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What Can Sports Parents Learn from the Sandusky Trial?

  
  
  

Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was recently found guilty of 45 of the 48 counts brought against him for sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15 year period. The initial allegations rocked the world of collegiate sports and the impact very quickly worked its way into youth sports, where conversations about sexual abuse in sports and the importance of coach/volunteer background checks were thrust into the spotlight.

Here are 3 valuable lessons sports parents can learn from the Sandusky trial:

1. Listen when your children talk.

One of Sandusky’s victims said he went to guidance counselors to report the abuse, but that they didn’t believe him as Sandusky’s reputation for philanthropy overrode the boy’s claims. Many victims of sexual abuse don’t report their abuse out of shame, and they fear that no one will believe them. Many predators take advantage of this fear and use it to control their victims and protect themselves. It takes an immense amount of courage to admit to abuse, especially for a child, so parents shouldn’t dismiss their claims simply because you can’t imagine the person they accuse of being guilty.What Can Sports Parents Learn from the Sandusky Trial?

2. Teach your children what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior.

It may not be the most comfortable conversation to have with your child, but it’s very important that they learn early on what is and what appropriate behavior isn’t, especially with regards to touching. Many predators start with innocuous behavior, like a hand on the knee, to build a level of trust with their victims. But at some point the line between innocuous and inappropriate becomes very clear, provided you know the difference. It’s important to teach your children to recognize that line, as well as what to do when someone crosses it.

3. Be aware for changes in behavior.

It’s important to recognize when something seems “off” with your child and their behavior. Are they acting out? Becoming more withdrawn? Changes in mood, behavior or school performance and reluctance to participate in activities are potential signs of abuse.

When it comes to sports organizations, parents should ask that leagues adopt the Boy Scout practice of “two-deep leadership,” which ensures that no child is left alone with an adult. This ensures that there are always two adults present. If it is not already in place, insist on mandatory background checks of all employees, coaching and volunteers that work for your community’s sports organization. Preventative measures like these may not be fool-proof, but when coupled with a watchful eye they can go a long way in preventing sexual abuse in youth sports.

Comments

So glad you posted this article - it is so important for parents to talk about this with their kids and watch for signs!
Posted @ Tuesday, July 03, 2012 10:10 PM by Wendy Lynne
Jodi, Sandusky has forever changed youth sports. Every one of us adults now has to prove we are not harming kids. Caution at every turn has to exercised by coaches and parents. It will be disturbing for all the good folks to go through but it is for our own protection. I have written about this too. Feel free to use it if it can be of any help. 
 
<a>http://www.coachandplaybaseball.com/sports-parents.html<a> 
 
Dave Holt
Posted @ Thursday, July 05, 2012 4:23 PM by Dave Holt
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