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Signs of Abuse in Schools and Sports – What All Parents Should Know

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2018

No parent wants to consider the idea that a teacher or coach could be abusing his/her child. With atrocities such as the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case making recent headlines, however, this tough topic is, unfortunately, something to which parents must pay attention. Learn the following frequent signs of physical, mental, and sexual abuse in a school/sports setting.

Verbal and Emotional Abuse from Coaches

It’s normal for a sports coach to be tough on his/her athletes. It’s not normal for coaches to berate, insult, belittle, humiliate, ignore, bully, isolate, or taunt student-athletes. Verbal attacks on an athlete’s self-esteem by an authority is a form of emotional abuse. Attend sports practices, workouts, and conditioning sessions to monitor how coaches run their teams.

Signs of Physical Abuse

Teachers and coaches may physically abuse their pupils as an expression of power. Physical abuse can be detrimental to a student’s well-being, mental health, and future. It’s important to check for signs of possible physical abuse, including physical sexual abuse. Some general signs of potential physical abuse at school or during sports include:

  • Unusual or suspicious bruising
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Strap or burn marks
  • Broken bones
  • Serious head and brain injuries
  • Sexual abuse signs, such as genital injuries

It may be difficult to differentiate injuries that stem from the standard roughness of the sport from those that result from abuse. Asking direct questions regarding the circumstances of his or her injuries and speaking to other players, students, supervisors, and witnesses about injuries can provide clarification. If a coach’s explanation of an injury doesn’t line up with the type or extent of damage, it could be a sign of physical abuse.

Cruel and Unusual Punishments

Teachers and coaches may be responsible for the discipline of unruly children, but this does not give them permission to do as they please when it comes to student punishments. Unusual punishments such as restraint, isolation, or physical abuse are cause for alarm. It is also abuse if a coach/teacher punishes a child for unreasonable reasons, such as losing a sports game.

Signs of Teacher/Coach/School Negligence

Negligence is not the same as abuse, but it is still a serious issue. A school might be negligent if it allows dangerous staff members or property elements to exist on the premises. A teacher or coach could be negligent if he/she does not fully understand his/her duties to students, does not supervise children during sports practices, or fails to reasonably prevent injuries. What constitutes “reasonable” duties of care depend on the person and the situation.

Frequent Accidents or Injuries

The occasional sports mishap or case of food poisoning might not point to a lawsuit. A pattern of abuse and negligence at a school or sports program, however, should be cause for alarm. While illness or injury should be taken seriously, special attention should be paid if these accidents happen frequently under the care of a certain school or staff member. In many cases, one child’s experience is sadly not an isolated incident. The sooner wrongdoing is detected, the sooner others can be protected.

If you suspect abuse by your child’s teacher or coach, contact our law office immediately to evaluate your legal options. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with a Baltimore athlete representation attorney.