Respect Group receives a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of +81

Respect Group receives a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of +81

Respect Group is proud to be recognized as a leader in client satisfaction in an independent Canadian customer experience survey, receiving a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of +81.

Net Promoter Scores are calculated by measuring client satisfaction based on the likelihood of a client recommending a business to a friend or family member. We surveyed 1598 client contacts, and while external surveys average a response rate of 10-15%, we received responses from 18.4% of clients surveyed. Scores above 50 are considered excellent, and above 70 are deemed exceptional

Client satisfaction and customer service is an essential part of our work at Respect Group, and we aim to ensure that all our clients and users of our programs benefit from the Respect Experience. Whether you are an organization of 8 or 800, all of our clients are supported in their goal of creating positive, lasting culture change through our programs’ engaging content, market-leading instructional design, and live Helpdesk support. Join over 1.5 million Canadians who are Respect Certified in sport, schools, and the workplace today!

Our Tips For Working From Home

Our Tips For Working From Home

Working from home: 6 tips for employees

1.Take control of the flexibility

Embrace the opportunities of an unstructured day but make sure to stick to a schedule that will keep you accountable and successful. 

2. Schedule your breaks and make them count 

If you are taking a break make sure it gives you the refresh that you need. Get outside, connect with someone or find whatever it is that gets you re-energized! 

3. Create a dedicated workspace

Make a clear transition from home life to work time to help reduce distractions and create boundaries. 

4. Turn your computer on & off at the same time every day

It’s very easy to work outside of a normal 8 hour day when working from home. Make sure to sign in and out at the same time each day to help build work/life balance. If you are logged into your work email on your phone, set a ‘do not disturb’ cycle to limit notifications outside of work hours.

5. Avoid the 24-hour news cycle

Constant news updates can be overwhelming and stressful, and make it hard to focus on the work in front of you. If you like working with background noise, replace the news channels with music or podcasts instead.

6. Create a bright workspace

If you are able to, try and work near a window or another natural light source. Other options include investing in new office lighting, a light therapy lamp, or adding candles or plants to your space. This is especially important as we move into the winter months and can help you stay focused on and engaged in your work.

*Don’t forget to be easy on yourself, this transition takes time!


Working from home: 6 tips for employers

1. TRUST each other 

As an employer, it helps if you have trust and that works both ways.

2. Share positive occurrences

Establish an internal communication network where positive occurrences can be shared across the team.

3. Encourage interaction and collaboration

Find what works best for your team to make communication easy and consistent. There are endless options out there (Skype, HangOuts, Go To Meetings, email, phone calls, etc…) and using more than one can be helpful.

4. Schedule in morning ‘commute time’

Avoid planning any meetings for the first hour of a workday to give employees the chance to get settled in and take care of any pressing tasks.

5. Check in with employees individually to see how they are doing

Have supervisors and managers check in with employees individually to see how they are coping with the impacts of the pandemic and adjusting to their new normal. This can also be an opportunity to explore what employees may need to continue to work efficiently and effectively.

6. Encourage employees to use a VPN

A virtual private network, or a VPN, is a safety measure that extends a private network across a public network to help improve the safety and security of data being shared. If your organization does not have a VPN set up, there are several free or paid options online to explore. 

Working from home during the winter months can mean a lot of time inside. This Mini-Guide to Help Employees’ Mental Health Throughout the Winter from the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Workplace Mental Health Program can help employers provide their employees with tools and resources specific to the winter months.

To know better is to do better

To know better is to do better

By: Sheldon Kennedy

After reading “A Stain on our Game” by Jeff Hamilton, I felt that I needed and wanted to share my views on the six-part article. I feel strongly that this story has critical teachings in it from which we all can learn.

What really hit close to home for me, again, was Jay Macaulay. I saw myself and so many others who have suffered significant trauma in their lives in Jay. I was there, and I was there for a long time, and it’s brutal. The important part, which I know now, is that there is a way out, and the opportunity to get your power and your life back.

Jay, you are not alone with your feelings; with hard work and continued commitment, recovery is possible for all of us.

Piecing this story together was so important, as it allows us to really understand the magnitude of how one pedophile can destroy the lives of so many victims. It also reveals how many knew and said nothing, and how there were countless missed opportunities to have stopped it. (And for clarification, throughout the series interviewees refer to Graham James as being “gay.” That is not accurate; he is a sexual predator, and the two terms should not be confused.)

The impact on our youth is undeniable. The research tells us that, and unfortunately, I have come to know this all too well:

  • kids who are abused are 26 times more likely to experience youth homelessness
  • kids who are abused have a 30 per cent higher high school drop-out rate
  • 70 to 80 per cent of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use
  • children who have been abused are 59 per cent more likely to be arrested as a juvenile
  • people who have suffered abuse are 15 times more likely to attempt suicide
  • 70 per cent of all mental health issues are linked to early childhood trauma


I didn’t come away with the feeling that these articles were written to finger-point or blame; to me, this series presents yet another opportunity to reflect, learn and improve. It’s also crystal clear that this is not just a hockey issue but a community issue, and we all have a personal responsibility to be better.

Graham James took advantage of our collective ignorance and indifference, plain and simple. That’s why education is the best defence to empower the bystander. I remember the common responses when my story broke: “This is an isolated case… and it’s a hockey issue.” Neither is true.

