A Greenwich Patriots blog post this week said the Town of Greenwich Summer 2023 Baseball application for children aged 6-12 “caused a bit of a stir” because it includes a document titled, ‘Fact Sheet: What is Grooming?'”
Children this young still believe in Santa and the tooth fairy, the Patriots pointed out.
The Patriots talk a lot about protecting children. Their website says,”We formed from a common need to protect our children from ideological-driven curriculum, to protect our medical freedom, and to preserve parental rights.”
The posts on their website talk about protecting children from PTAs, curriculum in public school, and library books.
According to Greenwich Parks & Rec, the fact sheet about grooming is included in camp materials because of a relatively new state law intended to protect children.
The Safe Sport Law in Connecticut, Public Act No. 21-64, “An Act Concerning the Provision of Information Concerning Child Sexual Abuse,” mandates that the Governor’s Task Force on Justice for Abused Children do three things:
• Develop instructional guidelines for youth coaches on best practices for appropriate interaction with youth athletes.
• Develop child sexual abuse informational guidelines that describe (a) abusers’ grooming techniques, (b) victim behavior, and (c) methods for contacting the appropriate authorities, and (d) methods for victims to tell a parent or other adult if abuse has occurred.
• Make both sets of guidelines available on the department’s website.
On an annual basis, each operator of a youth sport must distribute a copy, including electronically, of these child sexual abuse guidelines to each participant’s parent or guardian upon enrollment or registration and distribute a copy of the best-practices instructional guidelines to their instructors and youth coaches, whether volunteer and paid.
All three documents are on the state website: Connecticut Safe Sport Policy: Child Abuse Prevention (scroll to the bottom of the page).
The Patriots post also said, “The timing of the fact sheet seemed odd especially in light of the ‘groomers’ sign incident at Town Hall.”
Parents are signing their children up for camp now. It is June. It is also Pride month and the Pride flag is hanging outside town hall.
The incident involved 27 “Groomers” signs with arrows pointing to the Pride flag, which was on display because June is pride month. What caused a stir was the insinuation that LGBTQ people are groomers.
But back to that Grooming Fact Sheet. The document explains that “Grooming is a tactic where someone methodically builds a trusting relationship with a child or young adult, their family, and community to manipulate, coerce, or force the child or young adult to engage in sexual activities.”
It goes on to list signs that a person may be experiencing grooming or abuse.
In the world of sports, when the abuse of Larry Nassar and Jerry Sandusky came to light, people were confounded why victims hadn’t spoken up or weren’t believed, and why others turned their heads or simply didn’t notice.
Children have the right to be free from sexual abuse. A good first start is to inform adults what grooming is and how to spot and prevent it, including people who aren’t parents because adults can be vulnerable to grooming just as children are. Grooming can take place in any type of relationship, often where there is a power imbalance. It also occurs in the context of human trafficking or teen and adult abusive intimate partner relationships.