The recent abuse scandal engulfing USA Gymnastics put the spotlight on coaches at all levels of the athletics hierarchy, and begged the question: Who’s coaching your kids?”
According to the National Children’s Alliance, nearly 700,000 kids were abused and neglected in the U.S. in 2015, the latest year that data is available. And some of those cases involved youth coaches and mentors. But reports say that most youth sports leagues don’t require background checks for coaches and volunteers.
Advocacy group Educate Empower Kids offers some advice and signs to look for to help you protect your kids when they’re playing in a youth sports league:
- A predator might pay special attention to a child and make him or her feel special;
- A predator might isolate your child by involving him or her in fun activities that require them to be alone together;
- A predator might touch your child in your presence so that he or she thinks that you’re comfortable with the touching;
- A predator might present himself as a sympathetic listener when parents, friends, and others disappoint a child;
- A predator may offer to play games or buy treats for young children;
- A predator might take advantage of a child’s natural curiosity about sex by telling “dirty” jokes, showing him or her pornography or by playing sexual games.
Several youth coaches in the Houston area have been accused recently of abusing players. Monday night at 6pm, Channel 2 Investigates takes a closer look at what local youth leagues are doing to keep predators out and what you can do to protect your kids on and off the field.