All this said, upon reflection, I do know that sport organizations have taken some bold steps forward over the last 20-plus years. It should be acknowledged that Hockey Canada was the first organization in this country, and perhaps the world, to introduce mandatory training for all coaches specific to the prevention of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination.

Sport Manitoba was the first provincial sport organization to mandate education for all coaches in the province in all sports. Through my involvement with these initiatives, I realize just how bold those decisions were in the face of denial.

It also very apparent to me that because of hockey’s position and stature in our country, we need it to set an even greater example for others to follow. That is a very influential leadership position to be in.

At this point, I’d like to thank all the investigators who took on these cases and believed in us and fought for the truth. In my case, Det. Brian Bell — you saved my life.

I also want to acknowledge all the survivors in this story and beyond — your courage and honesty further inspires me. And to my family and friends: I know that the impact on you has been significant.

I want to thank Darren McLean and Rick Girard, two young players who, showing courage and maturity beyond their years, fought to remove Graham James as a coach to protect current and future players. Thanks also to Dr. Gretchen Kerr and Dr. Sandra Kirby for their continued research that validates that these issues are real and widespread.

Thank you for every voice in this story. It was very important, and I heard every one, whether I wanted to or not. It further drove home the need to put our focus on the 98 per cent of people who  are good, and give them tools and confidence to be better.

Stories like these take courage and great diligence. I am grateful for the commitment shown by Jeff Hamilton, the Winnipeg Free Press and all those involved. Reading this has helped me greatly, and I thank you for that.

There are, however, still two questions I would like answered: is Ed Chynoweth a suitable member of the Hockey Hall of Fame? And is it appropriate to have his name attached to the WHL Championship?

To know better is to do better.

Our co-founder, Sheldon Kennedy, has spent the last 24 years advocating for child protection and has influenced social change in a profound way. He has received extensive recognition for this work, including the Alberta Order of Excellence, the Order of Sport Award, the Order of Manitoba and the Order of Canada.

‘A Stain on Our Game’ Summary

‘A Stain on Our Game’ Summary

The Winnipeg Free Press recently published a series of articles by Jeff Hamilton entitled ‘A Stain on Our Game’, an investigation into convicted serial sex offender and former hockey coach Graham James. This series explores the lasting impact of his years of abuse on the Canadian hockey community and more importantly, on those who were victimized by him. Hamilton’s research shed a light on the factors that allowed the widespread abuse to occur, the lifelong impacts on the survivors of James’ abuse, and what sport organizations across Canada have done and must continue to do to prevent maltreatment and abuse from occurring in sport moving forward.

Lessons Learned:

Understanding and Defining Abuse & Maltreatment

The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport’s Universal Code of Conduct (2019) defines maltreatment as, “Volitional acts that result in harm or the potential for physical or psychological harm”. When maltreatment occurs repeatedly over time, a pattern of abuse is formed. Abuse can be psychological, physical, or sexual, but psychological abuse is the most widespread and at the root of any and all other types of abuse (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Any type of maltreatment or abuse is rooted in an imbalance of power.

As Hamilton clearly detailed, Graham James groomed young players, who often came from vulnerable or challenging family circumstances, and wielded power over them by isolating them from their peers, using the hypermasculine culture of hockey to disempower them to speak out, and using his influence to control the future of their hockey careers. Further, a win-at-all-costs mentality and the success of James’ teams meant that those who wanted to speak out feared they would not be believed or that they would face backlash. When Darren McLean, Rick Girard, and other veteran players spoke to team management about the abuse their teammates were experiencing, McLean was instead the one punished and asked to leave the team, while James was allowed to continue coaching and abusing his players (Hamilton, 2020).

Emotional Maltreatment is Equally Harmful and More Prevalent Than Other Forms

While many survivors detailed the grooming and sexual abuse they experienced, weaved throughout their and others’ accounts was a clear pattern of emotional maltreatment and abuse. Emotional maltreatment and psychological abuse is the most common type of maltreatment experienced by young athletes, and can have equally devastating impacts as other forms of abuse (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Psychological abuse, in comparison to physical or sexual abuse, is most strongly associated with athletes experiencing post-traumatic and dissociative symptoms (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Further, psychologically abusive coaching practices can both hide and lead to grooming behaviours and sexual abuse (Mountjoy et al., 2016).

Hazing is a Longstanding Problem in Hockey with Serious, Lasting Impacts

Hazing in hockey is a longstanding problem and is currently an issue before the courts, with several former Canadian Hockey League players leading a class-action lawsuit against the CHL and its three member organizations, the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL (Hamilton, 2020). At the core of this lawsuit is the claim that the organizations have perpetuated a ‘toxic environment’ in which widespread abuse and maltreatment, from both adults and peers, is widespread and accepted (Hamilton, 2020).

Hazing is defined as any harmful interaction that involves some component of psychological, sexual, and/or physical abuse (Jeckell et al., 2018). The willingness of the victim to participate has no bearing on whether an activity can be considered hazing or not; if there is any component of harm for the victim, the activity can be considered hazing (Jeckell et al., 2018). Hazing activities have the potential to lead to extremely dangerous physical and psychological outcomes, including death (Jeckell et al., 2018). Though hazing is often viewed as ‘harmless’ and ‘team-building’, it instead has the opposite effect, reinforcing existing power structures and hierarchy amongst team members, creating more division and a lack of unity (Jeckell et al., 2018).

