Home » Health & Safety Channel » Treatment Reporting » Handling Child Sexual Abuse in Sports: Advice for Parents

Handling Child Sexual Abuse in Sports: Advice for Parents

Stay Calm, Provide Support Say Experts

If your child tells you that he or she is being harassed, abused or neglected experts say you should:
  • Take them somewhere where they can talk freely.
  • Listen and believe
  • Never ignore even seemingly trivial calls for help. 
  • Support your child
  • Discuss their options with them 
  • Help them to restore a sense of control in their lives by involving them in deciding how to deal with the problem
  • Reassure them continuously 
  • Speak on a level they can understand.

What you hear may shock you. No matter what you are told, stay calm and show that you are listening. It is extremely important that your child knows that harassment or abuse is not her fault, nor a reflection on them. Possible responses include, "I believe you." "This is not your fault. You are a victim." "I am going to help you."

Harassment, abuse and neglect can inflict deep psychological damage on young people. Arrange for counseling to help your child come to terms with what has happened. Other family members may need this support as well. 

Your response to eliminate the abuse or harassment should be determined by the nature of the behavior and the age of the victim. Options include talking to the coach, manager or club president. This can often clear up a simple problem quickly. If you feel that the situation cannot be resolved at this level, other avenues include:
  • Reporting the harassment, abuse or neglect to the club's board of directors
  • Reporting the harassment, abuse or neglect to the state organization. Many organizations have policies in place which outline how the complaint will be heard.
  • Reporting the harassment, abuse or neglect to the national sport organization. Most organizations have policies in place which outline how the complaint will be heard. 
  • Calling Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868. Trained counselors are available 24 hours a day to help children deal with painful situations.
  • Bringing a lawsuit. You may sue anyone who had an opportunity to do something about the abuse, and didn't. This could include the perpetrator, the employer, the national sport organization, the state sport organization, the club, and so on. 
  • For sexual abuse, calling a rape crisis center.
  • Calling Crimestoppers. This allows you to leave an anonymous tip with a police officer. 
  • Reporting the suspected harassment to your state's Civil Rights Commission.

If you have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child may be suffering abuse, you must report it immediately to the local child protection agency or police.


Revised November 8, 2011 Updated May 20, 2014
0