Youth sports provide children with great opportunities to gain insight into teamwork, social skills, and athletics while being part of a larger community. Children who participate in sports should always feel safe and secure in their leagues. Unfortunately, it's sad that coaches and other individuals in youth sports leagues routinely sexually abuse athletes. Coaches, more experienced players, as well as other team officials misuse their positions of trust to sexually abuse young players they're supposed to guide and protect.
If you or your child has suffered sexual abuse while participating in youth sports, our lawyers at the Sex Crime Attorney can help. We offer legal services throughout California.
Sexual Abuse Among Young Athletes
All sports are subject to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. This problem is not exclusive to a single sport or only affects men or women. Athletes can be subjected to some sort of abuse, ranging from trivial forms of harassment to extreme forms of abuse, resulting in catastrophic psychological and physical implications. It is important to understand that children can experience sexual, emotional, or physical abuse, irrespective of their socioeconomic status, race, nationality, or religion.
How the Sexual Abuse Occurs in Youth Sports
There are two different categories of young sexual predators: grabbers and groomers. The most prevalent kind of sexual abuse is grooming, and it often goes unnoticed since it appears harmless. The most effective way to shield children against sexual grooming would be guarding them against improper boundary intrusions.
Sexual predators typically use the following steps:
Targeting their Victim
It involves finding a child who:
- Is an emotionally needy female or male who lacks self-confidence.
- Is from a broken household or a family where the parents are uninvolved.
- Parental views on sex and measures of prevention.
- Is a top-tier athlete committed to their craft and willing to give everything they have to win.
- Is deeply committed to their coach.
- Has a limited understanding of sex and sexual assault.
- Is dedicated and passionate about the sport.
- He or she is from a disapproving family.
- Originates from a household that thinks highly of the coach and has a close relationship with them..
The sexual predator will learn as much as possible about his intended victim. Among these are:
- Find out information about the player, their family, and the organization. As a result, they gain people's trust.
- Driving the kids to and from practice and providing them with resources, such as sports equipment and money. They portray themselves as the children.
- They are like the child's biggest cheerleader, constantly praising their efforts.
- Their teammates and family both depend on them.
Isolating the victim
Once trust has been established, the sexual predator will take advantage of the newfound ties to other people to further isolate them. No one grows suspicious since they all agree to this relationship and see it as a harmless friendship. Some of the things you might notice are:
- Driving with the youngster alone.
- Sharing hotel accommodations when traveling for sporting events.
- Babysitting or offering to give tuition.
- The predator asserts that they have a special bond and that they value the athlete more than anyone else, including their parents.
- Getting together for movie evenings, gaming, as well as other recreational activities.
When the Sexual Abuse and Secrecy Begins
After the predator has the victim's emotional reliance trust, he or she will begin to sexually objectify the relationship by engaging in the following actions:
- Sharing pornographic material, images, videos, or sexting.
- Making sexual advances employing arousal and curiosity.
- Creating settings in which nudity can occur, such as going for a swim or popping into hotel rooms or locker rooms.
Since the sexual abuse is happening, the offender will likely employ secrecy to keep the athlete quiet and complicit. The athlete could start feeling stuck, wondering how they got themselves into this predicament and feeling uncertain about how to leave. The victim:
- Believes that nobody will believe them.
- Feels accountable.
- Fear of being kicked off the team.
- Considers suicide or thinks they will get arrested for this conduct.
- Fear of breaking up with the predator because they are already emotionally and materially dependent on them.
- Fears the humiliation of coming clean about their relationship and being shunned by their peers.
The two develop an illusory bond as a result of the lies and secrets
How Sexual Abuse Manifests in Young Athletes
There are several warning signals or red flags that can point to young athletes' sexual abuse. These include:
- Missing out on practice or training.
- Apprehension over being all alone with specific members of the team or staff.
- Loss of motivation for training.
- Losing interest in a once-loved sport.
- Performing poorly in that particular sport.
Other warning signs of child sexual abuse are:
- Physical manifestations of sexual trauma around their private parts.
- Acquiring sexually transmitted infections or diseases.
- The athlete's clothes, underwear, or sheets have bloodstains on them.
- Mysterious bleeding or bruises.
Other red flags to watch out for include:
- The child's sudden decision to keep secrets when they were previously open.
- Issues with Self-Esteem.
- Changes in eating habits.
- Change in sleeping habits.
- Self-harming habits.
- Low confidence.
- Isolation from other.
- Extreme familiarity with or conversation around sexual matters or subjects.
- Regressive habits, such as bedwetting.
- Not being as talkative as they usually are.
It's important for parents of young athletes to keep an eye out for these and other warning signs of sexual abuse so they can get help for their children early. The earlier these warning signs are identified, the easier it is to have a conversation with the youngster and the organization they're involved in to prevent the behavior from worsening and causing serious harm. While you're trying to watch for these signs, make sure to watch out for any sudden changes in behavior.
