The Philadelphia region has experienced a spate of sex-abuse cases involving school coaches, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. In the last three years, 11 area youth coaches have been charged with attempting or having sexual contact with a player. The range of affected sports and schools is broad, including softball, swimming, hockey, squash, and football. The rate of assaults has likely remained the same. The difference, experts say, is a heightened awareness, driven partly by the prosecution of Jerry Sandusky, former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach, for sexually assaulting boys.
Coaches who have been arrested represent fewer than 1 percent of the adults active in youth sports. The wave of cases in the region has helped spawn state legislation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, training in schools, discussions across the U.S., and a new attention on the field. “I see people hanging around our practices, and I ask, ‘Who is that?’ ” said Mike Matta, a guidance counselor and head football coach at one school. “Ten years, ago I wouldn’t have asked.” Abuse often starts with special attention and extra one-on-one practices before the coach and the player spend time off the field.