The Effects of Trauma are Widespread and Long-Term

Many survivors of abuse can and do go on to experience positive mental health and well-being, return to sport, and resume their regular lives and activities (Mountjoy et al., 2016). However, as Hamilton (2020) clearly showed through his interviews, the short- and long-term impacts of abuse in sport can be extremely damaging to athletes, extending beyond sport and the athletes themselves to affect their families, friends, and other areas of their lives, long after the athlete has left the sport (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Athletes suffer many opportunity costs within sport, including the loss of sponsorship, poor performance, reduced chances to win at high levels, willingness to engage in doping or cheating, or leaving sport altogether (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Outside of sport, the impacts include (but are not limited to) psychosomatic illnesses, disordered eating, low self-esteem, poor body image, anxiety, depression, substance misuse, self-harm, and suicide (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Further, the risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts or attempts, or completed suicide is increased with each type of abuse that a young person experiences (Mountjoy et al., 2016).

Parents Are Essential Stakeholders in Keeping Young Athletes Safe & Sport Organizations Accountable

Parents are their children’s first and most important advocates and are powerful stakeholders in sport culture. Parents are in an important position as bystanders to call attention to inappropriate behaviour and to step in when maltreatment occurs. Parents, as much as other adults involved in sport organizations, should also receive the education and tools to recognize and address bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination, or BAHD behaviours. Further, parents are an important stakeholder within sport organizations to call for culture change, moving away from a focus on developing the few elite-level athletes and towards developing all young athletes as both better players and humans (Hamilton, 2020).

Education is Crucial for Empowering Bystanders to Address Incidents of Maltreatment

Organizational and cultural change starts with leadership. The first step in the process of systemic culture change is to be aware of and understand that maltreatment and abuse occurs everywhere, including in sporting organizations, and that the consequences are serious and long-lasting (Mountjoy et al., 2016). A key building block in this process is education at all levels of sport organizations (Mountjoy et al., 2016). According to Mountjoy et al. (2016), “Prevention begins with awareness-raising about non-accidental violence through the dissemination of evidence-based education and training programs.”

Bystanders are in a crucial position to disrupt patterns of maltreatment and abuse in sport environments. Further, if they do not intervene, they become part of the problem; when bystanders who witness or are aware of the abusive behaviour do nothing, either through acceptance of the behaviour, non-intervention, denial or silence, athletes believe that the behaviour is acceptable and that they would be powerless if they chose to speak out (Mountjoy et al., 2016). Bystanders can be anyone involved in a sport organization, including athletes. In fact, educating youth involved in sports from a young age on the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviours can help them to recognize when maltreatment is occurring and empower them to stand up for themselves and their peers.



More information about supporting individuals who are experiencing or have experienced abuse can be found below:

Sport-Specific Resources:


Mental Health & Maltreatment Resources:

  • A full list of resources available in each province and territory for survivors of abuse can be found on the Ending Violence Association of Canada’s website
  • Free mental health support is currently available across Canada through the Wellness Together Canada website
  • For immediate crisis support, adults can text WELLNESS to 741741 and youth can text WELLNESS to 686868
  • The Canadian Centre for Victims of Crime has a helpful list of resources for individuals who have experienced maltreatment and are in need of support


Prevention Resources

The first step towards prevention is education. Learn more about our online programs here:

The Respect in Sport Parent Program provides parents with the tools to create and maintain Safe Sport environments.

The Respect in Sport Activity Leader educates youth leaders, coaches, officials and participants (14-years and up) to recognize, understand and respond to issues of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination (BAHD).

  • Educating our youth: Stay in the Game program

The Stay in the Game program is designed to educate youth 10 -14 years old on three key themes; finding your voice, staying safe and having fun.

Tools, tips and research summaries to discover:



Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. (2019). Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address
Maltreatment in Sport. Retrieved from

Hamilton, J. (2020, December). A stain on our game: The life and destructive legacy of Graham James. Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved from

Jeckell, A. S., Copenhaver, E. A., & Diamond, A. B. (2018). The spectrum of hazing and peer sexual abuse in sports: A current perspective. Sports health, 10(6), 558-564.

Mountjoy, M., Brackenridge, C., Arrington, M., Blauwet, C., Carska-Sheppard, A., Fasting, K., … & Starr, K. (2016). International Olympic Committee consensus statement: harassment and abuse (non-accidental violence) in sport. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(17), 1019-1029.


An Overview of ‘The Spectrum of Hazing & Peer Sexual Abuse in Sports: A Current Perspective’

An Overview of ‘The Spectrum of Hazing & Peer Sexual Abuse in Sports: A Current Perspective’

Introduction & Definition

A common rite of passage among many team sports is the initiation of new team members through, at best, bonding activities, and at worst, through a variety of activities that are considered hazing. Hazing can be defined as, “Any act against someone joining or maintaining membership to any organization that is humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning and endangers the health and/or safety of those involved” (Jeckell, Copenhaver, & Diamond, 2018). In other words, hazing is any harmful interaction that involves some component of psychological, sexual, and/or physical abuse (Jeckell et al., 2018). The willingness of the victim to participate has no bearing on whether an activity can be considered hazing or not; if there is any component of harm for the victim, the activity can be considered hazing (Jeckell et al., 2018). Hazing activities have the potential to lead to extremely dangerous physical and psychological outcomes, including death (Jeckell et al., 2018).

