Gymnastics community talks safety in wake of sex abuse scandal
As the gymnastics community reels from the USA Gymnastics/Dr. Larry Nassar sexual molestation scandal, gymnastic coaches in New Jersey are dealing with the fallout.
Ron Boyce, owner of Head Over Heels gymnastic school in Parlin and Middletown, says that the scandal involving Nassar was something no one could have ever imagined.
“It’s mind-boggling. It really is,” he says. “I don’t understand it.”
Boyce says that he hopes that the stories of sexual abuse at the national level don’t deter parents from enrolling their children in gymnastic classes. He says that his school has had safety standards in place for a long time.
“Coaches are all certified and we do background checks on them,” he says. “There cannot be one coach out here with one child by themselves. There has to be two coaches at all times."
Many gyms encourage parents to be involved and keep eye on their own kids, with things like viewing windows or observation televisions.
"We encourage parents, if they’d like to stay, they can stay a whole class. They’re welcome to drop and leave as well,” says coach Laurinda Sutphen. “It's important that they see what they’re learning, as well as keep eye on their children."
Coaches also suggest that parents ask a lot of questions when choosing a gym and to keep in communication with teachers. They says that the one thing they don’t want is for parents to keep their children from signing up for any sports that they think they may enjoy.
USA Gymnastics recently approved and adopted a new Safe Sport Policy for all of its member-gyms.
Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for molesting up to 150 young female athletes.