25 May 2018
By Nicolette Mok
The sporting community joined forces to plan action against sexual misconduct at the recent Safe Sport Forum.
They have taken their stance and pledged their support.
Now, they are coming together as one community to discuss the implementation of measures to prevent and eventually, eradicate sexual misconduct in sport.
Following SportSG’s participation in the Safe Sport International Conference last month in Madrid, a Safe Sport Forum was held in Singapore for the local sporting community. Led by SportSG’s CoachSG division, it saw representatives from the National Sports Associations (NSAs), Singapore National Olympic and Paralympic Councils, Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Ministry of Education (MOE), Singapore Police Force (SPF), and more in attendance.
This was also a platform for Director and Senior Principal Forensic Psychologist at MSF Jennifer Teoh, SPF Assistant Commissioner and Commander of Clementi Police Division Jarrod Pereira, and Divisional Director of Student Development Curriculum Division at MOE Tan Chen Kee to share related information on the topic in discussion.
Teoh touched on the psychological constructs of victims and perpetrators, Pereira defined different actions that constituted sexual misconduct, elaborating on the legal side of the matter, while Tan spoke about tackling such threats in schools.
(L to R) Mrs Tan Chen Kee, Divisional Director of Student Development Curriculum Division, MOE; Ms Jennifer Teoh, Director and Senior Principal Forensic Psychologist, MSF; Jarrod Pereira, Assistant Commissioner and Commander of Clementi Police Division, SPF; Mr Malik Aljunied, Deputy Director, CoachSG; Ms Juliana Seow, President, Fencing Singapore; and Mr Toh Boon Yi, Chief, Singapore Sport Institute.
The three speakers were joined by Singapore Sport Institute Chief Toh Boon Yi and Fencing Singapore President Juliana Seow for a panel discussion, moderated by Malik Aljunied, Deputy Director of Character Leadership Development at CoachSG.
Addressing participants during his opening address, SportSG chairman Richard Seow said: “Today, we have come together for this Safe Sport Forum to reflect on our current systems and processes, and to discuss how to refine them and move forward, fostering a global standard for safe sport.”
“The responsibility is on us to make sure that our athletes are in good hands, and that we’re cultivating the absolute best environment for them – one where they can excel, chase their dreams, and single-mindedly put Singapore on the world map with their achievements,” he continued.
With increased awareness and education, Singapore – and the world – has seen a rise in cases of sexual misconduct reported in the media as more people come forward to share their experiences.
Accordingly, the local sporting community decided that it was time to go a step further, joining hands to actively ensure a safer environment for all to train and compete.
SportSG Chairman Richard Seow giving his opening address at the Safe Sport Forum.
“Never before have we had this kind of collaboration. The police have joined the effort to be an inimitable part of the education and prevention – not just a part of the punishment and cure. We have the MSF talk to us and offer to help us craft a process and narrative and share their experiences and resources,” expressed Troy Engle, Director of CoachSG.
A working group with NSA representatives has also been set up and, over the next six months, they will focus on making sure that all NSAs have “a safeguarding policy in place, with a safeguarding officer who can guide the process itself”, according to Engle.
Secretary-General of the Singapore National Olympic Council Chris Chan, too, shared that at major Games, they would appoint officials specifically to address potential safety breaches.
Other than committing to work together on policies and measures, the forum also highlighted the importance of education, and several came away with new insights, lessons, and information.
TeamSG Basketball player Lim Jia Min (top row, 2nd from left) and her charges at the ActiveSG Basketball Academy. Photo: Lim Jia Min
As ActiveSG Basketball Academy coach and TeamSG athlete Lim Jia Min noted: “Not everybody is educated on this matter and they don’t always know what to do. We learnt how not to disregard the kids’ opinions and let them know that it’s okay to talk about it. It’s time to pay more attention to them. Now, I’ll take better note of what can possibly happen.”
Apart from receiving this education themselves, the sport administrators hope to go the extra mile by helping all athletes, including the younger ones, understand the policies that will be put in place to protect them.
General Manager of Singapore Gymnastics Karen Norden, who has athletes as young as five years old under her care, emphasised the need to help the youths to feel comfortable: “Talking to them at their level and not underplaying any of it is important. [We want to maintain an athlete-centric approach and let them know that] anything that comes to us will be dealt with, giving them that confidence.”
Engle concluded: “It’s not just our duty and responsibility. It’s in our hearts to make it safe for all.”