It is important to differentiate bullying from hazing; bullying has a goal of alienation, while hazing has a goal of initiation (Jeckell et al., 2018). Further, hazing has historically been considered a ‘team-building’ activity, so it is important to define hazing separately from team building. As defined by the National College Athletics Association (NCAA), team building activities are shared positive events that promote the values of respect, dignity, equality, and teamwork amongst teammates (Jeckell et al., 2018). The aim of team building activities is to build cohesion amongst new and existing team members, and power is evenly distributed amongst all involved (Jeckell et al., 2018). Hazing activities are characterized by negative events and an imbalance of power; existing team members hold power over new team members, who must prove themselves worthy of their place on the team and, in turn, earn the respect and dignity of their teammates (Jeckell et al., 2018). To access the graphic, click here.

Hazing is an Issue of Power

Hazing serves to reinforce a power structure where existing members of the team are able to grant or reject team membership to new members based on their ability to endure humiliating, degrading, or otherwise harmful activities (Jeckell et al., 2018). This is typically achieved through some sort of transformative hazing activity defined by a ‘destruction/creation’ cycle, where the athlete’s former identity is ‘destroyed’ and re-created to fit a new mold that is defined and accepted by the team (Jeckell et al., 2018). These destructive activities are ultimately a test of new team members to demonstrate how far they will go to be accepted as members of the team (Jeckell et al., 2018). Hazing activities all involve some level of dominance on the part of the hazer, forcing victims to experience pain, humiliation, and/or danger while demonstrating obedience and willingness to comply (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Many athletes report that they do not truly feel like members of the team until some sort of initiation activity has occurred (Jeckell et al., 2018). As such, many athletes participate in hazing in order to prove their dedication to the team, with an aim to achieve acceptance and respect (Jeckell et al., 2018). However, rather than building team cohesion, this reinforces the existing power structure and hierarchy amongst team members, creating more division and a lack of unity (Jeckell et al., 2018). Hazing always enforces an imbalanced power structure, with hazers at the top and hazees on the bottom (Jeckell et al., 2018). This ultimately keeps members divided by their various statuses (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Hazing & Sexual Misconduct by the Numbers

Jeckell et al. (2018) report that in the United States, the following groups experienced hazing:

  • 47% of high schools student-athletes
  • 25% report experiencing their first incident of hazing before age 13
  • 34% of students performing in the arts or band
  • 20% of students in other student groups
  • 55% of college students who participated in clubs, teams, or other organizations (ex. fraternities or sororities)
  • 80% of NCAA athletes
  • 42% experienced hazing in high school

While estimates vary, between 2-48% of athletes experience some kind of sexual maltreatment/misconduct in sport (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Sensitive/Vulnerable Periods for Athletes

Aside from hazing and peer sexual abuse, athletes who participate in individual sports are particularly vulnerable to experience abuse during the period of ‘imminent achievement’, when they are on the cup of elite status (Jeckell et al., 2018). This period of time is typically characterized by both heightened levels of stress and dependence on coaching/training staff, which can leave athletes vulnerable to abuse (Jeckell et al., 2018). With their focus on achieving elite status, pre-elite athletes may be more likely to tolerate abusive behaviours in order to achieve elite status (note: this is not to say they accept or condone the behaviour) (Jeckell et al., 2018). Other athletes who are highly vulnerable to sexual abuse are those who specialize at a younger age, especially around puberty (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Risk Factors for Hazing

Individuals who are at risk of experiencing hazing include elite athletes, children, LGBTQ+ athletes, athletes with disabilities, and athletes with a lower grade point average (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Teams who are at a higher risk of experiencing/initiating hazing typically have athletes who deny or fail to recognize the authority of the coaching staff, have unsupervised team areas or locker rooms, and have a balance of power shifted towards masculine authority (Jeckell et al., 2018). However, there is no known risk for hazing associated with any one sport or sport-specific factors, including the levels of physical contact involved or uniform coverage (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Hazing is most harmful when the intent is to marginalize individuals; for example, when hazing occurs at an inter-team level, where elite athletes (ex. Junior hockey players) haze pre-elite athletes (ex. Midget hockey players) (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Sexualized Hazing

Hazing can be considered sexualized when the harmful incident includes a verbal, non-verbal and/or physically sexualized component (Jeckell et al., 2018). Sexual abuse goes beyond hazing and involves a sexualized act that exploits or entraps the victim, occurring without their consent (Jeckell et al., 2018). When sexual abuse is perpetrated by multiple people at once (i.e. gang rape/sexual assault), abusers aim to manifest status, hostility, control, and dominance (Jeckell et al., 2018). This, in part, is why sexualized hazing and peer sexual abuse occurs in cycles, where victims then become the abusers (Jeckell et al., 2018). The victim or other participants (passive or active) may view enacting the same abuses they endured onto others as the only way to demonstrate or re-establish their own status (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Peer Sexual Abuse & Hyper/Toxic Masculinity

Peer sexual abuse, along with other forms of abuse, often stems from a need to demonstrate power and rank, in part stemming from the stereotypical expectations of athletes in Western culture to demonstrate masculinity (Jeckell et al., 2018). This is shown through many depictions of athletes in the media and popular culture, where the most masculine athletes (of any gender) are viewed as the most powerful (Jeckell et al, 2018). When peer sexual abuse and sexualized hazing occurs, the intent is to demasculinize the victim and hyper-masculinize the perpetrator (Jeckell et al., 2018).

