Monday, February 1, 2016

Great childhoods, abuse and youth-serving organizations - the good news and causes for concern.

Dr. Janet Rosenzweig, Vice President for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America, has published a piece in titled "What is the rate of child abuse in schools, rec groups?" that looks at "Children Exposed to Abuse in Youth-Serving Organizations," a study published online today in JAMA Pediatrics. According to Dr. Rosenzweig, the study "offers both good news and cause for some concern when it comes to the rate of abuse in these groups." We hope you will take a look and let us know if you have any questions or comments. We have also pasted an excerpt below.

"Results from this study left me with an unanticipated area of concern: Of the children who reported abuse in a youth-serving agency or organization, 64 percent of the abuse by an adult was verbal or emotional. Based on this study, it’s estimated that up to 1 million kids could answer yes to the question: “Did you get scared or feel really bad because grown-ups in your life called you names, said mean things to you, or said they didn’t want you?” Emotional abuse, or bullying by an adult in a youth-serving organization, is 10 times more prevalent than sexual abuse, and the scars can be deep and long lasting. This is unacceptable, and is a call to action for parents.

Parents should consider action on two fronts: with their children and with their youth organizations. First, open communication with their children should include a conversation making it clear that coaches and other adults may say things are difficult to hear sometimes, but remarks from a good coach make a child want to work harder and do better, not make them feel bad or unwanted. Parents should encourage their children to share any concerns about a coach or staff members’ behavior or language.

Secondly, parents and caregivers should also investigate the policies and procedures of any organization serving their children. Learn the basics like how staff and volunteers are screened and trained, but don’t stop there. Most youth sports teams have specific volunteer or required roles to help the team operate, like “snack parent” or “equipment parent.” As the next team season approaches, think about collaborating with other parents to develop a rotating schedule for a “stand parent”, an adult to attend each game or practice to watch from the stands and cheer for each player, while keeping an eye and ear open for inappropriate treatment of kids by staff and volunteers."

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