BOISE, Idaho - Simone Biles and other U.S. gymnasts are confronting sexual abuse in their sport, including at a Senate Judiciary Committee this month. Now, with school sports back in session, sexual-abuse prevention advocates want people to think about prevention methods closer to home.
Roger Sherman is the executive director of the Idaho Children's Trust Fund, a state affiliate of Prevent Child Abuse America. He says abuse prevention is not so much about finding predators as it is about minimizing the opportunities abusers might have.
"The important thing for us to recognize is that this is fully preventable," said Sherman. "But we have to put systems in place to make sure that if there are predators, they are not able to take advantage of children - of our children."
Some protections are in place for young athletes, including the Safe Sport Authorization Act, which was passed in 2017 in response to the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal surrounding team doctor Larry Nassar.
But Sherman noted that parents can go further. He said they should ask teams and schools how they are addressing abuse prevention, noting that his and other organizations in the state provide education and training.
"The kind of training that we think is important for preventing child sexual abuse is training first around learning the facts," said Sherman. "Second is around minimizing the opportunity. Third is being willing to talk about it."
Sherman said abuse can be debilitating, leaving lasting scars for those who are abused.
"You can heal, and that's important to know," said Sherman. "But it's better if it never happens, and that's really what our job as adults is. That's what our job as parents is. You know, our job is to ask the right questions and to make sure that the adults responsible for our kids are doing the right thing."
Source: Northern Rockies News Service