KEEPING OUR CHILDREN SAFE
Every parent's worst nightmare is the day they hear their child was/is being sexually abused. As a parent we take a tacit oath to keep our kids safe from harm. A significant threat to our children's safety is the danger posed by pedophiles in positions of authority over the children like youth sport coaches, clergy, teachers, scout leaders and the list goes on and on. There is nothing worse than a child whose life has been permanently damaged by being the victim of sexual abuse.
Despite sexual abusers coming in many forms, many abusers will be the person you least suspect. As parents there are steps you can take to keep your child as safe as possible and help ensure your child does not become the victim of child sexual abuse.
The settings in which sexual abuse occurs typically have many common elements for both boys and girls. Sexual abuse of minors in the youth sports setting happens mainly in places where sports activities are held, in the home of the abuser, during training/practice sessions, at social gatherings not connected to sport or during competitions away from home.
There are some common behaviors that are associated with many cases of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse of children in youth sports is perpetrated mostly by men, and more specifically, by coaches. Coaches who commit sexual abuse are masters at manipulation and often have a reputable status in their sport or their sports organization. They have a good reputation in the community and have won the trust of parents and their young athletes. Many coaches in these sports will develop an almost unbreakable level of trust with the parents of their victims. After gaining the trust of the parents, these coaches then put themselves in a position to be alone and unsupervised with your child.
The following are a list of tips designed to assist parents with identifying and keeping your child safe from these sexual predators:
- Talk to your children about the concept of "Good touch/ Bad touch."
- Listen carefully to your child when they talk to you about situations that made them feel uncomfortable or scared.
- Do background checks on any individual before you allow them to be in a position of authority with your child. If the individual is associated with an organization, ask the organization if they have ever received any complaints against the individual.
- If your child is participating in an activity with an organization, make sure you know how the organization handles allegations of sexual abuse against one of its employees or volunteers. Make sure the policy protects the child and not the abuser.