In light of the conviction of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, are there signs parents can watch for that indicate a sports coach might be a potential sexual predator?
Yes, says Daphne Young, creator of a "Blow the Whistle on Child Abuse" education campaign developed by an Arizona-based organization called Childhelp. The campaign was launched in response to the Sandusky charges. "We had so many parents contact us with the very same question," Young says.
Predators may groom children before sexual interaction occurs. Watch for:
* Excessive or prolonged touching
* Use of provocative language
* Showering with a student
* Private extracurricular practices, visits, phone calls, sleepovers or one-on-one activities
Parents should also watch for physical signs of sexual abuse. These include:
* Child's difficulty walking or sitting
* Torn or bloody underwear
* Pain, swelling, itching or bruising in the genital area
* Pain while urinating
A child may also exhibit behavioral signs that sexual abuse may have occurred:
* Unwillingness to change for gym or participate in physical activities
* Sexual behavior or knowledge inappropriate for a child's age
* Sexual acting out on younger children
If you suspect a coach of sexually abusing a child, Young recommends calling the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-4-A-CHILD. Read more about "Blow the Whistle on Child Abuse" at childhelp.org/blowthewhistleonchildabuse.