Blog, In the News
Simone Biles, USA Gymnastics Testimony: Op Ed
September 24, 2021
All children are at-risk of being abused by an adult. Family & Children’s Place has been deeply committed to protecting children from acts of violence, neglect, and abuse for over 135 years.
Last week, four Olympic gymnasts testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee regarding how poorly the FBI, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee handled the investigation into claims of abuse at the hands of Larry Nassar. Though he has now been found guilty in three separate cases, he was able to continue abusing children for years after the first reports were made. Disturbingly, this was a man who worked as a team doctor for universities and most notably, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team further illustrating how close offenders may be to children even under the best of circumstances. While these brave young women were able to speak publicly about their experiences and demand accountability, unfortunately, most child abuse survivors will never have that opportunity.
This is why it remains more important than ever to know the signs of child abuse, report suspected cases and most of all, advocate for the rights and safety of all children. In Kentucky, all adults are mandated reporters meaning it is the duty and obligation of all of us to utilize the Child Abuse Hotline any time we suspect abuse could be occurring.
The COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and quarantines shielded children from the eyes of their protectors. Teachers, coaches, and childcare staff are some of the most reliable witnesses of a change in a child’s behavior, attendance patterns or appearance, all of which can be signs of abuse. In many instances, they may be the only trusted adults in a child’s life.
As the pandemic leaves the world in a state of uncertainty, we all must become more diligent in observing the children around us. Take note of visible injuries, changes in appetite or eating habits, frequent or sudden mood swings and new or unusual fears or aversions. Ask questions if you notice a child suddenly having money, toys or gifts without reason or hear them discuss a new older friend they share secrets with. The pandemic has changed the world, but predators do still exist. Always monitor a child’s internet activity, especially as time online increases.
Listen to, believe and advocate for the children who trust you. Many people do not report because of the fear of being wrong. But imagine if you’re right? You may just save the life of a child in your community.
To report suspected cases of abuse or neglect, please call 1-800-572-6200 in Kentucky or 1-800-572-6200 in Indiana.