Participating in sports as a youngster is frequently promoted as a productive, pleasant, and socializing activity and is frequently supported by parents across the country. The same elements that form a loving environment and promote healthy personal growth could also facilitate sexually abusive behavior. Pedophiles are attracted to situations that put them in contact with possible victims, which is one of several reasons for sexual assault in youth sports.
It is critical to recognize that sexual abuse of children does not always entail touching or direct physical contact. Sexual exposure, nudity photos, crude sexual humor, failed sexual advances, intimidation, and threats are all examples of sexual abuse. Our attorneys at Sex Crime Attorney can assist you or your child if either of you has been a sexual abuse victim in youth sports. We serve the Los Angeles area. Below is a compilation of vital information that might shed more light on sexual abuse in youth sports.
Understanding Sexual Abuse in Youth Sports
Adult abusers may pursue males and females of every age in both the private and public competitive and recreational sports sectors. Abuse can happen "on-site" (for example, in the child's school) or "off-site" (like an independently sponsored sports event or training facility).
Abusers could take any form, but in most reported cases, they include:
- The team's medical staff
- Gym facility owners or supervisors
The abuser's ability to wield power, authority, and trust due to their official position only adds to the complexities of a victim's unwillingness to expose the abuse. The fact that many people attach the same characteristics to the offender at least for a time adds to the problem's pervasiveness.
Sexual Abuse Demographics
According to a survey commissioned by Lauren's Kids, a nonprofit organization that strives to enlighten parents and children about sexual violence, over one in four current or former young athletes surveyed admitted to being sexually abused or harassed by an individual in a powerful position on campus, compared to one in ten in the overall population.
According to the poll, athletes were about 2.5 times more likely to indicate they had experienced similar abuse, and the most commonly recognized abusers in the group were coaches.
Several media houses have highlighted different cases of youth sports sexual abuse. One such incident was in 2018 when Nassar, a former the United States Gymnastics Team doctor, was found guilty of sexually abusing his teenage patients. He was thus sentenced to between 40 to 175 years imprisonment.
A total of 156 girls and women spoke out during his trial about the assault they suffered while under their doctor's care. Most of those survivors described how the gym organization leaders ignored, dismissed, or hushed their abuse complaints. Nassar had been sexually abusing minors for about twenty-five years before getting caught.
How Youth Sports Sexual Abuse Occurs
"Groomers" and "grabbers" are the two types of juvenile sexual predators. Grooming is the most common form of sexual misbehavior, and it's easy to confuse it with harmless behavior. Protecting children from inappropriate boundary incursions is the best approach to safeguard them from sexual grooming and sexual misconduct.
In most cases, the sexual predators would follow the steps below:
Targeting the Victim
This entails getting a victim who:
- Is a male or female with low self-esteem and emotionally needy
- Has un-involved parents or comes from a single-parent home
- Parental attitudes toward sex and prevention methods
- Is a high performing-elite athlete dedicated and ready to make sacrifices to be on top
- Is strongly devoted to the to coach and sport
- Has low awareness of sexual assault or sex
- Is passionate and hardworking in the sport
- Comes from a dismissive family
- Comes from a family that likes the trainer and are close with him
The predator will gather all the information he could get on the victim. These include:
- Getting details about the athlete and his family, including the organization. He thus becomes a trusted person.
- Driving the children to practice, giving them money or equipment whenever needed. He presents himself as a perfect father figure to the kids.
- Being the child's cheerleader, he always commends his performance.
- Both the families and the teammates need him.
Based on the trust built, the sex predator will use this newfound relationship with different individuals to isolate the victim. No one becomes suspicious as they all consent to this relation and view it as an innocent association. You might observe things like:
- Driving alone with the child
- Babysitting or offering private lessons
- Sharing hotel rooms when out of town for sports
- Going to movie nights, games, and other social activities together.
- The predator claims a unique relationship where he appreciates the victim more than any other person, including his parents.
Beginning of Sexual Abuse and Secrecy
Having won the athlete's trust and emotional dependence, the predator now sexualizes their relationship by:
- Sharing videos, pictures, sexting, or pornography
- Creating opportunities for nudity like going swimming, popping in the locker rooms or hotel rooms.
- Using stimulation and curiosity to make sexual advances
Now that the abuse is ongoing, the predator will use secrecy to retain the athlete's silence and participation. The athlete is in a state of dilemma, wondering how he got to this position, yet not sure of how he can disengage. The athlete:
- Feels responsible
- Thinks no one will believe him
- Thinks of suicide or going to jail for this behavior
- Fears that he'll be suspended from the team
- Fear of ending the relationship due to the material and emotional needs he gets
- Dreads the humiliation he might suffer by exposing the relationship and the subsequent isolation from others
The secrets and lies fostered create a false bond between the two.
Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children in Youth Sports
Several things could indicate that your child is no longer the same.
