MONTREAL (AFP) - More than 200 coaches of amateur sports in Canada have been convicted of sexual crimes against minors over the past 20 years, the public television network CBC reported Sunday (Feb 10).
The network's survey, covering a period from 1998 to 2018, found that 340 coaches were accused of sexual offenses, which resulted in 222 convictions in cases involving more than 600 youths under the age of 18.
It added that 34 more cases were still working their way through the courts.
CBC/Radio Canadia said it went through thousands of case files and visited numerous courts around the country to compile its database.
Sandra Kirby, a sociology professor at the University of Winnipeg and a former Olympic athlete, said the CBC findings were "just the tip of the iceberg" because sexual abuse is often not reported.
She said "massive reform" was needed to ensure youths can safely participate in organized sports.
"It's pretty gut-wrenching to see the findings," Lorraine Lafreniere, head of the Coaching Association of Canada, told CBC.
"There is a misguided sense of security when you drop your child off at the clubhouse."
CBC said the offenses it reviewed ranged from sexual abuse, to sexual exploitation to the production or possession of child pornography.
Nearly all of those convicted - 213 to 222 - were men but the victims were both boys and girls.
Canada's most emblematic sport, hockey, had the most cases of sexual misconduct by coaches - 86, of which 59 resulted in convictions.
Soccer, which attracts the largest number of youthful participants in Canada, was second with 40 people accused of sexual offenses and 27 convicted.
But cases of sexual abuse of minors turned up in every sport, the CBC said.