My daughter’s cheering coach made her pull her shirt up

Dear Stop It Now!,

Is it ok for my 13 year old daughter’s cheer coach  make her pull her shirt up to show if she has a belly ring or not is in front of her team mates and other people?

Dear Concerned Parent,

It is absolutely inappropriate for any teacher or coach to ask a child to show him or her part of their body in this fashion. Please review our FAQs on Sexual Safety in Sports.

Putting a child at risk for abuse

When any adult puts a child in a vulnerable position, that child can feel violated, and in turn become more vulnerable to abuse. When children get the message that adults can do what they want involving their own body, they are less protected against possible abuse. This coach does sound to me as if he or she did make your child feel vulnerable by making her expose her body in front of him or her and an audience.

Warning Signs

As you decide how you want to proceed, what else do you know about this coach?

Speaking Up

Talking to the coach specifically about your concerns may be a good first step. Is he or she aware of how uncomfortable your daughter felt?  Do you get the sense that he or she understands healthy boundaries? The responses you get may help you determine what further actions you want to take.

Safety in sports or school settings

It is also appropriate to bring your concerns to your school administrators, asking them to describe for you their policies on promoting safe environments for their students.  Do they have a handbook for teachers describing acceptable behaviors, as well as behaviors between students and teachers that are not allowed? Our tip sheet,  Sexual Safety in Sports: Talking about Coaches Who Show Inappropriate Interest in Kids can help you prepare for this conversation.

I am so glad you wrote in with this question…and I’m also very glad that your daughter let you know when something happened with an adult that made her uncomfortable. Good communication is one of the most protective tools we have to help keep our children safe.  I hope this information is helpful and please write back if you have any other additional questions or concerns. 

Take care,
Stop It Now!

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Last edited on: September 19th, 2012