On Wednesday April 25, 2018, I attended a symposium on Athletes and Abuse at the University of Pennsylvania. It closely looked at athletes and abuse, across the spectrum of sports and ages. Throughout the day, I listened to four panels speak about their experiences and the abuse that is currently running rampant in sports — ALL sports. Youth sports, high school and college athletics; abuse and neglect among elite or Olympic-level athletes; and professional sports as well.
"Leading experts, athletes, officials, and policymakers spoke about the needs to change in sports culture that puts children at risk." Did everybody hear what I just said....?!
THAT PUTS CHILDREN AT RISK!
I found it odd that this event was not covered in the news. There were news reporters there but it wasn't aired. It seems that when it comes to abuse, most want to turn their heads. I get it. It's uncomfortable, especially sexual abuse. Most of you/us, have been abused in some way: emotionally, verbally, sexually, or physically, as children. I am not asking you to feel your possible pain again. I am simply just asking you to be aware of your children, differently than you might have normally have been taught.
Take notice of where your children are isolated and where they could be manipulated by predatory adults. These adults are not always who you think they are. I typically can feel and easily pick them out in a crowd, but I was abused as an athlete and in my family, so I know. Some of you may not have that skill. So just follow these guidelines:
- Never leave your child alone with an adult or older teen. (I know, I know, the phrase used to be- never leave your child alone without an adult. Well, that is not acceptable anymore.)
- Youth and middle-school aged Travel Teams: Attend away trips with your children.
- Olympic athletes: Don't give your children away to coaches for the gold medal.
- Youth organizations, Sports camps, Religious groups, Boy/Girl Scouts, and Overnight Retreats with Spiritual/Scout leaders: Please go with your children. Young athletes, altar boys, Boy/Girl Scouts, and all children should be educated. (If you and/or your staff need to be educated, go to Teamwork Wins Trainings Tab)
The statistics are astronomical, when it comes to the number of children who have been abused and who are being abuse RIGHT now. If you are that adult that wants to turn your head because it's uncomfortable or you simply don't want to feel your own abuse, I understand, but just hear me out..
Our children are screaming out to us to take notice. and want us to turn our heads and guide them.
1. Education, education, education for our children.
2. Parents need tools and awareness skills.
3. Predatory adults need to be stopped. They need help too. Most of them have been abused themselves.
Teamwork Wins does not have ALL of the answers but we have many. We specialize in Invisible Challenges™. Take one of our trainings and then spread the word because our children are WORTH it! Also, check out Searching For Oz Workbook for those of you who are brave enough to look at your pain of abuse/trauma and want to end it once and for all.
The Symposium speakers included the amazing keynote speaker Dominique Moceanu, Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast, and panelists Doug Glanville, Penn alumnus, a former MLB outfielder for the Phillies, Cubs and Rangers, Chris Newlin from National Children's Advocacy Center, Nancy Hogshead Makar, 3-time Olympic Gold Medal Swimmer, and Shellie Pfohl, CEO, U.S. Center for Safesport.
I was very touched by all of the panelists, especially Richard J. Gelles, Ph.D.; Marci A. Hamilton, Esq.; Susan B. Sorenson, Ph.D. and their determination to make a difference in this world.
Below were some of the things that were mentioned at the symposium:
"The pattern of coaches with power over aspiring athletes repeats itself at every level: the youth, high school, college, Olympic and professional. Like other arenas where children can be isolated and manipulated by predatory adults, the sports arena presents steep challenges to the protection of children. Sports, at all levels, are the latest frontier in the war against child sex abuse and is the least studied. With 45 million children involved in organized sports, this frontier needs attention."
Written By Adele Saccarelli-Cavallaro, Founder & CEO of Teamwork Wins, an 18 year old non-profit organization - A Foundation for Awareness and Change. 215.680.2351 www.teamworkwins.org