Saturday, April 06, 2013

Is YOUR Child's Coach Abusive?

Abuse comes in many forms: sexual, physical, verbal and emotional. Recent headlines show us that some of America's "top" college coaches (Penn State & Rutgers to name only two) have gotten away with various forms of abuse for many years.

But what about abusive coaches, or even physical education teachers, in public schools? Are they immune from lashing out inappropriately towards their charges? Apparently not.

Over the last 20+ years, I've heard many stories ranging from the yelling of profanities at players who weren't moving quickly enough to making a group of team members who acted out on a bus trip clean buses at the bus barn ... a situation that brought some notoriety in the form of negative headlines to our district.

More recently, a parent asked me several months ago if I'm aware of how fundraising was handled for a certain Greece Central School District sports team. I wasn't. So, the parent explained that $300 per team member was due early every fall, shortly after school opens. To keep the individual student from being "punished" by the team's coach, parents who could afford to do so would send in the money ASAP and worry about the fundraising later. The other poor kids with parents who depended upon the fundraising scrambled to meet the $300 mark every year. If they fell short and didn't make the deadline, the students were/are punished by being forced to go on a very long run, a run that has earned it a name known among team members as something to be avoided at all costs.

Is this abusive behavior? I think so. Apparently so do a number of parents. But just like we've learned in the headline news cases, fear is powerful. It keeps otherwise smart people silent ... so their kids get to keep playing, keep hoping, keep dreaming and just maybe earn a scholarship to college for their talent, their troubles and their silence. It primes them to tolerate worse abuse later on. Abuse the parents pay for with hard-earned paychecks so that the Jerry Sandusky and Mike Rice types can earn individual fame and fortune on the backs of their kids.





Anonymous said...

Craziness. Dying to know what group has to pay $300 per student to be I a sport!!!! Also to punish the kids whose parents cant afford it. Ridiculous!!!! Now I have heard from many kids at Craig hill that they have been told they were overweight by their gym teacher. Not one kid but all as a group. Atleast he didn't call one kid out on front of all. But really does a 4th grade girl or boy be worrying about how skinny or not they are??? They all need to chill out!

Anonymous said...

Many JV teams are really club teams that claim affiliation with a school, so they need to fundraise because they don't get budgeted money.

Some, though not all, of the “abusive” behavior you mention seems more like discipline than punishment. Coaches (and teachers more generally) should have corrective and disciplinary authority, though I would reserve punitive authority to administrators.

And overweight kids (BMI over 25) should be told that's where they stand. Ditto for obese kids (BMI over 30). For the morbidly obese (BMI over 40), there probably needs to be some formal response, whether medical evaluation or counseling of parents, etc.

Kids need to learn about health, and they need to know where they stand with respect to risk factors. That is just responsible education.

SCATS said...

To 5:15AM ~~ The mindset behind your comments raises a lot of questions with me ... and a few red flags too! I believe that people with views similar to yours create the pathway that allows these coaches to BE ABUSIVE!

First of all, let's get our definitions straight.

Punishment: The infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense.

Discipline: The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

Since when did fundraising become a school activity requiring any form of either punishment or discipline or any other consequence (it's supposed to be for "charity") for either not participating or for falling short of some pre-determined goal???? WHO sets that goal?? WHERE is the policy/procedure spelled out in GCSD documents?? WHAT forms of consequences are appropriate??? Decided by whom???I am POSITIVE this is NOT addressed in the district's discipline code!!!

As for Craig Hill's gym teacher's bad behavior, your point is way offbase! Only trained medical personnel (in this case school nurse or district physician) should be rendering such opinions (it is a DIAGNOSIS!!) after careful collection of the required information. IF an issue is found, it is appropriate to bring it to the parent's attention while preserving the confidential nature of that information out of R-E-S-P-E-C-T for that student who is still a minor!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey SCATS - apparently what you DON'T know (gasp - horrors!!) is that the NYSED made it a requirement that schools (yes, PE teachers AND nurses) have to collect BMI information on every student starting at 4th grade AND REPORT IT to NYS Health Dept. Obtaining and sharing a BMI is NOT a diagnosis - it's information that, when used in combination with OTHER information that IS medical in nature (lipid panel, cholesterol levels, etc) COULD lead to a diagnosis.
Here is the information for you:

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 3, 2008) – To help guide childhood obesity prevention efforts in New York State, beginning this month selected public schools will begin reporting aggregate body mass index (BMI) data to the New York State Health Department.