It is important to note that hazing can occur across all genders, and sexualized hazing can also occur amongst teams of female athletes. The toxic, hypermasculine ideologies involving a need for power and dominance that exist in society are often amplified in sport and can be held by athletes of any gender, in part due to the expectations and stereotypes of athletes as strong and powerful.

Impact of Hazing & Peer Sexual Abuse

Psychological Impacts

While a study of collegiate hazing found that students who participated experienced positive benefits, including feeling like part of the team, accomplished, and stronger, the evidence overwhelmingly points to the negative short- and long-term psychological effects of hazing (Jeckell et al., 2018). Multiple studies have found that victims of hazing are more likely to develop mental illnesses and symptoms, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders (Jeckell et al., 2018).

 Physical Impacts

Hazing has resulted in numerous injuries, deaths and suicides (Jeckell et al., 2018). Sexualized hazing and peer sexual abuse also put victims at a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted illnesses, suffering from lifelong injuries that can result in health complications, and even death (Jeckell et al., 2018)

Impacts on the Team

Research from college athletes shows that experiencing hazing led to lower levels of task cohesiveness, attraction and integration; simplified, experiencing hazing leads to lower levels of teamwork and ability to focus and build on tasks (Jeckell et al., 2018). Further, hazing was unrelated to social attraction and team cohesiveness, aside from cohesiveness around the ‘code of silence’ that plagues hazing and other abuses in sport (Jeckell et al., 2018). To access the table, click here.

What Prevents Disclosure?

Research has found that many athletes who have experienced activities that constitute hazing are unlikely or unwilling to identify these events as hazing (Jeckell et al., 2018). A survey of NCAA athletes found that while 80% of athletes reported experiencing events that are considered hazing, only 12% report being hazed (Jeckell et al., 2018). Further, between 60-90% of athletes who experienced hazing explicitly stated that they would not consider reporting the event (Jeckell et al., 2018). This also shows that hazing may be normalized as a regular part of sport culture, where these harmful activities are viewed as good for the team (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Common reasons for not reporting hazing included loyalty to teammates, being unsure of who to trust (ex. coaching staff or other authority figures) with disclosure, hazing behaviour being viewed as normal, or the perception that they willingly chose to participate in being hazed (Jeckell et al., 2018). Further, many college athletes hold positive views of hazing, are unable to recognize that it has taken place, or fear retaliation from teammates for speaking out (Jeckell et al., 2018). All of these reasons exist within and stem from a sporting culture that has created a ‘code of silence’ around abuse and harassment (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Institutions Protect Abusers & Their Own Reputations/Chances for Sporting Success

There is a trend in sports-related hazing for institutions to protect the abuser(s), often going to great lengths to cover up incidents and reports of hazing and abuse (Jeckell et al., 2018). There are many factors that contribute to this. Abusers are often senior, elite athletes who have demonstrated their ability to bring the institution success through sport, bringing the school positive attention in the general public and the media (Jeckell et al., 2018). The institution often protects the perpetrator to avoid negative media/public attention, or to ensure the immediate success or long-term future of the team (Jeckell et al., 2018). Further, for a coach, administrator, or another member of the institution to accept that hazing or abuse has occurred amongst athletes for whom they are responsible, they themselves must accept some level of responsibility (Jeckell et al., 2018). In order to protect their reputations and avoid accepting liability publicly, many institutions will deny that hazing or abuse has occurred and encourage victims to move forward without any sort of resolution or deal with the issue behind closed doors (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Victims are Blamed, Within & Outside of Sport

Widespread societal myths around sexual assault and abuse are also applied to sexualized hazing and peer sexual abuse in sport (Jeckell et al., 2018). Many mistakenly believe that ‘real rape’ only occurs outside at night, when a stranger overpowers a victim with physical force (Jeckell et al., 2018). When sexual assault or rape does occur in the context of sport (for example, in private homes, team areas, or the locker room) many view this as consensual, innocent, or occurring without harmful intent (Jeckell et al., 2018). This myth is not only inaccurate but incredibly dangerous when it comes to victims being believed when they disclose and can disrupt their efforts to seek support and justice (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Victims are also blamed depending on the level of closeness they have with their abuser, another harmful myth that creates an expectation for victims to act or behave in a certain way towards those who have harmed them (Jeckell et al., 2018). Research has shown that the closer the victim and the abuser are, the less likely other individuals, including authority figures, are to blame the abuser (Jeckell et al., 2018). It can also lead these individuals to believe the abuse/hazing was less harmful to the victim (Jeckell et al., 2018). This is especially dangerous in team sports, where athletes spend a lot of time together and develop close relationships (Jeckell et al., 2018).

The normalization of hazing in sport culture may also lead to authority figures viewing victims who report instances of hazing to be going against the team and ‘making trouble’ (Jeckell et al., 2018). Further, authority figures who view hazing as normal or even beneficial for the team may also believe the victim willingly participated in the hazing and should be punished along with the perpetrators, ignoring the imbalance of power wielded by hazers and a lack of true consent to participate from hazees (Jeckell et al., 2018).

