Signs of Child Sex Abuse by Coaches and Sports Instructors

January 19, 2015

Recognize the Warning Signs of an Inappropriate Relationship With a Coach

It’s not clear how many instances of child sex abuse by coaches and sports instructors go unreported, but it is clear that the abuse of youth athletes is more widespread than most people might believe. However, parents can protect their children by learning what signs to watch for—both in children and the adults they trust.

Potential Signs of Abuse in Young Athletes

It’s not always easy to recognize the signs of sexual abuse in a child, and some signs could have unrelated causes. However, children often exhibit one or more of the following signals when sexual abuse occurs:

  • Nightmares and sleep disturbance
  • Sudden changes in mood or behavior
  • Mood swings
  • Acting out adult sexual behaviors
  • Physical complaints, such as urinary tract infections, pain, or bruising

Potentially Suspicious Behavior by Coaches and Adults in Youth Sports Programs

Many sexual abusers don’t fit stereotypes, and it’s often hard for parents to believe that a respected coach or educator may be hurting children. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children recommends that parents pay attention to the following warning signs of an inappropriate relationship with a coach or instructor:

  • Makes an effort to schedule private practices or spend unsupervised time with children
  • Makes physical contact with children when not necessary for training
  • Gives special attention or gifts to a favorite child or children
  • Jokes about, talks about, or shares sexually explicit information with youth teams
  • Compliments or harasses children about appearance or sexual development


If you suspect your child has been sexually abused by a coach, you need personalized answers about your rights and what happens next. Reach out to our legal office today for a free and confidential meeting with our experienced attorneys.

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