- Extreme apprehension about attending practices or tournaments, or a sudden desire to leave the sport
- Symptoms of sadness, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Changed personal hygiene.
- Academic or athletic performance changes
- Sexual knowledge that is unsuitable for one's age
- When it comes to physical contact, he tends to overreact.
- Bleeding, bruises, or other bodily harm
- Underwear that is bloody ripped or stained
- Itchiness or burning, as well as other forms of pain and discomfort
- Infections of the urinary tract or yeast infections, as well as sexually transmitted infections
Defending Children from Boundary Invasion
The steps below can help prevent inappropriate border invasions:
- Educating administrators, volunteers and employees, and on the definitions of sexual grooming, unacceptable boundary incursions, and sexual abuse/molestation, as well as the behaviors that go along with them.
- Prohibiting irregular boundary invasions expressly.
- Making it mandatory that all workers and volunteers should report any unacceptable boundary invasions to management.
- Punishing and disciplining offenders and every other person who does not report such incidents.
Preventing Child Predators from Participating in Youth Sports
Below is a compilation of things you can do as a parent to reduce the likelihood of your child being abused when playing in a youth sports team:
- Please inquire with the sports organization's leadership about the steps taken to conduct background checks and validate all coaches and volunteer certification before allowing them to work with children or train a team.
- If your kid is working with a personal trainer, ensure you join the sessions to observe all that is happening. You can also pop in randomly to check on their progress. Insist on holding all training in a public area with other people.
- Prepare your child in advance with basic safety skills so that they might recognize how to react in different scenarios.
- Make the value of not holding secrets clear to your youngster. This is a significant issue. If a trainer or volunteer asks your kid to conceal information, they may be grooming the child for subsequent sexual assault. Predators frequently begin with small secrets to assess whether the child would agree, then gradually and systematically progress to more serious activities that they wish to remain hidden.
- Teach your child that it's acceptable to reject a proposal or stop an uncomfortable advance towards them. You thus empower them to maintain their safety by giving them the right to speak up for themselves against an adult.
- Do not be alarmed if your youngster relates anything about the trainer or a volunteer that worries you; otherwise, the child may stop talking. In a non-threatening manner, ask the child for more details on the individual's circumstances. Inquire with your child whether other children are privately concerned about this individual. Investigate your issues and alert the leadership.
- Trust your intuition instinct if you notice or suspect something about the trainer or even a volunteer that doesn't seem well with you. Many people ignore their gut instincts only to discover afterward that they had a reason to be concerned. Talk to the instructor or the volunteer to gauge if you can figure out what's making your Spidey senses tingle.
Other steps that parents can take to prevent or protect their children from sexual abuse include:
Talking to Your Child About their Body
What appears to be a straightforward directive for parents is what most parents find the most difficult to implement. A child's comprehension of acceptable behavior will decrease when you ignore that dialogue. The inevitable discomfort of discussing human sexuality with children increases the chance of a negative or confused initial exposure (e.g., explicit images shared by other children, pornography) and exacerbates misconceptions about appropriate and thoughtful sexual activity.
Therefore, parents and children should have a detailed dialogue about their bodies, what constitutes proper and improper contact, and how to speak out if uncomfortable. Finally, it's critical to provide a safe environment for youngsters. It occurs when youngsters are taught to be more self-aware of their bodies.
Coaches may assist avoid these types of crimes by going through preventative education and knowing what it takes to give children more body autonomy. Teaching acceptable interactions varies by culture and place, but it is critical to begin teaching children about their bodies early.
Taking an Active Role in Your Children’s Programs and Continuing Your Education.
The growth of the #MeToo movement and the disclosure of scandals such as those at Michigan State University and the United States Swimming could make a parent hesitant to leave their children with other adults for extended periods. However, simply criticizing coaches and organizations isn't going to help the youngster or solve the problem.
Parents must know their child's coach and whether he understands the limitations of physical relationships with the age bracket he is in charge of, and whether all coaches participating are equally aware of appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
It is equally vital for parents to enlighten themselves on effective ways to protect their children and be open to community outreach programs. The situation is made worse by concealing the reality of sexual abuse from a youngster.
The 2017 Safe Sport Authorization Act mandated that Olympic regulatory agencies and amateur sports federations disclose sex-abuse claims to federal, state, or local child-welfare institutions or criminal enforcement recognized by the Justice Department immediately.
Be Cautious But Not Terrified.
Parents should consider issues of sexual assault in young athletes as a component of a bigger problem of sexual violence within society. While the possibility of a youngster being abused by a recreational trainer is terrible in theory, it is extremely unlikely in practice. When sports grow more intense, coaches spend much more time with the players, and children are afraid of losing their reputation or game time if they report misconduct, the danger increases.
Sexual abuse is more likely to be perpetrated by someone a survivor knows and trusts rather than a stranger. Long-term sex assault in sports is highly typical in cases like that of Olympic judo champ Kayla Harrison, who suffered assault from her coach for several years as a teenager.