What to Do When Hazing Occurs

The Initial Conversation/Disclosure

If an athlete discloses that they have experienced hazing or peer sexual abuse, open dialogue should be encouraged; this means using active, empathetic listening and avoiding suggestive, directing, or leading questions (Jeckell et al., 2018). The conversation should ideally occur in a confidential environment where the athlete feels safe and free to openly discuss what they have experienced (Jeckell et al., 2018). The person receiving the disclosure should not express negative feelings towards the abuser/hazer; instead, a neutral tone should be maintained and the focus should be on the victim/hazee (Jeckell et al., 2018). Most importantly, letting the victim know that you believe them, emphasizing that what they experienced is not their fault and not acceptable, and commending their courage to come forward can have a long-lasting positive impact (Jeckell et al., 2018). Each situation should be treated individually and emotional and psychological support, as well as medical services, should be offered to the victim depending on their needs (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Mandatory Reporting

Any individual with an athlete in their care or who is involved with the team in any way who is aware that abuse has occurred is obligated to report this to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible (Jeckell et al., 2018). Delayed reporting and attempts to solely handle the disclosure internally can not only amount to negligence and a breach of mandatory reporting, but may also empower the perpetrators and increase the distress and harm for the victim (Jeckell et al., 2018).

Prevention Through Education & Policy

The first step to preventing hazing is a clear, zero-tolerance policy adhered to by the governing sport organization, all team staff, coaches, and the athletes themselves (Jeckell et al., 2018). This policy should clearly define the difference between team building and hazing activities, and team staff should be trained to recognize the physical and emotional warning signs that may be associated with hazing (Jeckell et al., 2018). A clear, reliable reporting system should be recognized and understood by all athletes, team staff and the organization (Jeckell et al., 2018). Consistent and proportionate disciplinary action should be taken against hazers, both to encourage future disclosures and to help prevent repeat offenders (Jeckell et al., 2018).


Jeckell, A. S., Copenhaver, E. A., & Diamond, A. B. (2018). The spectrum of hazing and peer sexual abuse in sports: A current perspective. Sports health, 10(6), 558-564.



Online Safety Resources for Youth, Parents and Teachers

Online Safety Resources for Youth, Parents and Teachers

In the past year, many Canadians have had their work, school, and social lives become increasingly virtual, spending more time online than ever before. While these transitions have been necessary and beneficial in our current circumstances, they have also increased the risks for young people online. This includes more time spent unsupervised online, younger children spending more time online, and social isolation and disconnection for vulnerable children and youth who do not have online access. This increased time spent in virtual spaces has heightened the risks of exposure to harmful content and predatory behaviour.

There has been a recognition of the importance of ensuring that children and youth stay safe online, and a need for child safety-centred principles, policies, strategies, protocols & practices to address these issues of online safety and access comprehensively and effectively.

Respect Group is excited to announce our participation as a member of the National Online Safety Coalition, in partnership with the Boys and Girls’ Clubs of Canada and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, with funding through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

One of the goals of this collaboration is to share evidence-based and accessible learning resources with youth, teachers, parents, and other stakeholders across Canada to help youth stay safe and resilient online. We have gathered several resources that are available within our Respect programs to help youth, parents, and teachers talk about the potential harms and impacts of online behaviour and how to step up and step in when we see or learn about harmful or predatory virtual behaviours. Explore the resources below to learn more about how to support children and youth in staying safe and resilient online!

  • This module, from our Stay in The Game program, uses youth-friendly characters, animation, and learning strategies to discuss staying safe (both in-person and online). An important focus of this module is on explaining sexual abuse and harassment in developmentally-appropriate ways, discussing the importance of not sending sexually-explicit photos and more.


  • This powerful clip discusses the life of Glen Canning’s daughter, Rehtaeh Parsons, and the importance of caution when posting online. The key takeaway is that the internet has no delete button.


  • This blog post links to Telus’ ‘Dark Cloud’ documentary, focusing on the life and work of Carol Todd and the Amanda Todd Legacy Society. The blog post contains information on the prevalence of cyberbullying, the harms associated with it, and several resources to accompany the film.


  • This handout from the Respect in School program provides a definition and examples of cyberbullying, facts about cyberbullying, and discusses the impacts cyberbullying can have on young people. Additional resources are included at the end of the handout.


  • This handout from the Respect in Sport Parent program helps parents to understand cyberbullying and to learn about how to prevent or reduce the impacts of cyberbullying on their children. This resource also discusses what to do when your children are bullying others online.


  • This handout from the Respect in Sport Parent program discusses the warning signs that your child may be unsafe online, 10 Online Safety Tips for parents and caregivers, and the steps for reporting suspected online sexual exploitation.


Harrassment in Virtual Workplaces: How to Maintain Respectful Conduct While Working From Home

Harrassment in Virtual Workplaces: How to Maintain Respectful Conduct While Working From Home

No workplace has been immune from making necessary changes and adjustments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With more workplaces moving to virtual working environments, employers and employees are communicating and working in new ways. These changes have also affected the way we define psychological safety in the workplace, with new types of misconduct on the rise for those who are working from home. 


Recent research reported by Bloomberg on virtual instances of bullying and harassment in the financial sector since March found an increase in hostile and offensive language used in the workplace (Martinuzzi, 2020). Though the COVID-19 pandemic is one major contributor to the recent increase in bullying and harassment in the virtual workplace, it is not the sole factor. Research following the impacts of the 2008 recession showed a significant increase in reported workplace harassment, with the incidence of harassment increasing alongside levels of financial insecurity (Martinuzzi, 2020). Strongly polarized opinions about the current political climate and views on adherence to public health measures can further contribute to stress in the workplace (Martinuzzi, 2020). 


