Respect Group Inc.

Respect Group Inc.

December 13, 2011 11:24 ET

Respect Group Inc.: Kennedy Tells Congress to Focus on Bystanders Not Just Abusers

Former NHLer Appears Before Washington Subcommittee on Preventing Child Abuse

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Dec. 13, 2011) - Former NHL hockey player and co-founder of Respect Group Inc. (RGI) Sheldon Kennedy testified today before the United States Congressional Subcommittee on Children and Families. He said that the best way to prevent abuse, bullying and harassment was to engage and educate the bystanders.

"As a society, we focus too much on punishing the bad guys. That's only part of the solution," said Kennedy. "In my experience, an abused child has to speak to 7 adults before their claims are taken seriously. This is what we have to tackle."

Respect Group Inc. operates online educational training for sports leaders, teachers, parents and businesses on how to recognize and then act on cases of abuse. In partnership with the Canadian Red Cross, RGI runs Respect in Sport for Hockey Canada, Sport Manitoba, Ontario Soccer, Gymnastics Canada, USA Triathlon and USRowing.

"If you went out on the street in Washington, Toronto or at Penn State University and asked people for a definition of bullying, harassment and abuse, most wouldn't be able to give you one," said Kennedy. "Fewer still would know what to do or how to report it. If we can change that, we can better protect our children."

"Senator Mikulski and her fellow committee members deserve a lot of praise for taking this issue so seriously. I also give them credit for taking more than just a law-and-order approach to the problem," concluded Kennedy. "In Canada, sports groups and other youth organizations realize that education and empowerment are the keys to prevention and protection. I hope that the Canadian experience will play a role in shaping U.S. policy on this vitally important matter."

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