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Ask Lisi: Take action when child uses racial slur at sports camp

Children seem to have different rules
Lisi Tesher, for Ask Ellie column

Dear Lisi: I’m a 21-year-old university student, working for an outdoor after-school sports program in the small town where my university is located. I don’t know any of the local families here and I am not from the same cultural background as most of them.

I only mention this because the kids who attend the program are different from kids with whom I grew up. These kids are extremely rude and disrespectful to me and the other people who work here. They are also disrespectful of the equipment that we use and that they borrow while they are with us.

One little boy has broken two things already and it’s only week three. I have spoken to my supervisor, but I’m not sure how to speak to these children. I overheard one of my co-workers tell a child that he needed to sit and not play after he called her a racial slur. Though I thought that was fair, the child’s parent came over and started yelling at my co-worker.

How are we supposed to react?

Confused coach

From my experience, most sports programs, if they are legitimately run, have some form of code of conduct for all players, including some guidelines for the parents.

I also assume that in your contract there were some written guidelines on your expected behaviour. I suggest going through both of those and reading the fine print.

I would also talk to your supervisor and the person who hired you. Use the example you gave me and any others you have encountered. There is absolutely no way that a child should be excused for using a racial slur. That’s unacceptable.

Dear Lisi: My father walked out on me and my mom when I was four years old. My mom was devastated. She thought they had a normal, healthy relationship and they had started trying for a second child. One day, he just didn’t come home from work.

My mom called him to see where he was, but he didn’t answer his phone. She called his office, but he had left at the usual time and they couldn’t reach him either. She called his family and friends, but no one knew where he was. She was up all night, frantic, but home with me, while friends and family went out on a search.

They finally found him drunk in a bar and he refused to come home. Apparently, he slept at a friend’s that night, then drove himself to the airport the next day, abandoned his car and flew away. He told his parents not to worry and he’d be in touch.

That was 20 years ago. My grandfather is getting old and would like to see his son before he dies, and my mom has an incurable cancer and won’t be around much longer. I’d like to find my dad. Do you think that’s a good idea?

Disappearing Dad

I can’t answer whether I think it’s a good idea or not because I don’t know enough about your dad. Do I think it’s OK to just up and walk away from your life, including parents, a wife and child? Absolutely not. But did your dad have legitimate reasons for leaving? I don’t know and I can only give him the benefit of the doubt.

He may have mental health issues or physical health issues; he may have regretted his decision but been unable to reach out; he may have already passed away.

I think if you want to try to find him, you should. But have zero expectations and make sure you have good support in place if and when you do find him.

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