Home » Team of Experts Channel » Youth Sports: Abuse Takes Many Forms

Youth Sports: Abuse Takes Many Forms

Emotional, physical, sexual abuse and neglect surprisingly common

Physical Abuse

  • Occurs when a person in a position of power, authority or trust such as a parent or coach purposefully injures or threatens to injure a child

  • Takes many forms, including any of the following:

    • Slapping

    • Hitting

    • Shaking

    • Throwing equipment

    • Kicking

    • Pulling hair

    • Pulling ears

    • Striking

    • Shoving

    • Grabbing

    • Hazing

    • Punishing "poor" play or rules violations through the use of excessive exercise (extra laps etc.) or by denying fluids

Sexual abuse

  • Occurs when a person in a position of power, authority or trust engages in "sexualized" touching or sex with a child

  • "Sexualized touching" is where touching, instead of being respectful and nurturing, is done in a sexual manner. Examples include:

    • Fondling instead of a hug

    • Long kiss on the lips instead of a peck on the cheek

    • Seductive stroking of any area of the child's body instead of a pat on the rear-end for a good play.


Your child is being harassed when she or he is threatened, intimidated, taunted, or subjected to racial, homophobic, or sexist slurs. Sexual harassment includes comments, contact or behavior of a sexual nature that is offensive, uninvited or unwelcome.


Neglect is a chronic inattention to the basic necessities of life such as supervision, medical and dental care, adequate rest, safe environment, exercise, and fresh air.

Neglect in a sports setting make take the following forms:

  • Injuries are not properly treated

  • Athletes are forced to play hurt

  • Equipment is inadequate, poorly maintained or unsafe

  • Road trips are not properly supervised.