Legislation passed by the State Legislature in 2007 requires public schools outside of New York City to collect and report a summary of students' weight status beginning this month. To protect student privacy, no personal identifying information will be reported.

"Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in New York," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "The students' weight data collected and reported with the assistance of school health professionals will help the state, counties, communities, and school districts better assess what actions are needed to address this threat to our children's health."

Daines noted that obesity is associated with increased prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in children, a form of diabetes previously seen only in adults. In adults, obesity contributes to many chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, and some types of cancer. Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity continue to be the leading causes of obesity.

For many years the State Health Department has collected data on infectious diseases to guide the state's communicable disease prevention efforts. "By collecting vital weight status information, we can begin to treat obesity like other public health threats and better target our prevention efforts," said Commissioner Daines.

The law requires BMI and weight status categories (based on BMI-for-age percentiles) to be included on each student's Health Certificate at school entry (pre-kindergarten or kindergarten) and in grades 2, 4, 7 and 10. While all students in the specified grades are required to have BMI and weight status information reported to their school, parents may request to have their child's weight status information excluded from the summary submitted by schools to the State Health Department.

A 2004 survey of oral health, physical activity and nutrition among New York third-graders revealed that 21 percent of these children were obese. Research shows that the risk for future health problems can be greatly reduced by promoting healthy eating and increasing physical activity beginning in preschool-aged children.

To help prepare for implementation this school year, the BMI reporting requirement was pilot tested during the 2007-2008 school year with voluntary participation by 97 schools from 34 school districts and 24 counties. The pilot program helped create the statewide reporting system, with schools submitting aggregate data electronically via the department's Health Provider Network, a secure software system already used by schools to report aggregate immunization data.

Each year 50 percent of schools will be required to report student weight status information to generate representative estimates of childhood obesity rates for each county and for the state as a whole, exclusive of New York City. Schools required to participate this school year must report the information by January 29, 2009.

SCATS said...

To 7:50AM ~~ Excuse me but your little nugget of info has been applied TOTALLY OUT OF CONTEXT(gasp - horrors!!). Reporting BMI's to the State Health Dept. is NOT the same as a gym teacher telling a class they are all fat!

Anonymous said...

Read it again, SCATS. This time for meaning (take your own advice). I wasn't pointing out anything about what the phys. ed. teacher ALLEGEDLY said. Were you there? Was the other poster who raised this concern there? No. Neither was I; hence, my conscious decision not to address that part of your rant. Your words "only trained medical professionals..." blah, blah, what I was providing information to counter.

SCATS said...

To 2:46PM ~~ There's NOTHING I need to read again. YOU brought up a non-issue to the discussion at-hand (the new requirement for collection of BMI info) in an attempt to try to make it sound/appear as if the gym teacher was OK in what he/she did without actually addressing (your "conscious decision") it or any of the other concerns/questions raised here! Guess what? YOU don't get away with changing the topic, no matter what "new requirements" you choose to blather on about!!

Once again, YOUR MINDSET raises a lot of questions with me ... and a few red flags too! I believe that people with views similar to yours create the pathway that allows these coaches to BE ABUSIVE!

Anonymous said...

Yes, by all means,talk to your kids which in most cases would be a novel experience. Ask them how many teachers, not only gym teachers, are subjected to insults and outrageous language directed at them during the course of any class they attend. Then ask them how the teacher dealt with it. T know,I know, it goes with the turf you say and after all, this is an example of kids just being kids. When I hear this head-in-the sand comment, it makes me sick.
This statement does not have the ramifications it did say 20 or 30 years ago. Today's kids just being kids does not apply any more in any rational sense. It has obvious deadly outcomes. So don't cop out to that old hole in the head excuse for the behavior of today's kids. Please, as a parent, take responsibility for
their unsatisfactory behavior and lack of R E S P E CT not only for their teachers, but all adults as well. Granted, a teacher calling students in his/her charge fat, while probably true, might well be handled a little more discretely. The question in my mind would be was this said as an insult or an attempt to help these overweight students deal
with health issues that their parents choose to ignore and simply encourage them to eat their French Fries and gravy.

