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Discussing Pro Athlete Misbehavior With Your Athletes

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PCA National Advisory Board Member William S. Pollack, Ph.D., FAACP is the Founding Principal of the National Violence Prevention and Study Center & The Centers for Men, Young Men & Boys, an Independent Consultant on Bullying, Behavioral Threat Assessment and the creation of “Safe Climates.” He is Associate Clinical Professor (Psychology) in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Faculty member & Senior Consultant at the Departments of Psychiatry at McLean Hospital and the Cambridge Health Alliance. Pollack also authored Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Masculinity where he articulated the idea of “the boy code” and the pressures toward bullying and violence.

Here, Pollack advises parents and coaches how to discuss pro athlete misbehavior with their kids. High-profile athletes are role models, whether we like it or not, so when an incident makes the news it’s important that coaches and parents seize those teachable moments and have conversations with their youth athletes.

How to approach the conversation depends on the kid’s age. Children under age 10 may not be attuned enough to media to know of the incident, and you may want to wait for them to ask you about the matter. Kids in middle school and high school, however, will have certainly heard about the incident through social media or their friends, so parents and coaches should assume they know and approach them directly to discuss.