Instead of fretting that a rogue adult may assault their child, parents should examine the repetitive concept of sexual violence — powerful organizations that hide perpetrators and cultures that discourage whistleblowers. Having healthy dialogues with youngsters regarding their bodies, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for the parents, is critical in helping them know proper sexual relations and protecting them from peers and superiors.
Sports Are Enjoyable Social Gatherings.
Sports provide a healthy social setting where children and teens may learn about complex issues like sexual violence.
Athletics' social element, whether as an individual or in a team setting, aids in the formation of positive ties between youths. As a result, a victim is more likely to acquire the confidence of a friend and feel more comfortable discussing an incident.
When sending a child out to participate in sports, you ought not to be concerned that they will be in danger. Educating children, and yourself, on reality and best practices is the most effective protection you can provide as a parent.
All parents desire that their children have a good time during their childhood days and hence, they support them whenever their sports team competes. This could be a lot of fun and a great way for parents and children to bond. However, parents must prioritize their children's safety and not presume that all organizations have conducted thorough background checks on their volunteers and coaches. Always extensively investigate an organization's references before letting your kid enroll!
When the Sex Predator is a Spectator or Parent
Many national organizations expect coaches to undergo background checks, including national registry screenings and sexual predator database checks at a minimum. Even though it is not mandated by law, some organizations recommend these screenings throughout their risk management composites.
When the sex predator is a spectator or parent, what becomes the best way of handling the situation?
You should talk to a sex crime attorney in your locality as the governing laws vary with the state. You need to ensure that the organization is keen on following its set bylaws and policies. It is easier for organizations to set requirements that necessitate the screening of volunteers than parents.
Generally, this makes sense since the volunteer is more likely to interact with the children more frequently than parents, hence a high likelihood for them to lure kids to the point of molestation.
Regardless of the need for screening, educating teams, parents, and volunteers on improper boundary invasions is more critical and helpful.
Reasons Why Organizations Cover Up Incidents of Sexual Abuse in Youth Sports
These incidents are often hidden because the offenders or those who enable the predators have a significant source of wealth or clout. Their high worth to the company translates to avarice, which, unfortunately, takes precedence over any moral commitment to the afflicted.
They routinely change jobs within the company, or their focus is dimmed to decrease the chance of being discovered. Silence then breeds into the organization's culture. Victims stop speaking because no one believes them. Witnesses fear repercussions, like losing their employment, if they speak up, so they remain indifferent.
Complaints concerning Larry Nassar, the Olympic gymnastics doctor, went unheard for years. Way before the news emerged in 2011, Joe Paterno, with others at Pennsylvania State University, were privy of Jerry Sandusky's alleged behavior. Football and iconic coach Joe Paterno, who had been with the team for 45 years, ruled supreme: the football program brought in a cumulative revenue of $70.2 million in 2010.
When Silence Is Not the Best Option
It's mostly about keeping the money and the brand alive, not so much about the afflicted. Ironically, these organizations hurt the individuals who are supposed to help the company develop. Sports organizations need athletes; churches require parishioners and Hollywood actresses. So there you have it.
Ultimately, it all boils down to an organization's strong word versus the victim's monotone voice. Who will trust a kid accusing their coach of anything or a superstar accusing a director of something? This results from the offender's grooming process and an organization's rule of silence.
Who Gets Charged and How Long It Takes for a Lawsuit to Be Filed
It's worth noting that sexual assault and molestation lawsuits can be filed decades following the incidences. This is because this kind of conduct has no statute of limitations.
For failing to screen, respond to a complaint, or establish policies and processes to prevent occurrences, the claimed abuser, the legal representative, and their corresponding officers and directors will all be sued. In the case of future lawsuits, firms need to have all General Liability coverage on hand perpetually. Furthermore, the law will call the previous government to account for their loss of control based on current standards rather than previous ones, significantly laxer.
Due to the delayed nature of sexual assault and molestation litigation, a claims-made policy under a General Liability coverage is inferior to an incident policy type.
With the ratification of the 2018 Safe Sport Authorization Act and the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse, sports groups can now be held legally responsible for their personnel's sexual misconduct. This federal legislation mandates that anyone employed in amateur sports clubs report sexual abuse complaints to enforcement agencies or service organizations 24 hours or face criminal prosecution.
Victims of sexual abuse are also entitled to a minimum of $150,000 in statutory damages under the Safe Sport Act. The law prolongs the statute of limitations for launching a lawsuit, acknowledging that many young sexual assault victims do not recognize they have been assaulted until they hit adulthood.
Contact a Sex Crime Attorney Near Me
Sexual abuse cases are delicate and highly confidential. At Sex Crime Attorney in Los Angeles, we understand all these and are dedicated to ensuring that victims of sexual assault get the justice they need. If you, your child, or any person you know are in this situation, do not hesitate to contact us at 424-835-9799 for consultation. We will work with you to file lawsuits against the youth sports group or the abuser.