Here are SportsSignup we are deeply committed to making youth sports leagues one of the safest and healthiest environments a child could ever find themselves in. While we would like to believe that sports parents, coaches, and administrators would never allow predators to volunteer we also understand the reality of the world we live in. Most child abusers are not strangers; they are people we know and trust, and oftentimes they hold a position of power over their victims that they use to their advantage. And although we may never want to think that a child abuser could be part of our community, the safety and well-being of our children should be our number one concern.
We developed KidsSafePlus as part of our online registration services because we believe that coach and volunteer background checks are an excellent first line of defense at keeping predators away from our kids. But we also understand that a background check is just one of the many things parents, coaches, and administrators need to do; we also need to educate ourselves about the signs of child abuse so we can put a stop to it immediately.
According to Michelle Peterson, a national expert on child abuse;
Depending on the type of abuse there are many behaviors that victims of abuse my exhibit:
Physical Abuse; unexplained injuries, depression, behavior problems, fear of a parent or another adult
Sexual abuse: sexually acting out, increased sexual knowledge or behavior, drug and alcohol abuse, poor grades, eating and sleeping disorders, refusing to change or undress in front of others.
If you want to learn about most signs of abuse please visit https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/sexabuse/sexabusec.cfm
Many abusers threaten their victims in order to keep them under control. That’s why it’s so important that we as the adults pay attention for the signs that something is amiss. They might be too afraid to ask for help but that doesn’t mean something terrible isn’t going behind closed doors. It’s equally important that should a child ever come to you and confess that they are being abused you believe them. According to Michelle “False allegations are rare. They can happen but kids don’t tend to lie about abuse, especially sexual abuse.” Some predators tell their victims that no one will take the word of a child over an adult, especially someone respected like a coach, and if they come to you and you don’t do anything about it you have proved the predator right.
Some abused children may not even fully understand what is going on. That’s why it’s so important that we as parents teach our children (as uncomfortable as it may make us) about what kind of sexual behavior is and is not appropriate. You might not have to explain the biological workings of how a baby is made just yet, but you do need to explain the differences between a “good touch” (like a high-five) and a “bad touch” (if someone tried to touch them between their legs).
At the end of the day, if you suspect something inappropriate is going on you MUST report it. As Michelle said sports parents need to;
Report it. Period. They are not to think about it…or discuss it with others, investigate it or sleep one it…they are simply asked to report it.