Preventing the Involvement of Child Sexual Predators in Youth Sports
The following list of parental actions can help you lessen the chance that your child will suffer abuse while participating in youth sports:
Look into the measures taken by the sports organization's management to examine the credentials of all trainers and volunteers before permitting them to engage with youngsters or coach the teams.
If your child works with a private coach, be sure to attend the practices so you can observe everything that goes on. Also, you can stop by at any time to see how they're doing. Insist that all training sessions be held in a public space where other people are present.
Give your child a head start on learning the fundamentals of safety such that they'll be aware of how to respond in various situations.
Explain to your child why it's important to be open and honest. A major problem exists here. Your child could be getting groomed for future sexual abuse if a volunteer or trainer encourages them to lie about something or asks them to keep information to themselves.
Predators tend to start with little secrets to see if the child will consent, then advance gradually and methodically to more severe actions that they want to keep hidden.
Educate your youngster that it's okay to say no to someone's offer or to stop someone who is making them feel uncomfortable. This gives children the confidence to stand up and defend themselves in a potentially dangerous situation with an adult.
If your child brings up anything that makes you concerned about the coach or another member of the team, don't panic; otherwise, they could stop talking. Ask your child for further information about the person's situation without being intimidating.
Ask your kid whether they've heard anything about other kids being worried about this person. Look into your concerns, then inform the top management.
If you get the impression that the coach or volunteer is acting oddly, or when you have any other suspicions, you should trust your instincts and act accordingly. It's common for people to disregard their intuition, only to later learn they were justified in their concerns.
Have a conversation with the volunteer or coach to see if any of them can help you understand what has been causing your worries.
Parents can also take the following actions to stop or shield their kids from sexual abuse:
Have a Conversation With Your Child About Their Body
Many parents find it most challenging to put into practice what seems to be a simple guideline for parents. Ignoring that conversation will lead to a reduction in the child's understanding of proper conduct.
The awkwardness of talking about sexuality with kids just makes their first encounter with the subject more likely to be an unpleasant or confusing one (for example, things like pornography or explicit photos distributed by other kids) and worsens the misunderstanding about what proper sexual interactions involve. As a result, parents and kids should have a thorough conversation about their sexuality, what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate contact, and the best ways to express their concerns.
Finally, it's imperative to give children a secure environment. That happens when kids are educated to become more in tune with their surroundings.
Coaches who have received preventative training and who are familiar with the steps necessary to help kids gain control over their bodies could help reduce the prevalence of such incidents. Every culture and region has different ways of teaching proper behavior, but it's crucial to start teaching kids about these topics at a young age.
Actively Participating in Your Child's Programs and Pursuing Your Education
The rise of the #Metoo campaign, as well as the public disclosure of incidents like the ones at USA Swimming and Michigan State University, can make parents reluctant to let their kids hang out with other adults for long periods. However, criticizing institutions and coaches in isolation won't benefit the child or find a solution to the issue.
Parents need to be aware of their loved one's coach, whether he or she knows the boundaries on physical contact with the age group he or she oversees, and whether all instructors involved are equally cognizant of what constitutes proper and unacceptable behavior.
It's equally important for parents to educate themselves about the most effective measures for safeguarding their minors and to be receptive to community outreach initiatives. The situation gets worse by hiding the truth of sexual abuse and assault from a child.
The Safe Sport Authorization Act enacted in 2017 mandates the Olympic regulatory bodies and other amateur sports federations to promptly report sex abuse allegations to state, local, or federal child welfare organizations or law enforcement authorities acknowledged by the Justice Department.
Be Wary, But Not Afraid
Parents need to consider sexual assault and abuse in young athletes as part of a serious issue related to sexual violence in the community. Although it sounds dreadful in theory, it's improbable that a recreational coach would sexually abuse a child in reality. When sports get more competitive, coaches spend most of their time with the participants, and minors are scared about compromising their reputation or playtime if they disclose any wrongdoing, the threat increases.
A sexual abuse perpetrator is more likely to be someone the victim knows and has confidence in than a stranger. Long-term sex abuse in sports is common. Instead of worrying about a rogue individual assaulting their loved one, parents should investigate the recurring notion of sexual abuse — powerful institutions that conceal abusers as well as cultures that penalize whistleblowers.
No matter how unpleasant it can seem to parents, having open conversations with children about their bodies is essential to educating them about appropriate sexual behavior and shielding them from superiors and peers.
Sports are Fun Social Gatherings
Games and sports offer a positive social environment where young people and adolescents can learn about difficult subjects like sexual abuse. The social element of athletics, whether practiced individually or in a team-based environment, promotes the development of strong relationships between young people. As a result, victims are more likely to win a friend's trust and feel more at ease talking about an incident.
You shouldn't worry that a youngster will be at risk when you send them to engage in sports. The best defense you can give as a parent is to educate yourself, your child, and everyone else on the reality and ideal practices.
