"AK.Nädal" feature: How to stop sexual abuse of minors in sports

Maarja Punak
Maarja Punak Source: ERR

Criminal proceedings have been opened against the Nõmme Kalju football coach Getulio Aurelio Fredo who is suspected of sexual abuse of minors. Raising awareness and prevention are important but unfortunately, not all clubs have taken these steps, ETV's weekly news show "AK.Nädal" reported on Sunday.

Last week, a young female footballer's story began a countrywide debate that snowballed. How to notice, prevent, seek help - and do it years later?

Nõmme Kalju's coach Getulio Aurelio Fredo's case shocked the public last week after former young footballer Mia Belle Trisna's accusations, the then 54-year-old coach abused her when she was 14-year-old but the coach says they had a seven-year relationship. The Football Association started a disciplinary investigation and Fredo has been sentenced to an indefinite ban and criminal proceedings have been initiated in two other cases.

However, it can be assumed that all this story only scratches the surface and many women in Estonia have been exposed to something similar.

"I know that feeling. And it's fear. And that's a kind of paralysis and when that moment came, I don't remember what the coach said ... I remember what he said before, but at that moment I don't remember what the coach said," said coach and physical education teacher Janne Schasmin.

Schasmin has a similar story related to a sports camp for teenagers. Today, the coach is no longer alive. She became aware of the problem a few years ago when coaches organized a training session on the topic.

"I am very grateful that such training is now given to coaches because my first thought as a coach is that oh no, there are no such things in our work. I haven't noticed, I haven't done it and I know that I don't. When this thing came to an end, it came to me that such knowledge could come to the rescue ... I have been in that situation myself. I know exactly how this 14-15 year old felt. This is where prevention is needed."

Police officer and footballer Maarja Punak believe the problem is bigger than it seems - even if the issue is not directly tied to sexual abuse, but deeply unethical cases. She also has experience with the issue when a rival team's coach stepped into changing room.

"I said sorry, you have to leave because women are changing here and the coach answered but "I'm not looking at you, I'm only looking at my own team", who were young girls getting changed," Punak recalls. "And I went to the organizers and said it is not okay that a male coach comes into the changing rooms where there are young girls. And I can't imagine how it's allowed that the coach can be in the same room with the team. This is not okay."

Last week, more than ever before, people turned to the Social Insurance Board regarding cases similar to Mia Belle's.

"Yes, and in fact, I should say that we are happy. It is sad to say that, but the fact is that a very large proportion of children have been sexually abused and it is hidden," said Anna Frank-Viron, head of the Social Insurance Agency's orphanage service.

"Public appearances and the urgency of this issue give courage to children and, also to adults, to voice these concerns - whether it is turning to the police or a call for help. It is never too late. Mia Belle's story is so valuable to all other victims because it also gives them the courage to seek help. Not everyone wants to turn to the police, especially adults."

In addition to the police emergency number, help can also be found on the lasteabi website, where it also possible to chat online.

However, prevention is also important, Punak said.

Janne Schasmin emphasized the importance of mental well-being in both training and communication. Coaches should not be afraid to talk about this either.

"When we get behind the table, parents are also very important. We need to involve children and young people to understand these things in the same way. If we can move on from there, it's a big step towards prevention, which is important. We must be more proactive, more noticeable, more courageous in that sense. "


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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