Athlete sexual abuse is a real issue. But false
accusations can happen, so coaches and program leaders need
to take precautions. Robert Shoop, a Kansas State
University professor and expert on the issue of sexual
abuse by teachers and coaches, recommends the following
- Conduct open practices.
- Always have another supervising adult — an
assistant coach or another parent — at all
practices and meetings.
- Never transport players to or from games or
- Involve parents in selecting uniforms and allow
them to make the final decision, especially when
coaching players of the opposite sex.
- Avoid personal communication with athletes.
- Don’t buy gifts for your athletes.
- Avoid excessive praise and physical contact with
athletes that could be misconstrued, such as a hug, pat
on the back or massage.
- Be on the alert if a child shows particular
fondness for you.
Protect Your Organization
Organizations need to set clear polices to prevent
athlete sexual abuse. Experts suggest implementing these
- Prohibit any one-on-one time between
coach/program leader and athlete/participant. If a
personal meeting, special therapy, training or
individual practice is required, set a strict policy
that a parent and/or another coach must be
- Make it clear that any sexual relationship
between a coach or supervisor and an athlete will not
be tolerated. Include this zero-tolerance policy in all
training and handbooks.
- Educate athletes and parents about coach-athlete
relationship policies. Provide materials to help
parents talk to their children about what is
appropriate behavior by an adult and what do to if
someone crosses the line.
- Establish clear procedures for reporting and
investigating any complaints.
- Develop policies for monitoring and
evaluating new hires to be sure that they understand