SCATS said...

To 6:01PM ~~ Am I supposed to read between the lines and connect the dots from your rant about how kids talk to teachers to how coaches inflict abuse on team members?? The TOPIC IS ABOUT ABUSIVE COACHES ... and/or physical education teachers.

As for the way the kids talk to school employees, look in the mirror to see the problem. If YOU allow it, it's YOUR ISSUE! I've yet to witness a Greece employee take any of these kids to task, so the message to them is clear: verbal abuse of teaching staff is acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Don't look now SCATS, but the requirement isn't new. It began in 2008. Sorry, you are out of your league on this one.

Anonymous said...

Based on the 'sounds of silence' coming from the other Greece parents, they are ok with the abuse their kids get subjected to. Does it happen? YES!!!!!!!! From young boys learning to swing the Little League bat to high school boys beating each other with hockey sticks, the culture supporting the different kinds of abuse is very much alive on Greece fields and in the gyms. I've seen it myself.

Parents are driven by the lure of money that comes by way of scholarships. So they stay quiet. Besides, lots of them have been that abusive coach themself at some point in the past. They know it's ALL ABOUT WINNING!!!!!!!!!!

But know this, too. Greece will make headlines someday. Someone will get hurt or injured or maybe worse. And all of us silent parents will be to blame.

Anonymous said...

There are more than a handful (verbal) abusive teachers in Greece. One HS music teacher is out of control!

Anonymous said...

It is not just phys ed.
I know of a tech teacher @ odyssey that smashed a 7th grade students project against the wall in front of the whole class. All that was left was splinters. Nothing more than a suspension WITH pay. Sad very sad..

SCATS said...

To 7:47AM ~~ How pathetic YOUR comment is!! I'm beginning to think YOU are the PE teacher 9:52PM referenced on 4/6/13. The fact that I DID NOT bring up the requirement referenced earlier doesn't mean I was uninformed. IT MEANS IT IS IRRELEVANT (a big word, I know) TO THIS DISCUSSION!! No matter how much you try to make it apply, it just doesn't have any impact.

By actually reading what 4/7/13 posted, you might learn that it states, very clearly, that "SELECTED SCHOOLS" are involved and that only 50% of them are required to report in any given year. It also says: "To protect student privacy, no personal identifying information will be reported. Nowhere does it state that a gym teacher should call out their class for being overweight/fat. Why not?? Probably because it is disrespectful & abusive!

Stay on topic folks.

To 11:33AM (1st comment)~~ Sadly, you are correct, I fear ... Your comments are stated very well!

To 11:33AM (2nd comment) & 12:39PM ~~ Of course, there are abusive classroom teachers, too ... and bus drivers, monitors, librarians, etc. Sadly, in the case of teachers, until they commit and are convicted of a felony crime, we're stuck with them and have to pay them. And to think our BOE Prez. actually applauds those she bestows tenure upon every month!

Anonymous said...

You are truly laughable. YOU called it a "new requirement" in your posting of 2:57 pm. And now you want us to believe that you DID know about it but didn't reference it because....blah, blah, blah. You'd be a whole lot more balanced if you just admitted that you aren't omniscient (it means ALL KNOWING -look it up - a big word, I know).

SCATS said...

To 1:52PM ~~ Or shall I call you Einstein? "New" is a relative term. I used it in the context that I was supposedly uninformed about the change NYSED made until 4/07/2013 7:50 AM posted. I wasn't. In fact, in my comment posted on 4/07/2013 2:57 PM, I referred to it in quotes: "new requirements" just for that reason!!

Your whining still doesn't make it OK for a gym teacher to call a class fat ;)

PS ~~ This non-issue about reporting BMI's is DONE on THIS thread. It has NO relevance, NONE at all ;)

Anonymous said...

