Each day young and innocent children are sexually abused by an adult, usually by someone they know. About 80,000 children report abuse, but many other cases go unreported because children are scared to speak up, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
“Life is different,” Christa Zaro, a mother of two boys, said. “You can't even trust your child to spend the night at a neighbor's because you just never know.”
Jerry Sandusky is at the center of the recent Penn State sex-abuse scandal. Sandusky is accused of being sexually inappropriate with boys for more than 10 years.
A Utah State University rugby coach was recently accused of having relations with a student player.
These alleged incidents are reminders of how vulnerable children are.
“When you think about children and why they want to get into sports, this could be something that takes away from wanting to do that,” Kevin Sampson, a former assistant soccer coach, said.
Child Psychologist Douglas Goldsmith works with sexually abused Utah children. He said Sandusky is accused of behavior that matches a textbook pedophile.
“It is all part of the pedophile plan,” Goldsmith said. “We have got to ask children what this contact is like and watch closely to their behavior.”
Zaro said parents should take responsibility. The perpetrator could be anyone, a father, uncle, or family friend.
The warning signs of a child predator include certain behaviors listed below.
- Spends hours with child
- Gives presents or gifts to child
- Takes child on day trips
- Invites child to sleepovers
If you suspect your child may be a victim of sexual abuse, contact the Utah Department of Child and Family Services hotline at 1-855-323-3237.