Thursday, May 23, 2024

Emotional abuse among leading causes of girls’ dropout from sport 

Emotional abuse has been named as one of main causes leading to the dropout of the girl child from sport. This is according to research undertaken by Joanna Pozzulo and Emily Pica. The research points to verbal abuse as one of the most common abuses in sport. It is also said to be one form of abuse which is under- reported yet it occurs across all levels of sport. 

“Emotional abuse victims are most likely to be believed that they are fabricating the story as opposed to when the abuse is physical. This feeds to the notion that emotional abuse is part of the game,” the report says. 

The research has shown that 60- 75% of athletes experience some form of emotional abuse. This ranges from mild harassment to severe ill treatment from their coaches and even peers. 

It further states that emotional abuse can leave a lasting effect on the brain, such as increased risk of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. According to the research, emotional abuse such as verbal abuse directly affects the areas of the brain. With women and girls being emotional beings as compared to their male counterparts they often choose to leave sport entirely to avoid this. 

While no studies have been conducted on the issue, female athletes in Botswana may be scared of verbal abuse. This became apparent during a recent women sport conference hosted by the French Embassy in Botswana in collaboration with Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC). 

Speaking at the conference, female boxing sensation Lethabo Modukanele made it known that she is more comfortable speaking with her male coach as compared to females. According to Modukanele, males judge less and ‘they are not harsh with words’ as compared to females. 

Former athlete and now President of the Botswana Volleyball Association, Tsoseletso Magang says verbal abuse in sport is real and it is everywhere in the sporting world. As an athlete she has witnessed it happen.

The BVF president says what is sad is that this has turned into a vicious cycle as former athletes who are now coaches are doing the same things which were done to them. She also reiterates that verbal cases are hardly or never reported as many people see them as a form of toughening athletes.

In 2017, a gender analysis study was conducted by Women in Sport Botswana (WASBO) on the participation of girls and women in sports and leadership in relation to assist and retain both girls and women in sport. 

The study by WASBo further indicated that a total of 70.7% females and 29.4% males reported that ‘women’s attitude towards other women is negative.’ More females (76.3% than males 23.3%) reported that women perceptions of their effectiveness in sport role are not tied to position.  

According to Marketing and Publicity officer, Thulie Retshabile, says WASBO has not conducted research yet dedicated to girls’ participation in sport and retaining them. Even though they are aware of such abuses that take place in sport, they have by far put only policies in place to assist the girl child. 


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