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Molestation cases involving sports coaches have been prominent in the news lately. Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Bober advises parents that they need to be more vigilant and less trusting.
In central Florida, a former Kendall youth hockey coach accused of molesting a 12-year-old player is heading to trial soon. In Miami, a basketball coach was charged with molesting two teenage boys in May.
Such cases have been prominent in the news lately – and psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Bober cautions parents need to be more vigilant and less trusting.
“One of the very unfortunate things is a lot of people choose these professions specifically because they have access to children, whether it's a Cub Scout leader or a coach or a teacher,” says Bober, who is the medical director of child psychiatry at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital.
Bober says one red flag is if the coach wants to be alone with a child at an inappropriate or unusual time, such as when there are not other kids around.
In the hockey case, Joseph Timpone, 46, allegedly had a 12-year-old come to a hotel room during a team trip last September and gave the player an oil massage, according to The Miami Herald.
Timpone has pleaded not guilty to lewd or lascivious molestation, and his trial is scheduled to begin in Orange County in July, according to the newspaper.
Basketball coach Lorenzo Green, 50, of Miami allegedly hosted group sleepovers where teenage boys would engage in masturbation games, according to police.
Green, however, said in May that the allegations were fabricated in retaliation after he kicked the teens off his team. He is due to have a court hearing in downtown Miami on Monday, according to online Miami-Dade court records.
Bober says “you don't want to indict the coaches who are hardworking and just doing good by the children.”
“But the problem with kids that age all congregating in the same area is that there's sort of a mob effect where if one child goes along with the behavior and the other children witness it, they don't have enough ego strength or self-esteem to speak up so they all sort of go along with it, and it almost becomes normal over a period of time,” he continues.
Parents also need to be aware of the warning signs of sexual abuse, which include unusual interest or avoidance of sexual things, sleep problems or nightmares, depression or withdrawal, and being secretive.
“Explain to your children the difference between a good touch and a bad touch, and to not give them the sense that adults deserve blind obedience,” Bober says. “They deserve respect but they don’t deserve blind obedience, and your kids have to question the things that are being asked of them.”
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, child sexual abuse is reported up to 80,000 times a year. The number of unreported cases is far greater.