Cheer Teams And Youth Sports
Sports play an essential role in the development of youth. Participation in youth sports helps children improve the physical, social, emotional and academic aspects of their lives. Many of us also have fond memories of childhood organized sports including little league baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, cheer and dance.
Unfortunately, youth sports also provide predators with easy access to children in an environment where abuse could go undetected. Young athletes may spend considerable amounts of alone time with coaches, teammates and team volunteers on the playing field, traveling to tournaments or taking part in camps. Often with little to no parental supervision. Coaches, volunteers and team administrators are often looked up to, idolized and even revered. Children are taught and expected to obey coaches and team leaders without question. These coaches often preach “teamwork” and “protect the team at all costs.” This coaching style often makes children afraid to report sexual abuse by their coaches and team volunteers for fear of the stigma and repercussions from teammates.
Cheer Teams Across The Country Are Facing Increased Scrutiny
In the wake of several high-profile sexual abuse scandals in youth and collegiate sports in recent times, it has become more important than ever for parents to be vigilant over their children’s cheer teams. A recent report found that nearly 140 individuals charged or convicted of sexual misconduct with minors were working with the U.S. All Star Federation (USASF), the governing body that oversees much of the U.S. competitive cheer events.
While USASF has taken some action, there is still an institutional problem where issues remain unaddressed until they make the news, and potential abuse is allegedly ignored or covered up. Many high-profile cases involving cast members from the Netflix series Cheer have involved serious allegations of abuse that highlight the extent to which these issues reach.
Steps To Take For Your Children
There are some common sense guidelines parents can follow to reduce the risk of sexual misconduct by a coach, trainer or team doctor:
- Never leave your child alone with a coach, trainer or team physician.
- Conduct your own background search.
- Do not give up your authority as a child’s parent. You make all the final decisions.
- Do not allow the coach, trainer or physician to ridicule or shame your child.
- If a coach, trainer or physician is physically inappropriate, report it immediately to the proper authorities.
- No coach, trainer or team physician should send your child a text, email or direct electronic message unless it is part of a group chat.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you or your loved one was sexually assaulted by a coach, team leader, administrator or another team member, we are here to listen to your story and fight for the justice you deserve. We understand you may have questions about your case. In the meantime, please see some answers to frequently asked questions below.
What Sport Has The Most Sexual Assault Cases?
While sexual assault occurs in all youth sports, some sports have a higher occurrence of abuse, including soccer, gymnastics and swimming. Hockey, being one of the most widely played sports, also has a large number of sexual misconduct claims.
Why Does Sexual Or Other Abuse Of Athletes Often Go Unreported?
Abuse or sexual assault of athletes often goes unreported, even with how prevalent these instances are. Coaches, teammates or superiors often turn a blind eye to the abuse to protect the organization or their colleagues. Fear of retaliation, loss of scholarship or fear that the team or coaches will blame the athlete for the abuse are common reasons that abuse goes unreported.
How Common Is Sexual Abuse In Team Sports?
Team sports provides a wonderful opportunity for children to make friends and learn valuable skills. However, a team sport environment also can be the perfect breeding ground for sexual abuse. According to data collected by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, sexual abuse in youth supports impacts an estimated two to eight percent of athletes.
If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a youth coach, team leader, team administrator or sports team member, contact our law firm at 954-641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz.