No More Steubenvilles: Educate Coaches About Sexual Assault
  • Petitioned National Federation of High School Associations

This petition was delivered to:

National Federation of High School Associations

No More Steubenvilles: Educate Coaches About Sexual Assault

    1. Petition by

      Carmen Rios & Connor Clancy

May 2013


A message from Carmen Rios:

I’m excited to announce today that SPARK is entering into a new partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations in an effort to educate high school athletes widely on sexual assault.

Over 65,000 people signed SPARK’s petition, penned by Colby College football player Connor Clancy and I, asking the NFHS to instate an optional sexual assault prevention course for coaches as part of coaches’ annual accreditation requirements. In response, the organization–bringing with it massive numbers of human beings–is coming forward with various resources for coaches to prevent another Steubenville and have conversations about sexual violence before it happens. Nearly 100,000 high school athletic coaches will soon have easy access to resources about sexual violence prevention. And that’s not all: NFHS has over one million members, including high school coaches, athletic directors, teachers, administrators and parents who influence 11 million students. This development stems from a partnership between NFHS and SPARK, together with the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Futures Without Violence, Mentors in Violence Prevention, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

Connor and I launched our campaign knowing that sexual assaults across the country could have been–and can be–prevented with the proper educational structures in place and with educators who are willing to take a stand against sexual violence, no matter what. We knew that coaches serve as role models and mentors to athletes across the nation and play an integral role in shaping students into adults. The missing piece was harnessing coaches’ impact in a structured and organized way and helping them to rally together to make positive impacts in their communities.

In March, we asked that the NFHS bring a coalition to the table to craft a curriculum for coaches willing to take on the important work of advocacy and education around sexual assault in their communities. Now, these resources will be reaching over 18,500 schools, 11 million athletes, and countless more students.

To everyone who made this possible: thank you. Well-played.

To find out more about SPARK Movement and join them in their other actions, visit:

We are Connor and Carmen, a student athlete and a young feminist activist with SPARK Movement, and we are fed up with hearing the stories of male athletes committing acts of violence against young women from Johannesburg, South Africa to Steubenville, Ohio. We are sick of the sports communities surrounding them blindly supporting the boys and men, seemingly terrified of disrupting their athlete-hero culture that celebrates the local “golden boys” whose behavior has no consequences and ignores the voices and experiences of the girls and women they hurt. We need to change this culture that tolerates violence. We need solutions.

As the trial in Steubenville played out before national audience, we heard about the violent and horrific experiences of a teenage girl, assaulted by local football playersduring a party weekend. We also know that one in four women and girls will be raped or assaulted by the time they turn 18. As a nation, we have a history of overlooking assault when it's committed by athletes, from the high school level to university programs to professional sports. But most athletes and coaches, like most men and most people, think sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence need to stop. Empowering coaches, who are mentors to young men, to begin difficult and complex conversations about sexual violence could create long-lasting change in communities across the nation and lead to curbing, and even ending, sexual violence. Behavior and attitudes change when important information on the topic comes from a trusted source. Students are willing (and often eager) to listen, but often only to people they respect.

We are asking the National Federation of High School Associations, which offers annual required trainings for coaches in order for them to remain accredited, to partner with nationally recognized activist organizations to develop a course on sexual violence prevention for high school coaches. Coaches must be provided with the opportunity to learn how to foster a violence-free culture among their athletes in the locker room, on the playing fields and also in school hallways and weekend parties. As local “heroes” and role models, we need athletes to lead their communities toward a rape-free climate, and we expect coaches to be prepared to initiate and foster dialogue with their athletes around issues of sexual violence that are productive and educational. The role coaches play in the lives of athletes - as role models, mentors, and thought leaders to a large portion of the youth community - is invaluable. By training coaches to understand how to address this issue with young male athletes, we can make valuable steps toward safer communities across the United States.

Support this initiative and request that the NFHS offers a violence-prevention course for high school coaches by signing on below.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 50,000 signatures
    2. Take Action: #EducateCoaches in Sexual Assault Prevention

      Shelby Knox
      Senior Campaigner

      Carmen Rios, who co-launched this campaign with college football player Connor Clancy, writes for SPARK Movement about why ACTION is needed to end rape culture in sports. "We need boys and men to take responsibility for their part in a rape-free world, and we need to make sure that their role models and heroes are committed to making that happen."

      Take Action: #EducateCoaches in Sexual Assault Prevention | SPARK Movement

      by Carmen Rios This past December, the US looked on in horror as a case of vicious sexual assault unfolded in Steubenville, OH. With the trial set to begin this Wednesday, what began as a local event will become a national conversation.

    3. Reached 25,000 signatures



    Mar 19, 2013

    Hey @CNN I know you've got a lot of time to fill, but you can do better than the "poor convicted rapists" angle

    James Van Der Beek


    Mar 13, 2013

    Sign the petition here #EducateCoaches



    Mar 14, 2013

    Have you signed on to help #educatecoaches about rape?

    THE LINE Campaign


    Mar 11, 2013

    Help us #EducateCoaches about sexual assault prevention: @MenStopViolence @MasculinityU @mencanstoprape

    SPARK Movement


    Mar 12, 2013

    RT @hayslettc: “@SPARKsummit: Help us #EducateCoaches about sexual assault prevention: @MenStopViolence @Masculinity



    Mar 12, 2013

    .@SPARKsummit How can we become a Supporter on your page? #EducateCoaches

    Men Can Stop Rape


    Mar 11, 2013

    .@SPARKsummit just launched a petition calling for high school coaches to be educated about sexual assault #TYZerlina

    Zerlina Maxwell

    Reasons for signing

    • Dorothy Barreca ARNOLD, MD
      • over 1 year ago

      No one should be raped. A lot of anguish to many people; victim, family, friends, community and rapist, could be avoided if this crime was not committed.

    • Lisa Lescarbeau MINNETONKA, MN
      • over 1 year ago

      Sad that CNN and other media outlets wasted so much air time on how these young mens lives "would be ruined." How about spending equal time discussing why young men think it's okay and even triumphant to rape and young girl, urinate on her and take pictures. Sad. Sad. Sad.

    • Dona Smith NEDERLAND, CO
      • over 1 year ago

      because i have seen too many women hurting from this kind of behavior.

    • Brianna Roberts OAKLAND, CA
      • over 1 year ago

      This is a great idea!!!

    • Denise Wynne SEDONA, AZ
      • over 1 year ago

      Survivor of sexual assault and also of this culture that denies and minimizes its existence and effects and role in maintenance of an oppressive power structure...


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