Sexual assault law aims to protect youth sports participants

Most people by now have heard of Larry Nassar's horrific sexual assaults on young gymnasts in his care. The former USA Gymnastics doctor was recently convicted of multiple criminal charges and will spend the rest of his life in jail.

Unfortunately, the gymnasts he abused also have to live with their experiences for the rest of their lives. That kind of abuse should never happen. USA Gymnastics fell under heavy scrutiny for failing to report alleged abuse to authorities.

That has led to a new federal law aimed at protecting youth athletes.

Youth organizations have allowed abuse to occur

As we all know, allegations of sexual assault should be taken seriously. In today's world of highly competitive youth sports, organizations have a tendency to put success before the health and safety of student-athletes. Multiple organizations have done so, from Penn State's football program to USA Gymnastics. A new investigative report alleges that USA Swimming also ignored sexual abuse allegations. We will write on those allegations on this blog as the story develops.

Administrators, coaches and others involved in youth sports have a moral - and legal - obligation to protect athletes from sexual abuse. This includes reporting alleged instances of abuse to proper authorities, regardless of how that will reflect on the organization.

New law addresses failure to report abuse

Congress recently passed the "Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act." Backed by the victims of Nassar, it requires any adult who interacts with youth sports participants to report alleged sexual assault within 24 hours. The adult must contact local law enforcement.

It is a step in the right direction, as all allegations of sexual misconduct, particularly against young athletes, should be properly investigated.

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