Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) is a character building curriculum for coaches and athletes founded by non-profit advocacy group Futures Without Violence.
It is a growing component of Governor Sean Parnell’s Choose Respect initiative, an effort to end the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The curriculum melds coaches' status as role models with athletes' influence among their peers into a collective effort to end this violence.
Coaches are often judged simply by wins and losses on the court or field, but the philosophies underpinning this curriculum help them to lead team members to win in life.
CBIM empowers these teens; it plays a significant role in ending violence against women and girls.
Coaches become part of the solution – stopping the violence before it starts.
They learn how to motivate boys to avoid being complacent bystanders. And they are shown how to encourage boys to speak out against domestic violence and sexual assault, which is the first step toward breaking the cycle of violence.
John Blasco from Juneau’s Thunder Mountain High School boys’ basketball team, is one of those coaches.
In 2010, Blasco revised his game plan for his team, and it had nothing to do with layups, outside shots, or rebounds.
Blasco integrated the CBIM program, teaching his players to hold themselves and each other more accountable for their off-court actions and their game day performance.
Blasco didn’t just stand courtside with a whistle and clipboard, preaching respectful behavior and the merits of personal responsibility. He and his players took their message of respect to the public.
Players recorded public service announcements that aired on Juneau radio stations during morning and evening commutes.
They participated in the White Ribbon Campaign, a public pledge to never “commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women.”
The boys would occasionally wear Choose Respect t-shirts during pregame warm ups, extending their message to out-of-town opponents.
The team had a dominant presence at Juneau’s Choose Respect rally and march in 2012. They made their signs visible at all times while their coach stood on the Capitol steps and addressed the crowd.
Coach Blasco’s message has spread. Now, the Juneau-Douglas High School (JDHS) boys’ basketball team has adopted the curriculum, as well as the JDHS boys’ cross country team.
Blasco first heard about Coaching Boys Into Men from Juneau’s domestic violence and sexual assault program, Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE). AWARE has been working for many years on several primary prevention and education projects for men and boys, and has been instrumental in ensuring the success of CBIM in Juneau and across the state.
In March of 2012, The Journal of Adolescent Health published results from a three-year study examining the prospective benefits generated from CBIM.
Researchers from universities in Pennsylvania and California found the curriculum to be successful in discouraging teen dating violence and other abuses.
Among the findings:
- The program’s participants were more likely to intervene in conflicts involving disrespectful or harmful behavior among their peers.
- CBIM participants were slightly more likely to identify abusive behavior than those who did not participate in the program.
- Participants reported a lower rate of verbal abuse against a female partner after participating in the program.
Researchers believe the program illustrates that it is possible to prevent violence before it happens. They also concluded that coaches are ideal role models who can mold athletes’ attitudes toward females and healthy relationships.
The article concludes: “Coaches are a natural ally for such interventions; their role as influential, non-parental role models renders them uniquely poised to positively impact how young men think and behave. Thus, training coaches to teach adolescent male athletes to prevent (domestic violence) may be a promising strategy to increase knowledge, attitudes and behaviors that reduce (domestic violence) perpetration.”
In 2012, Governor Parnell’s Choose Respect team began providing CBIM training to coaches statewide.
In August, the State reached out to the Alaska Association of School Boards, school district superintendents, and the Alaska School Activities Association to discuss how best to engage coaches, provide training, and implement the curriculum into as many boys athletic teams in as many high schools as possible.
With support from Futures Without Violence, the Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and the Department of Education and Early Development, the training will continue to be provided to interested coaches.