Clear polices must be set and enforced by organizations to prevent athlete sexual abuse. Parents should be on the alert to ensure that sports organizations are using and enforcing policies that prohibit any one-on-one time between coach and athlete. Any special therapy, training or individual practice should be done only with another adult present.
Parents should look at clubs that provide training to educate athletes and parents about coach-athlete relationship policies. Children need to know and understand what is appropriate behavior by an adult and what do to if someone crosses the line. The club should have a clear procedure for reporting and investigating any complaints.
Lastly, policies for hiring new coaches must include not only background checks but reference checks as well, and a training program to ensure that coaches understand what is inappropriate behavior.
Robert Shoop, a Kansas State University professor and expert on the issue of sexual abuse by teachers and coaches, recommends the following guidelines.
- Conduct open practices.
- Always have another supervising adult — an assistant coach or another parent — at all practices and meetings.
- Never transport players to or from games or practices.
- Involve parents in selecting uniforms and allow them to make the final decision, especially when coaching players of the opposite sex.
- Avoid personal communication with athletes.
- Don’t buy gifts for your athletes.
- Avoid excessive praise and physical contact with athletes that could be misconstrued, such as a hug, pat on the back or massage.
- Be on the alert if a child shows particular fondness for you.
If your child has been abused or molested by their coach please contact attorney Jonathan Little. Mr. Little can begin an immediate investigation upon being retained. As a former state prosecutor Mr. Little can also help you work with law enforcement to put away the predator coach.