Protecting Gymnasts From Predators – Part 3


Click here to read Part 1 or Part 2 of the series.

The final line of defense, to protect a gymnast from a predator, comes from the parent!

We all want to trust the adults in our child’s life.  But according to, 60% of children are abused by people the family trusts!

So how do you do it?

Darkness to Light has a great educational resource called “The 5 Steps to Protecting Our Children”;

Step 1: Learn The Facts: Realities, Not Trust, Should Influence Your Decisions Regarding Children  (Some of the statistics are startling!)

Step 2: Minimize Opportunity: If you eliminate or reduce isolated, one-on-one situations between children and adults, and children and other youth, you’ll dramatically reduce the risk of sexual abuse.

Step 3: Talk About It: Children often keep abuse a secret, but barriers can be broken down by talking openly about our bodies, sex, and boundaries.

Step 4: Recognize The Signs: Don’t expect obvious signs when a child is being sexually abused. Signs are often there, but you have to know what to look for.

Step 5: React Responsibly: DISCLOSURE of sexual abuse means a child has chosen you as the person he or she trusts enough to tell. It is the moment when children learn whether others can be trusted to stand up for them.

To download the “5 Steps Booklet”, click here.

What else can you do as a parent?

During a private lesson, make sure that your child is not alone in the gym with their coach.  If they are not going to be alone, can they be observed at all times by other staff?  If they are going to be alone, then do not leave your child alone with the coach.

If your child is going for some sort of therapy, do not allow your child to be alone in the room with this individual.  Insist that you or another adult be present at all times.

More importantly, educate your child!

According to the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW), “The best way to protect children and teens from being victims of sexual abuse is to help them understand and be aware of the issues of sexual abuse.  When you empower your children to say “no” to unwanted touch and teach them that they can come to you with questions and concerns, you take critical steps to preventing child sexual abuse.”

Teach them that they are never to go into a room alone with an adult with the door closed.  Inform them to always sit near the door and to ensure that the door remains open at all times.

Kids have excellent instincts!  Let your child know that the moment that they begin to feel uncomfortable in a situation, they should immediately remove themselves from that situation.  And to even go so far as to call a parent or guardian to come pick them up.

One of the most important things you can do as a parent, as an adult, is to report suspected cases of abuse.  The NSOPW states that only 30% of sexual assault cases ever get reported.  Not reporting allows these offenders to continue abusing children they come into contact with.

According to, “All 50 states require that professionals who work with children report reasonable suspicions of child abuse.  Some states require that anyone with suspicions report it.”  Two agencies to file a report of suspected child abuse are Child Protective Services and the Police.

For more information on how to file a report in your state, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website, check out the ChildHelp website, or call them at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453).

The old proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” never meant more than it does today!  Everyone needs to take charge and ensure the protection of our children no matter if they are in school, walking to a friend’s house, playing outside, or taking a gymnastics class.


Related Articles:

Protecting Gymnasts from Predators – Part 1

Protecting Gymnasts From Predators – Part 2

Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse

USA Gymnastics Receives Sexual Assault Lawsuit Filed Against Them


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