In an effort to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence, two high schools in Washington state are encouraging coaches to start a conversation with players about respecting women.
Garfield High School and O'Dea High School both take part in the Coaching Boys into Men program. Over the course of a season, the coaches and players have about a dozen 15-20 minute talks.
"I think the biggest thing is open dialogue, and showing the young men how we can do better," said Garfield Football Coach Joey Thomas.
James Beck, a coach for O'Dea, says each week there is a different lesson.
"It is just awareness about the role they can take or what they can do to hopefully, one day, end violence against women," said Beck.
Rebecca Milliman is with Harborview's Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress Center. She trains the coaches.
"Athletes have a very close relationship with the coach. To have the coach be the one to deliver the information can really make a huge impact," said Milliman.
"In coaching sometimes, you know you use words, 'you are playing like a girl.' And that's demeaning to our women," said Thomas.
"Making you aware of your behavior, how you treat women, the do's and the dont's," Thomas explained.
Milliman says it's a conversation that needs to happen.
"We still see astronomical rates of domestic violence and sexual assault. We know that one in four girls, and one in 10 boys will experience some form of sexual assault by the time they turn 18," said Milliman.
"Society didn't get this way overnight, and it's not going to change overnight," said Thomas. "You can't change it if you don't talk about it."
That's why the coaches are determined to teach players the skills to win on the field and in life.
Coaching Boys into Men is an evidence-based, violence prevention program geared toward male athletes and delivered by coaches, according to Milliman. The hope is, if athletes represent respect, nonviolence, and integrity, then those behaviors will spread throughout the school.
During Friday night's football game, players for O'Dea and Garfield wore purple and teal ribbons on their shoes. The purple is to raise awareness for domestic violence, and the teal is to raise awareness for sexual assault.
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