Having been the President of Eastside Volleyball Club for the last 22 years, having served on a High School Board of Education during the Columbine shooting, and having been affiliated in many community youth organizations for the previous 40 years, I am asked many times for an opinion on the difference in kids from 40 years ago versus today. I answer that kids have not changed as much as adults have.
During my 8 years as a member of the Board of Education, disciplinary hearings in the early days were very productive with parents, compared to debating with parents on accountability with their child. In every facet of discipline a Code of Conduct was the primary remedy of grey area problems.
Mutual respect has always been a tentacle for fostering an agreeable atmosphere, especially when all parties concerned are in agreement that the primary interest is the protection of our youth. With the landscape of our digital world we are hearing more frequently about bullying and abuse by more adults than we would like to see.
Harassment takes many forms but can generally be defined as behavior including comments and/ or conduct which is insulting, intimidating, humiliating, hurtful, malicious, degrading or otherwise offensive to an individual, or group of individuals, and which creates an uncomfortable environment.
Harassment could include:
- Written / verbal abuse/threats. Sexually oriented comments. Vandalism.
- Racial or ethnic slurs unwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendoes, or taunting about a person’s body, attire, age, marital status, ethnic or racial origin, religion etc.
- Displaying of sexually explicit, racist or other offensive / derogatory material. Leering (suggestive staring), or other obscene gestures.
- Sexual, racial, ethnic or religious graffiti
- Practical jokes which cause awkwardness or embarrassment, endanger a person’s safety, or negatively affect performance.
- Unwelcome sexual remarks, invitations or requests whether indirect or explicit, or intimidation
- Condescension, paternalism or patronizing behavior which undermines self-respect or adversely affects performance or working conditions
- Physical conduct such as touching, kissing, patting, pinching, etc., or physical assault
In today’s landscape of social media and sometimes violent confrontations, most people are numb to all of the forms of that abuse.
Eastside Volleyball Club is taking matters into our own hands by instituting a Code of Ethics for all parties involved in the every day activities of the club.
- Coaches will be required to abide by a Code of Ethics to be assured they recognize and act on all forms of abuse, and do not put themselves in a compromising unethical position. Click here to view Eastside VBC’s Coaches Code of Ethics
- Parents will be required to acknowledge a Code of Ethics and will pledge to be good spectators and understand their role in their child’s experience. Click here to view Eastside VBC’s Parents Code of Ethics
- Players will be required to accept a Code of Ethics that they will need to adhere to. Click here to view Eastside VBC’s Players Code of Ethic
Here are 7 steps to implement a Code of Ethics in your club:
- Define stake holders in the organization. In our case it was coaches and directors. Coaches most times wear two hats. Directors are the ones that hear the complaints.
- Define problem areas, or anything remotely that could happen during any incident. Look at the barriers in society that anyone could breach. There are many areas in our code that are defined where we have never had a problem, but when talking with other youth organizations they have had these issues.
- Look at potential problem areas in Public Schools, since those are area’s that have more time spent with our youth.
- Use common sense. Do not write rules that you would have a hard time following.
- Use either paper copies, or a tag on a website to permanently keep the agreement.
- Enforcement – There are no grey areas. Nobody is above the code. Live by the code. Zero tolerance for violations.
- We have not encountered this yet since this is new, but the Appeal Process is to the Club Director right now. We may have to put an Appeal Board together if that does not work.
By implementing the Code of Ethics, Eastside Volleyball Club hopes this is one step closer to eliminating mis-behavior at all levels.
About the Author
Tim Vande Schraaf is the President and CEO of Eastside Volleyball Club in Peoria, Illinois. He has been involved in Junior Volleyball for 22 years, and is one of the founding members of the EastsideVolleyball Club. Inc. The club’s original charter number of 125 members has grown to over 750 members within the state of Illinois. The Eastside VBC, Inc. organization is unique, as it comprised of many volunteers. The goal and mission of the organization has always been to afford every athlete the opportunity to play competitive volleyball at an affordable price. Under his leadership, the Eastside VBC program teaches their athletes how to use the sport to accelerate their growth later in life when they enter the “real world.”