NEW HYDE PARK, NY – With the London Summer Olympics approaching and young people across the country taking part in team sports, local leaders in the arenas of politics, sports and medicine have joined together to identify new ways of recognizing and preventing sexual abuse in youth sports.
In collaboration with the North Shore-LIJ Health System, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and the Nassau County Sports Commission discussed their plans to protect young athletes at a news conference held Tuesday at the Legislative Building in Mineola. Keynoting the event was Katherine Starr, a member of the 1984 and 1988 Great Britain Olympic swim team, who had her athletic career destroyed after being sexually assaulted by her coach. Now the founder and president of a non-profit organization she named Safe4Athletes, Ms. Starr says “every athlete should be provided a safe and positive environment free of sexual abuse, bullying and harassment.”
“We are very proud to work with Nassau County and the Sports Commission to find new ways to help young people who fall victim to these predators,” said Jamie Hoffman-Rosenfeld, MD, chief of child advocacy and protection services, at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, NY. “It is our responsibility to alert parents, teachers, educators and young people that we are here to listen to them.”
County Executive Mangano said Nassau County supports this ongoing work. “We must do whatever we can to keep our children safe,” he said, “and eradicate predators from young people’s sporting activities.
The most heartfelt words came from Ms. Starr, who spoke about the devastation and loss associated with her personal tragedy. “When this happened to me, it destroyed my dreams,” she said. “There was no one I could talk to, because I felt that I had no power. It’s my goal that no young athlete should ever have to be in this position again.”
Educators, athletic directors, trainers and youth coaches were invited to participate Tuesday evening in a symposium on Recognizing and Preventing Sexual Abuse in Youth Sports, presented by the Nassau County Sports Commission and its lead sponsor, Briarcliffe College and the Office of County Executive Ed Mangano, in collaboration with the North Shore-LIJ Health System.