Reuters | Wed Apr 7, 2010 | 1:11 pm ET
More than 35 percent of adults worldwide have witnessed a parent become physically or verbally abusive toward a coach or official at a children’s sporting event, according to a joint Reuters/Ipsos poll. The survey of 23,000 adults in 22 countries by market research company Ipsos showed that irate, screaming, over-enthusiastic parents are not only found in Hollywood films and on television. People living in the United States (60 percent) were most likely to witness unsavory behavior by a parent followed closely by residents of India (59 percent), Italy (55 percent), Argentina (54 percent), Canada (53 percent) and Australia (50 percent).
But people in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Japan and France were the least likely to see parents behaving badly while their children played sports. "It’s ironic that the United States, which prides itself in being the most civilized country in the world, has the largest group of adults having witnessed abusive behavior at children’s sporting events" said John Wright, senior vice president of Ipsos. "There is clearly a fine line between participatory enthusiasm and abuse and parents, as role models, have got to keep that in mind and keep themselves in check for the sake of their children."
According to the survey, men (41 percent) were more likely than women (33 percent) to have witnessed abusive behavior. People in a higher income bracket and those who were more educated were also more likely to have seen parents acting physically and verbally abusive. "There is no difference in terms of marital status," Ipsos added in a statement, with a nearly identical percentage of married couples and people who ticked "other" status seeing abusive parental behavior toward coaches or officials.