Every parent wants their child to enjoy their childhood, which is why they cheer them on whenever their team plays. Children and their parents could have a great time doing this together, which would be wonderful. However, a parent should put his or her child's safety first and not assume that every organization has thoroughly scrutinized the coaches and volunteers on staff. Before allowing your child to enroll, always conduct a thorough background check of an institution.
When the Sexual Offender is a Parent or Spectator
Many organizations demand that coaches submit to background checks, which should at the very least include inspections of the national register and sexual predator databases. Although these checks are not legally required, some organizations include recommendations for them in their risk management plans.
What is the Best Course of Action When the Sex Offender is a Parent or Spectator?
Given that the applicable laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, you should consult a sex crimes lawyer in your state. You should verify that the institution is committed to adhering to its set rules and policies. Organizations can implement standards that require volunteer screening more easily than parents.
In general, this makes sense because the volunteers are more likely to spend time with the children than the parents, making it much more likely that they will seduce minors into engaging in sexual activity. Even though screening is necessary, it's also important and beneficial to educate players, volunteers, and parents about improper boundary intrusions.
Reasons Why a Youth Sports Organization Conceals Reports of Sexual Abuse
Youth athletes do not mention sexual abuse incidents because they're scared that no action would be taken, they believe it's their mistake, they're traumatized, or they are terrified of revenge by the offender. But, the youth sports organizations have no legitimate reason to conceal these incidents. Unfortunately, many sports organizations and league officials are aware of these predators who have been flagged up but do nothing to stop them.
Many organizations use cover-ups since they're afraid of damaging their reputation. In cases where instructors are the offenders, most institutions are hesitant to bring them to justice due to their influence or financial contributions to the organization. Sadly, some sports organizations prioritize the significance of the perpetrator over the safety and well-being of young sportspersons by failing to disclose sexual assault.
Safe Sports Act
The Safe Sports Act of 2017—also known as the Preventing Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act—designates the US Center of Safesport as an independent, national safe sports organization. The center investigates and reacts to all reported complaints of molestation or sexual assault in the USA Paralympic and Olympic Movements. The provision established a reporting obligation to authorities to avoid sexual abuse and assault among young athletes and children.
Who Gets Arrested and How Long Does It Take to File a Case?
It's important to note that lawsuits for sexual assault and child molestation could be pursued decades after the incident. The reason is there's no set statute of limitations on this type of conduct.
The alleged abuser, the legal representation, and their respective officers and directors could all be sued for failure to screen, act to a report, or develop policies and protocols to prevent such incidents. Organizations should always be prepared with all general liability coverage in case of pending claims. Additionally, the law will hold the previous administration accountable for its loss of control following current norms rather than the much laxer ones from the past.
Since molestation and sexual assault litigation is time-consuming, a claims-made plan under General Liability insurance coverage is preferable to an incident insurance policy type.
After the approval of the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act and the 2018 Safe Sport Authorization Act, sports organizations are now legally liable for the sexual misconduct of their employees. According to this federal law, anyone working for a youth sports group should immediately report any allegations of sexual assault to law enforcement or other service providers to avoid being charged with a crime.
Under the Safe Sport Act, victims of sexual assault are also able to recover statutory damages of at least $150,000. The law extends the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in recognition of the fact that many young victims of sexual assault don't become aware of their abuse until they reach adulthood.
How Can AB 218 Assist Victims?
Beginning on January 1, 2020, Californians who have experienced child sexual abuse now have more options for pursuing retribution against those who have harmed them. Assembly Bill 218 enables survivors of child sexual abuse to pursue civil cases against the abusers as well as anyone who concealed the abuse report up until they reach the age of 40 years or a maximum of 5 years after they become aware of the adult psychological damage caused by the incident.
AB 218 further broadens the scope of the remedies available to those affected by child sexual abuse by enabling them to seek "treble damages" against any institution that concealed the abuse. Anyone who had previously been blocked from doing so by time restrictions now has 3 years for doing so.
Why You Need the Assistance of an Attorney
Anyone who has experienced child sexual abuse must seek legal counsel from a lawyer with extensive experience with these kinds of situations. A professional lawyer will be equipped with the tools and legal knowledge required to thoroughly research every facet of your claim. This would entail gathering all the information required to establish that sexual abuse occurred as well as investigating any instances in which the youth sports group tried to cover up the abuse.
A lawyer will also strive to see that those sexually abused get the counseling they require to process the incident adequately. Above all, a sexual abuse lawyer will zealously negotiate with all involved parties to make sure the victim gets the compensation they're entitled to.
Find a Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer Near Me
If your child has been a victim of youth sports sexual abuse, you need to first acknowledge that it's not your fault. Additionally, you ought to get medical attention and notify the organization or law enforcers about the situation. After that, you should seek advice and have your case evaluated by a sexual abuse lawyer. We at Sex Crimes Attorney are here to assist you in claiming compensation from the relevant sports association to which you are legally entitled. To learn more about your California civil rights and the next steps, contact us at 888-666-8480 today.