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Harassment awareness raised


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By TARREN LEWIS

The Mirror reporter

Harassment and abuse allegations are showing up more frequently in today’s headlines, one such example being the sexual harassment allegations against Kevin Spacey. Many believe that prevention could be achieved through educational programs on those topics in schools. The problem is not many programs like those exist, preventing the changes from happening. However, at Stevens Point Area Senior High School, varsity boys soccer coach Derek Bell implemented a program that does just that. The program brings in speakers who talk about harassment and abuse at its foundation. The program is called “Boys into Men.”

Assistant varsity boys soccer coach Brent Gostomski had been present throughout the entirety of the program, and even though the season has ended, he still sees change. “I think the program has made an impact. Our main goal was to increase the awareness of the players.”

When asked about the timing of the program, Gostomski said, “Earlier implementation of the program may have become more impactful for the students and the athletes.”

When asked about implementation in school, Gostomski stated, “I think that [the program] should be implemented in a normal school setting. It would have a positive impact on students as it is not normally discussed in the classroom.”

The program was used with the varsity and the junior varsity one teams, excluding a majority of the freshman players who did not make those teams. “It would have been nice to incorporate the freshman, as it was new to everyone this year, but it wasn’t a formal program [yet]. We will try next year to incorporate everyone and spread the message through freshman year to senior year.”

Gostomski said, “The program will be continued into next year and the future with positive feedback from the players, and the differences that they themselves have noticed.”

The program utilized guest speakers who shared their stories of harassment and abuse.

“We are interested in anyone who has a story to tell that is impactful for the athletes,” Gostomski said. “In today’s society it is something that has become important and people have become aware of it. Young athletes need to become more aware of what to do when they are in these situations, and that is the whole purpose of the program, to spread this awareness.”

The program may also spread to other sports as well, as many athletes do multiple sports and bring with them their experience and skill sets. SPASH athletic director Mike Blair said, “I think it’s a wonderful program, it sends a positive message, and hopefully it opens the eyes of the team members going through the program.

“We would be open to using the program in other boys sports and I think all of our coaches and boys sports teams deliver positive messages to others. Not necessary just through the Boys into Men program, but through growing up and becoming members of society. If the program were to be used in other sports, Mr. Bell would be asked to be a sort of ‘mentor’ to other coaches.

“It could never hurt to implement the program for girls sports as well,” Blair said, “Different programs that are out there could definitely benefit young girls turning into women.”

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