Scats- you really know how to knot up these teachers panties! Every time you try to put them under the microscope they want to turn it around and blame their students, the parents, administration, anybody but themselves. There's just no holding these public servants accountable. They're greasey slick. But I love watching them squirm, so thanks!

By the way, the teacher who smashed a project against the wall at Odyssey has anger issues.

Anonymous said...

12:39pm what was the reason for the teacher destroying the project? I'd love to hear how he justified his behavior?

Anonymous said...

Scats, why do you use ;) so often? You do know what it means, don't you?

Anonymous said...

My wife and I are at wits end trying to deal with our youngest daughter's teacher this year. She tends to be loud. She yells a lot. It's stressed the entire family to the point we're counting the days until school ends in June. If we had it to do over again, I think we'd put our kids in private schools or maybe try homeschooling. The system isn't designed to resolve any sort of problems with district employees. I'm not sure it deals with student issues effectively either. Sometimes I feel so badly for my daughter, but we try to explain to her that it's not her fault. We feel helpless to try to bring peace back into our lives. I just hope our little girl survives the next several weeks. Any suggestions would be really appreciated.

SCATS said...

To 6:39PM ~~ Thanks for noticing!

To 10:55PM ~~ I suspect you've already brought this issue up to the principal's attention, right? It's a tough situation to navigate without getting negative attention put onto your daughter by the teacher. You might try having your daughter surreptitiously record the screaming. If she gets caught, be prepared to go to bat for her.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate the caution with which you criticize, so I’ll respond mildly.

With respect to discipline I had in mind mostly the bus washing incident. I wasn’t thinking about any fundraising, just misbehavior. And it resonated because one of my son’s teams had a bus-cleaning incident that turned out slightly differently. Some students showed up blitzed for the annual “sportsmanship” talk (Saturday morning, they had to be bussed from our school to another school to hear a speech on sportsmanlike conduct, about zero tolerance for fighting or locker-room hazing etc) and they vomited all over the back of the bus. Who had to wash the bus so that it could be turned in? The coaches. Wrong answer, in my opinion. But that’s what weakness and lack of authority looks like.

As for BMI, hey, when I was a kid, who (from the school perspective) taught me everything I needed to know about VD and other health issues? My phys ed teacher, not the school nurse. Health is part of the phys ed curriculum, so having your PE teacher take height and weight measurements and compute a BMI for the student’s self-awareness seems just fine to me. When I was a kid, yeah back when Cro-Magnon was the new kid on the block, we charted individual height and weight during the course of a year in PE class on graphs with pre-printed “healthy zone” curves on them, but I don’t think that BMI as a concept existed yet.

You may think that my Neanderthal attitudes (I wear the adjective with pride, not irony) might “create a pathway that allows these coaches to be abusive”. The obvious counterproposition, of course, is that coaches (and teachers) without disciplinary authority create a pathway to the kind of kids that bullied Karen Klein. Abuse cuts both ways, and we have to meet in the middle, minimizing the total of course but understanding that you cannot drive one side of the abuse equation to zero without allowing the other side to explode.

Anonymous said...

PS I'm the guy who posted at 5:15 on 4/7, but not the other guy who posted later and to whom you made the same "red flag" comments.

SCATS said...

To 10:53AM ~~ The bus washing incident I was talking about had to do with washing the exteriors of the buses. One problem with that sort of punishment is that our schools use many cleaners that come with Material Handling Data Sheets requiring some skill to be mixed properly & often requiring eye protection, wearing of gloves, etc. Inhaling improperly mixed chemicals, or exposing them to your shin, eyes, etc. may only result in injury and/or law suits. Like you, I know these problems weren't such an issue years ago. In our lawsuit happy society, they are a problem.

Health classes today (I use that term extremely loosely especially as it related to GCSD where many students get next to no health class time in reality) are not anything like what you probably experienced in school. In this case, we're talking about elementary-aged students. I have not objected to the PE teacher taking the measurements. My objection is to the inappropriate remark made to a class of youngsters after he/she collected the info. It strikes me as unprofessional, disrespectful of the students and something better shared with the parents, than the 9 yr. olds.