The Control Yuan on Saturday urged the Ministry of Education to do more to prevent the sexual abuse of student athletes after a report revealed 548 complaints alleging contraventions of the Gender Equity Education Act (性別平等教育法) in sports programs since 2014.
Control Yuan members Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠), Hsiao Tsu-yu (蕭自佑) and Jao Yung-ching (趙永清) said in a statement that the ministry must do more to combat abuse in athletics programs.
The Control Yuan reviewed records of complaints made to education authorities involving athletics classes and sports teams at primary and secondary schools.
Students participating in athletics programs are at an increased risk of abuse due to the power imbalance inherent in the student-coach relationship, the Control Yuan members said in a report.
Baseball, basketball, judo, taekwondo, and track and field are some of the programs that had the most complaints in the nation’s education system, the report said.
Part-time coaches are poorly supervised, receive no standardized gender-equality training and their hiring is governed by an “interpretation of law” document instead of regulations, it said.
While the ministry has established regulations to govern the hiring of full-time coaches, its materials for gender-equality training is oversimplified and outdated, it added.
About 60 percent of K-12 students in special sports programs board at their schools, despite a ministry policy preference for elementary and junior-high schools to not provide living arrangements, it said.
As a result, school dormitories for athletics programs have no official staff and are essentially unregulated, making them potential hotbeds of abuse, it said.
The ministry should recognize that there are students in athletic programs that live at schools, and it therefore must create regulations to protect their safety, it added.
Such oversight is also necessary for temporary lodging for students when they are competing in sports events, it said.
Students in special sports programs or on teams often live and travel together, meaning that rules must be in place to prevent or address bullying from other students or abuse from coaches, the report said, adding that the ministry should review policies to police athletics in other countries.
Students in athletics programs should also be educated on body autonomy and gender equality, it said.
The ministry’s Sports Administration and K-12 Education Administration must improve interagency cooperation in protecting young athletes, it added.