Finding the right balance between public and private communication when working in a virtual environment is crucial. Constructive criticism and feedback should always be conducted privately between employees and their supervisors or managers, versus in group emails or communication channels. The importance of this was highlighted last year by employees of the luggage company Away. Away’s primary method of communication among employees was Slack, a widely-used messaging platform (Rice, 2020). Their company policies did not allow for private Slack messages between employees about anything work-related, resulting in employees often being publicly disciplined and even harassed by their superiors, including the company’s CEO (Rice, 2020). Further, because this all occurred online, evidence was readily available for employees to document the misconduct that occurred (Rice, 2020). Alternatively, virtual work environments also open up the doors for individuals to be excluded or cyberbullied in private conversations, emails, or video chats in ways that may not have occurred in physical workspaces, where bystanders are present (Martinuzzi, 2020). 


The blurring of the lines between work and home environments, particularly for working parents, has been a further challenge to navigate. Expectations for a typical workday, including physical appearance, workspace, and working hours are changing. If employers are transitioning to working from home, it is important to communicate individually with employees about their planned working hours, recognizing that adjustments may need to be made based on individual circumstances (Rice, 2020). Having a clearly defined work day can help prevent employees from feeling the need to always be available, and can promote psychological well-being for those new to working from home by helping to identify work/life balance and boundaries. If video meetings are required, employers should clearly identify expectations and requirements for employees’ home offices and physical appearance, and help to identify solutions for employees facing challenges in these areas (Rice, 2020). For example, meetings with colleagues in comfy clothes may be appropriate, but may not be appropriate for meetings with clients. Clarifying these expectations for all employees is not only a preventative measure, but can help to maintain a sense of normalcy during a time of great uncertainty and confusion. 


In order to maintain employee engagement, trust in the organization, and commitment to their work, employers must take virtual harassment seriously and work to create a culture that prevents maltreatment in the workplace (Rice, 2020). Creating a healthy virtual/work from home culture starts with strong leadership, fuelled by empathy and compassion for the challenges faced by both our employers and colleagues (Rice, 2020). Employers should clearly define expectations for virtual conduct in the workplace for all employees, while also working with employees individually to support their adjustment to working from home and to address any challenges or missteps that may occur. 


Employers and employees looking for more information on mental health resources available across Canada can be found through the Covid-19 Resource Hub from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). More information on creating psychologically-safe workplaces can be found in our Respect in the Workplace program. 




Martinuzzi, E. (2020, June 17). As work has moved home, so has harassment. Bloomberg.


Rice, D. (2020, September 14). Virtual harassment in the workplace: How bullying and misconduct moves online. HR Exchange Network. 



Empowering the bystander 101: Tools for Action in Sport, Schools & Workplaces

Empowering the bystander 101: Tools for Action in Sport, Schools & Workplaces

What Does it Mean to Empower the Bystander?

While many of us are well aware of the harm that can come to a child experiencing maltreatment (which includes bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination) many of us are unsure of what to do if we suspect or learn that a child has experienced maltreatment. Empowered bystanders have the knowledge and tools to take action when maltreatment is suspected or disclosed. This means that parents, coaches, and other youth leaders have a clear awareness and understanding of the signs of abuse and what constitutes maltreatment, what to do if a child discloses that they have been harmed, and the steps for reporting suspected maltreatment.

While this definition and the information below apply to sport and school contexts, the general theme of empowering the bystander and the tools for action described below can be applied in a variety of contexts, including the workplace. 

The Importance of Bystanders 

Maltreatment is an issue of power: the offender attempts to control or overpower the victim, causing harm. However, bystanders who suspect or are aware that maltreatment has occurred have an incredible amount of power to either better or worsen the situation, and ultimately, the outcomes for victims of maltreatment.

It is normal for individuals to delay or not disclose that they have experienced maltreatment. There are many reasons for not disclosing the harmful behaviours they are experiencing, including power differentials and feelings of powerlessness, fear of the perpetrator, isolation, silencing, a lack of bystander intervention, and organizational denial (Mountjoy et al., 2016). If bystanders witness or suspect maltreatment but do not say anything, either because of acceptance of the behaviour, non-intervention, denial or silence, victims may believe that the behaviour is acceptable and that they would be powerless if they chose to speak out (Mountjoy et al., 2016). The role of the bystander is crucial for individuals experiencing maltreatment to feel comfortable disclosing when they are experiencing abuse, to understand which behaviours are acceptable or unacceptable, and as advocates for the children in their care. 

How To Address Maltreatment: 

1. The Initial Conversation

If you suspect a child is experiencing maltreatment or they disclose to you an incident where they experienced harm, the first step is to discuss your concerns with the child. The conversation should be documented and should occur in a safe, confidential space. The Rule of Two still applies in this context, meaning that another adult should be present for the conversation. The conversation should be as open as possible; this means using active, empathetic listening and avoiding suggestive, directing, or leading questions (Jeckell et al., 2018). If disclosure happens when you are alone with a child, you should report the incident to your organization and make sure to follow up with the child and their parents as soon as possible to discuss the next steps.

