Mark Folgers Blog Keeping kids safe

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Feb 26, 2007
I saw this link on Rick's and felt that it would be a great article for the CB and also a great discussion topic for both coaches and parents.

So here are Mark Folger's ten tips for keeping kids safe in the gym. These rules also protect our coaches.


1. A coach should never be alone with a child, not before practice, not after practice, not during travel.

2. Coaches and athletes should never share hotel rooms when traveling.

3. Coaches should not provide special treatment to one or two athletes compared to the rest of the team. This could be trips to movies or ballgames, gifts, etc.

4. Team sleepovers should be supervised by multiple adults. Use common sense when considering the sex and number of adults supervising this type of activity. Make sure parents are involved.

5. Trust your child’s coach, but not blindly. Trust is something earned, not given. It must be continually earned or it should be taken away.

6. Parents should monitor their child’s relationship with his/her coaches, not in a conspiracy theory, witch-hunt way, but to simply confirm they’ve chosen good people to guide that part of their child’s life.

7. Everyone should report abuse when witnessed. Not hearsay or rumors, but if you witness abuse, REPORT IT!

8. Adults should intervene on behalf of the child when witnessing child abuse (if you can do so safely).

9. Children should understand what constitutes inappropriate touching and know to report it when they see it or experience it.

10. If you are one who is part of that percent of one percent who coach or get involved with youth activities for immoral reasons, please get help.
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Proud Parent
Proud Parent
Jul 22, 2010
As someone who grew up in a small town where THESE THINGS DON'T HAPPEN that is currently being torn apart on a national/international scale because THESE THINGS DID HAPPEN, I couldn't agree more. The names on the news are familiar to me, not because they're sports celebrities, but because I went to school with their kids. As much as we think, as parents, that we would recognize the type of person who would hurt our child, the truth is that it is more likely to be someone we (and they) know, trust, and love.
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ChalkBucket Founder
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Proud Parent
Sep 3, 2005
11. If you own a should not be so cheap that you can only have one employee at the gym at any given time.

*This is not a rant about my current gym...but possibly about yours.
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Proud Parent
May 26, 2011
Ontario, Canada
This sort of fits here I think, it's a question about spotting and "appropriate touching". When a coach is spotting are there, or are there not times when they will need to hold the buttocks and/or the chest area?

This is not based on a real scenario, just something I was thinking about when going over things with the kids, about appropriate and inappropriate touching. I wasn't sure what to say to dd as a gymnast if there are times when that could be appropriate or not.


Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
This sort of fits here I think, it's a question about spotting and "appropriate touching". When a coach is spotting are there, or are there not times when they will need to hold the buttocks and/or the chest area?

I used to be worried about this (more about trying to explain to my dd good from bad touches and how to incorporate that into spotting). But after years of watching the coaches, I have learned that they really know how to handle the girls without even potential signs of inappropriateness. Most spotting is done on the thigh, upper arm, shoulders, back and rib cage. I have seen coaches touch the butt (like for handstands) but the hand is always straight open (like a board), never cupped and it is usually very quick. I have seen coaches use their forearms against the chest but never their hands. dd is only L6-7 equiv. so we just may not have hit that yet, but I watch the other girls too and have never seen it - of course, I'm not really looking for it either. I'm mostly watching the skills, not the spotting. I'm sure touching happens at times, like when a gymnast is falling unexpectedly and the natural reaction is to catch, not worry about where your hands are but I'm sure that's not what we are talking about here.

Still, I have always told dd that if she ever feels "weird" about a certain spot, then she should always tell the coach that it doesn't feel right and she should always tell me - no matter what the coach says. I also remind her of this periodically - when new coaches come in and as she is getting older and hitting puberty as what seemed fine 2 yrs ago may not feel ok next year.
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