuse in sports, contributing to the culture of prevention, confrontation, and adoption of good practices, following the current legislation.
The schedule of the program is structured in the form of distance education (DED), based on video classes, theoretical content, reflections, objective assessments, and access to supporting documents. Thus, the PCHAS program intends to present information, concepts, and tools so that athletes and coaches or members of a sports organization can identify and face them.
Workload: 30 hours.
• Modalities covered: all.
• Level: basic.
• Format: Distance Education.
• Program mandatory for all who are related to the BOC, members of the Brazil Team in national and international competitions, employees, and members of the BOC, service providers, and volunteers.
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