It can be so hard to know what to say and distressing to hear that maltreatment has occurred. The most important things to remember are to:

    • Let the child know that you believe them 
    • Explain that what they experienced is not their fault and that the behaviour is not acceptable
    • Encourage them for being brave and coming forward to talk about the harm they experienced


Each situation should be treated individually and emotional and psychological support, as well as medical services, should be offered to the child depending on their needs (Jeckell et al., 2018). Resources like Kids Help Phone are available across Canada, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to support young people in distress. 

In addition to the process outlined above, parents can find more resources for supporting a child or youth who has disclosed abuse or misconduct through the tips outlined on 

2. Reporting Maltreatment

Any adult who suspects that a child has experienced maltreatment has a duty to report their concerns to the appropriate authorities. If you believe a child is in immediate danger, call 911. Your sport organization may also have an internal process for reporting instances of maltreatment. While it is crucial to contact local authorities to report the abuse, alerting the sport organization as soon as possible can help to protect other children and youth who may still be in the care of the alleged offender.

The Coaching Association of Canada has a full list of resources here that you can contact nationwide to report your concerns. Some of these resources include:

3. Prevention

After reporting the incident of maltreatment and taking steps to address the individual incident, it is important for organizations to review their internal processes to prevent maltreatment moving forward. According to Mountjoy et al., (2016) this can include:

  • Ensuring that there are clear policies and codes of conduct around safe sport and maltreatment prevention
  • Comprehensive, regular education and training around safe sport codes of conduct and practices
  • Maintaining or creating a standardized recruitment process for staff/volunteers that includes background screening 
  • Maintaining or developing a process for complaints and support
  • Continuing to monitor and evaluate safe sport practices 


While the information above in specific to sport, similar processes can be followed in schools and workplaces. If you suspect that bullying, abuse, harassment, or discrimination, also known as BAHD behaviours, are occurring in your school, it is important to contact local authorities and the school board to report your concerns. In addition, you can explore the procedures for reporting incidents of BAHD behaviours through your local school board’s website. One example of this is the Toronto District School Board’s policies and procedures (found here) on bullying, which include additional resources for parents and teachers to explore.

If BAHD behaviours are occurring in your workplace, processes for reporting may differ depending on your location. You can learn more about seeking support, supporting others, and creating culture change to prevent BAHD behaviours through the resources from the Workplace Strategies for Mental Health

Lastly, you can learn more about recognizing BAHD behaviours and tips for action through the resources below:



Jeckell, A. S., Copenhaver, E. A., & Diamond, A. B. (2018). The spectrum of hazing and peer sexual abuse in sports: A current perspective. Sports Health, 10(6), 558-564.

Mountjoy, M., Brackenridge, C., Arrington, M., Blauwet, C., Carska-Sheppard, A., Fasting, K., … & Starr, K. (2016). International Olympic Committee consensus statement: harassment and abuse (non-accidental violence) in sport. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(17), 1019-1029.

Dark Cloud Summary

Dark Cloud Summary

Cyberbullying is a complex problem without a simple solution, and knowing where and how to seek help can be challenging. Dark Cloud, a Telus Originals documentary from filmmakers Holly Dupej and Matthew Embry, tells the stories of those who have experienced cyberbullying and those who advocate for hope. Guided by the work and experiences of Carol Todd, in honour of her daughter Amanda, Dark Cloud brings together the expertise of those who research cyberbullying with those who have experienced it firsthand to examine the harms associated with cyberbullying and strategies for prevention.


Cyberbullying is widespread and experienced by many. Dark Cloud reports that 60% of Canadian youth have witnessed some form of cyberbullying in the last month, while over 1 million youth experienced cyberbullying firsthand. Further, according to Statistics Canada, 41% of youth who have experienced cyberbullying reported an emotional, psychological, or mental health condition (Hango, 2016). Unlike bullying that occurs in-person, cyberbullying can follow a victim throughout their daily life, with the potential to be widely seen and shared. 


The emerging message of Dark Cloud is one of hope and leadership. When adults model kindness and respect, young people learn to become kind and respectful to their peers. When young people step in and support one another in standing against bullying, victims learn that they are not alone. Dark Cloud can be viewed here in English and here in French, and more information and resources on preventing cyberbullying can be found through the organizations below:





Hango, D. W. (2016). Cyberbullying and cyberstalking among Internet users aged 15 to 29 in Canada. Ottawa, Ontario: Statistics Canada.


National Bullying Prevention & Intervention Week

National Bullying Prevention & Intervention Week

November 16-20, 2020 is National Bullying Prevention and Intervention Week. According to the Promoting Relationships & Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet), bullying affects the majority of young people; in an average classroom of 35 children, 4-6 children are bullying others or being bullied, with many others witnessing these harmful acts (PREVNet, 2020). The effects of bullying are serious and have both short- and long-term impacts on young people who bully and are bullied, including poorer academic performance, mental health challenges, and a greater likelihood of engaging in risky/dangerous behaviours (PREVNet, 2020).

If bullying is not adequately addressed in childhood, problems can persist into adulthood, with bullying and other forms of maltreatment occurring in different relationships and environments, including the home and the workplace (PREVNet, 2020). Addressing bullying in childhood by empowering youth and adults to step up and step in when bullying occurs can help to prevent the harms experienced by young people who are being bullied. As described in the resources below, we all have a role in standing up to bullying.

Resources for Youth:


Resources for Parents:


Resources for Teachers and Educators:


Reference: PREVNet. (2019). Bullying: Facts & Solutions. Retrieved from



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