The allegations of sex abuse of children by assistant coaches at Penn State University and at Syracuse University are a harsh reminder to parents of the need not only for background checks but of vigilance when their child is playing sports and when their child is spending any amount of time alone with a coach. Perhaps this sounds overly protective; some might argue that such a stance could bring into question relationships of trust and safety among parents and coaches. But as more victims of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and of former assistant Syracuse basketball coach Bernie Fine come forward, the question arises: How were so many abused for so long?
While the original charges against Sandusky were abhorrent — a grand jury in Philadelphis has charged him with 40 counts of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years — the mind reels at hearing the additional charges brought against him: Just last week, Sandusky was again arrested after two more individuals brought charges against him. He spent the night in jail, until he was released on $250,000 bail paid by his wife; he now faces more than 50 counts of sexual abuse.
Fine has been charged with sexually abusing three children, two of whom were were ball boys for the Syracuse basketball team. A third, Zachary Tomaselli, has not only accused Fine of sexually abusing him, but himself faces charges of sexually abusing an underage boy. Children who have been abused are themselves more likely to become criminal offenders as adults. According to one expert, 40 percent of sex abusers were sexually abused themselves.
The Macho Culture of Sports
Sexual abuse happens more to girls than to boys:
In the most recent study by the Crimes Against Children Research Center in 2009, involving 1,175 children ages 14 to 17, 9 percent of girls reported unwanted sexual contact by an adult in their childhood; 1 percent of boys did.
The macho culture of sports makes it even more likely than an individual who has been abused will not speak up about it. It is very possible that even more have been abused than actually report it. They are hesitant, afraid and ashamed to speak up, in no small part because they fear that no one will believe them and that they will be harshly judged for casting doubt on someone who — like Sandusky and Fine — has been publicly revered.
Read more: bernie fine, child abuse, coaches, coaching, college athletics, college sports, football, Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, paterno, penn state, penn state university, sandusky, sexual abuse, sexual assault, syracuse basketball, syracuse university, youth hockey
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