In the wake of Steubenville, coaches to get sexual assault prevention resources after 65,000 join students’ campaign


May 8, 2013



Shareeza Bhola, Communications Manager,




A college football player and a student rape survivor advocate garnered more than 65,000 signatures on their petition asking the National Federation of High School Associations to provide tools for coaches to prevent another Steubenville

The new resources will be available online at no cost to coaches in over 18,500 schools, reaching more than 11 million students


NEW YORK, NY – After more than 65,000 people signed two students' petition on calling for more sexual assault prevention training for high school coaches, the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS), the nation's largest high school coaches group, has announced that new resources would be made available to coaches nationwide to help them prevent rape and sexual violence.


Connor Clancy, a football player at Colby College, and Carmen Rios, a survivor advocate and member of the SPARK Movement, launched their petition in the wake of the Steubenville, Ohio, trial of two student athletes who were found guilty of raping a student from a neighboring school. Connor and Carmen’s aim was to empower coaches, who are role models for the athletes they train, to prevent other tragedies like the one that occurred in Steubenville.


“I’m excited and hopeful that we will see a change in the culture of athletes across the nation. This wouldn't have been possible without the NFHS, and I can not thank them enough for being leaders in educating young men about sexual violence prevention,” said Connor Clancy. “Thank you to all who signed the petition and are working towards a brighter, healthier future.”


As a result of Connor and Carmen’s campaign, the NFHS has agreed to work with a coalition that includes the SPARK Movement and the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence to provide links to resources within their online trainings, which are used by coaches in 18,000 schools across the country, for coaches to use to talk to student athletes about the definition of rape and sexual assault, how to intervene, and to report the crime to the appropriate authorities. Other members of the coalition are Futures Without Violence, Mentors in Violence Prevention, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, AEquitas, and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.


“The collaboration between this coalition of national and state organizations and the National Federation of State High School Associations is exciting and timely,” says Katie Hanna, executive director of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, who was in Steubenville for the trial in March. “We applaud the leadership of the NFHS for addressing this important issue. The partnering organizations will be providing resources for high school coaches to prevent sexual violence and engage their student athletes in meaningful, proactive dialogue to raise awareness about rape and to become an engaged bystander that intervenes before, during or after something happens.”


"We are pleased to work with SPARK Movement and their partners throughout the United States to provide resources in sexual violence prevention to the millions of coaches, athletic directors, school administrators and parents who are involved in interscholastic sports in America,” Tim Flannery, director of Coaches' Education at the NFHS said. “At a time when so much attention is spent covering the horrific event in Steubenville, Ohio, the NFHS is proactively working toward a solution by educating coaches about their role in supervising and protecting the students they serve through courses available on The NFHS will continue to collaborate with SPARK and other national organizations by providing coaches resources and tool kits to minimize sexual violence."


The group plans to email their national list of coaches about the new resources and has invited SPARK to write an article about these resources for their newsletter to be sent to 80,000 school board presidents and athletic directors.


“I'm extremely proud of the NFHS for taking our recommendations to heart and really hearing us out on this issue. Their commitment is amazing, and so is the collective voice which made this possible,” said Carmen Rios, who started the petition with Connor. “In a world where rape culture often seems insurmountable, and new stories of violence come into our lives each day, it's amazing to see so many people rallying for a new world.”


Journalists interested in setting up an interview with Connor and Carmen should use the contact details at the top of the page.


Live signature totals from Carmen and Connor’s campaign:



For more information on SPARK Movement, please visit:

SPARK is a girl-fueled activist movement to demand an end to the sexualization of women and girls in media. SPARK collaborates with hundreds of girls 13-23 and more than 60 national organizations to reject the commodified, sexualized images of girls in media and support the development of girls' healthy sexuality and self-esteem.


For more information on, please visit: is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by two million new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.




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