Facts about sexual abuse in youth sports in Florida

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2024 | Cheer & Youth Athletic Organizations

Many young athletes play some form of organized sport in Florida. Colleges often employ highly vetted individuals to train and coach these athletes. While most coaches are great leaders dedicated to training young athletes in their sport of choice, there have been several cases of reported and unreported sexual abuse within youth sports throughout the country.

Reasons why most athlete sexual abuse cases go unreported

A vast majority of sexual abuse by youth athletic coaches goes unreported because, for one, unlike academic teachers, coaches have a much closer proximity to students. The sports training process often requires physical contact, and an abuser can use this as an opportunity to manipulate young athletes into keeping quiet about the abuse.

Additionally, some students may be afraid of retaliation from their coaches or other authority figures within the sport. They probably see college sports as a stepping stone toward their much-desired dream of being a professional athlete, and they may not want to jeopardize that opportunity by reporting an abuser.

How to report sexual abuse by a coach

First, you need proof. If there are texts, emails or any form of communication that you can use to show that the coach in question has been making sexual advances towards you, keep them. Also, if you can get a witness, that would help strengthen your case.

Next, approach a trusted adult such as a parent or teacher. Tell them about the situation and ask for their assistance in reporting the incident. Once they do, the school will begin an investigation process.

If the abuse happens outside of school, such as during practice or on a sports trip, you can report it to local authorities, too. Florida has a mandatory reporting law, which means that you can report any suspicion of sexual abuse to the Florida Department of Children and Families or law enforcement immediately.

You shouldn’t stay silent about something as egregious as sexual abuse. If you feel uncomfortable or violated in any way, it’s important to speak up and report the incident. Remember to trust your instincts and not let anyone intimidate or manipulate you into staying quiet.