Learning respect through open conversation

“I’ve learned to do the right thing, even when no one is looking.”

Daniel, 17, is a senior student at Chartiers Valley High School. He participates in football, wrestling and track & field.

Being a three-sport athlete, Daniel often has a lot on his mind and not a lot of spare time, but his coaches at Chartiers Valley High School make it a priority for Daniel and his teammates to participate in United Way’s Coaching Boys Into Men. The program, supported by Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, provides high school athletic coaches tools to promote long-term healthy behaviors among their players, by addressing topics including respectful relationships, consent, harassment and sexual assault. It is encouraging young men to become leaders in their school culture who can model respectful behaviors for their peers.

Through the program, athletes participate in discussions with their coaches about respect and consent. “We have had a discussion about once a week, and some of the main topics that are discussed are respect, integrity, accountability and honesty,” Daniel said.

In these discussions, young athletes like Daniel talk about what it means to respect women, others and themselves. “I’ve learned that every person deserves respect, no matter how well or how little you know them, no matter their views on any topic, and even if they don’t show you respect,” Daniel remarked.

Coaches have reported seeing a huge change in their players after starting the Coaching Boys Into Men program, but the players can also recognize the change and importance in having open conversations about respect and consent.

“I think it’s important to have these discussions with my coaches and teammates because it allows for a diverse group of opinions and experiences to pull from, and it benefits us all to learn from and through each other,” Daniel said.

To learn more about the Coaching Boys Into Men program, visit uwswpa.org/coaching-boys-into-men.