In the wild, adult animals instinctually try to shield and protect their
young from predators.
Human beings, however, add an element of thought and contemplation to most
situations. The human wolf will infiltrate into the company of parents to
gain their confidence, all with the secret agenda of gaining unsupervised
access to children.
Thats a fabulous way to put it, said Susan B. Sorenson, a professor of
social policy and executive director of The Ortner Center on Violence &
Abuse in Relationships at the University of Pennsylvania. Weve seen the
process occur whether its been through churches, schools or through
sports. The trusted adult, not just by the kids but by the parents and the
family, and the community can end up taking advantage of kids. That
becomes devastating for the kids as well as the families.
Abuse of athletes by coaches has again exploded into the American
conscience. Last week it was announced Michigan State settled lawsuits
filed by the victims of Larry Nassar, the disgraced sports doctor who
worked for the university, after more than 300 women accused him of sexual
abuse. In January, more than 150 of those women including several
Olympic-medal winning gymnasts testified in a hearing. He was sentenced
to, essentially, life in prison.
Studies have shown that 90 percent of children who are abused know their
Through his work as president and CEO of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation,
Steve Salem says his organization has developed safety guidelines that all
organizations that involve work with children should adopt as a
preventative tool against child abuse. It includes background checks for
He says that sometimes the people in those organizations, including
parents, become their own worst enemies.
The kind of responses we get is, We know there is a problem, but we dont
have a problem, Salem said. It can become so disappointing. Theyre in
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