Children are taught at young ages to trust the coach, an adult in a position of authority. The right coach can change a child’s life—teaching and modeling sportsmanship, competition and teamwork. The wrong coach can scar a child for life. Unfortunately, a growing number of sexual predators are using sports to gain access to children. Regardless of a child’s age or gender, parents of student athletes must be vigilant. Here are important questions parents should ask youth sports organizations about abuse prevention:
- Does the youth-sports organization conduct a background check on coaches and others who supervise and have access to the children?
- Are there other adults present, besides the coach, to assist in supervising children during team events and practices, including any off-site travel?
- Does the team use a locker room for children to dress, and, if so, is there more than one adult present in the locker room when children are using it?
- Does the team or organization communicate with and notify parents and guardians of the activity schedule?
- Does the coach pay equal attention to all children?
To read more about abuse prevention, please visit our friends at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to see their Safe To Compete, Protecting Child Athletes from Sexual Abuse program at safetocompete.org.