The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children announced its partnerships with former student-athletes from the University of Michigan and Ohio State University, who have stepped forward with claims that they were abused by their team doctors.
The goal of this collaboration is to help children avoid becoming victims of sexual abuse.
Two former college athletes who made headlines for speaking up about their experiences, Chuck Christian and Mike Avery, will be leading various youth sports initiatives to raise awareness. These initiatives include teaching parents and coaches about sexual abuse.
Christian is a former Wolverines football player and the first to publicly state that the late Robert Anderson abused him. Avery was a Buckeyes lacrosse player who revealed that he was one of hundreds of former student-athletes who were sexually abused by former wrestling team doctor Richard Strauss.
Creating a Safe Environment for Children
According to NCMEC advocate Callahan Walsh, the goal is for the survivor athletes to provide their expertise in creating a curriculum that both youth and collegiate sports teams can use to prevent abuse in the future.
Walsh added that given the exposure that children have to adults in youth sports, the courage that the former athletes have shown in stepping forward is “unmatched” and helps the center work towards making the industry safer for children.
“Our goal is to create an environment in youth sports where children are safe and they can just be kids,” he told The Columbus Dispatch.
Exposing Sexual Abuse in Youth and Collegiate Sports
Sexual abuse in athletics is a serious issue across the country. Earlier this month, two more ex-students filed a civil rights lawsuit against OSU, alleging that the university was aware of Strauss’ misconduct but did nothing to help its students. Strauss was found to have abused at least 177 male students between 1979 and 1998.
In April, a former University of Evansville student filed a federal lawsuit against the university, alleging that she was sexually assaulted by former men’s basketball coach Walter McCarty and that the university failed to provide a safe environment for her.
In an attempt to demand more accountability from universities that face sexual abuse cases, several US lawmakers reintroduced a bill that would place more stringent monitoring on institutional handling of Title IX complaints regarding sexual harassments and abuse.