Protecting children against sex abuse, parents react to end of Nassar sentencings

Protecting children against sex abuse, parents react to end of Nassar sentencings
Protecting children against sex abuse, parents react to end of Nassar sentencings. (Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - What if it were my child? That's been the question from parents of athletes across the country as the Larry Nassar case has unfolded, wanting to know what to do if it happened to them.

"I didn't watch it at the beginning. Then I did and I couldn't stop," said Misty Strout, a local gymnastics parent.

Over the last few weeks, millions of people were glued to the TV as Nassar faced justice. That included Strout.

Her daughter has been a gymnast for twelve years.

Strout told Tucson News Now, "I just can't imagine what those kids are going through. What the parents are going through. I'm very fortunate that my daughter has never encountered anything like that."

The entire ordeal has put the question in other parents' minds. How would they handle the situation if it became personal? What do they look for?

Tucson News Now reached out to Casa de Los Ninos for input on what parents should identify as signs and symptoms of sexual abuse in their children.

Experts told TNN every child reacts differently, but these are symptoms they may see:

  • Sudden changes in mood or behavior
  • Nightmares or sleeping problems
  • Changes in appetite
  • Becoming withdrawn/isolating or becoming overly clingy
  • Regressive behaviors (ie, bedwetting/accidents)
  • Fear of certain places or people
  • Anger or aggression
  • Self-harm
  • Substance abuse
  • Sexually acting out with toys or towards other peers
  • Unexplained gifts from new/older "friends"
  • Physical symptoms like unexplained soreness, bruising around the mouth or genitals
  • Pain/bleeding in the genital area during urination
  • STDs or pregnancy

Strout said if a child speaks up, parents should believe them and go to officials.

The Tucson Gymnastics Center is among local gyms looking out for each other, being a support system, and sticking it to the ugliness rocking their world as of late.

Mary Farias, TGC Head Coach said, "We want to make sure as coaches we're looking for more than just medals and looking for gymnastics."

If you feel your child may be a victim of sexual assault, you can call the national hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. There are a number of local resources as well.

Parents can reach out to Casa de Los Ninos, the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault or Las Familias Angel Center for Childhood Sexual Abuse. These organizations specialize in these types of cases.

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