There is no justification for child sexual abuse and no excuse for creating an environment where it is allowed to happen. Unfortunately, sexual abuse occurs far too often in many youth organizations. While an individual typically commits the abuse, the organization may be liable for failing to prevent the abuse.
If you or your child suffered child sexual abuse by a member of a youth organization, you can take effective legal action with our help. At Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., we represent child sexual abuse survivors in civil suits against individual perpetrators and negligent organizations.
Attorney Jeffrey Fritz successfully represented some of the victims in the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky case. Mr. Fritz is a charter member and past president of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, an affiliate of the National Center for Victims of Crime. Our experienced lawyers can help you and your family seek compensation and find resources to heal.
Please call us at 215-929-7216 to schedule a free confidential consultation with one of our attorneys in Philadelphia, Allentown, Lancaster, Reading, Cherry Hill, New Jersey and New York.
Sexual Abuse in Philadelphia Youth Organizations: Common Warning Signs
Children who have been the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of adults involved in youth organizations don’t always feel comfortable speaking up about their experiences. It is often the responsibility of a child’s parents or guardians to identify the signs of a problem.
Common warning signs to be on the lookout for if you suspect your child may have been sexually abused while participating in a youth organization include the following:
- New anxiety or depression
- Nightmares or other such sleep disturbances
- Apparent fear of certain places, people, or situations with no clear explanation
- Increased aggressiveness
- New lack of interest in school, sports, friends, etc.
- Familiarity with sexual topics that is uncommon in a child of their age
- Self-esteem issues
- “Perfect” behavior, like the behavior of someone afraid of getting in trouble for misbehaving
- Writing or drawing about sexual situations
- Regression to thumb-sucking and other such behaviors typically associated with much younger children
Yes, these signs don’t guarantee a child is being sexually abused. There are many other potential explanations for them. Sometimes, they’re relatively harmless. For example, a child may have picked up knowledge of sexual activities through pop culture, conversations they’ve overheard, etc.
Regardless, if you notice these signs, don’t ignore the issue. Discuss the topic gently but firmly with your child.
Your goal is to ensure they feel comfortable being honest with you about their experiences. You must thus strike a delicate balance between making it clear they won’t be “in trouble” for anything they say while also making it clear this is a serious matter and they must answer your questions honestly.
That said, even if you strive to ensure a child feels comfortable answering your questions, given the significant impact that sexual abuse can have on a child, they might still lie and pretend nothing has happened to them. If you strongly believe your child or a child you have responsibility over is being abused, remove them from the potentially dangerous situation and investigate the matter further.
Seeking Compensation After a Child is Sexually Abused in a Youth Organization
If a child has been the victim of sexual abuse, you can file a civil suit against a negligent youth organization on a child’s behalf. You may file a suit to seek compensation for such damages as:
- Bills for counseling and medical care
- Relocation expenses
- Pain and suffering
That’s not an exhaustive list. Review your case with the experts at our Philadelphia sexual abuse in youth organizations law firm to get a more thorough sense of the types of damages for which your child may seek compensation.
Be aware that taking legal action in these circumstances doesn’t merely benefit you and your child. It can also limit the chances that other children who participate in this youth organization will be victimized in the future. If the negligent parties responsible for allowing your child to be abused are held accountable, they may be less likely to overlook such issues going forward.
Organizational Negligence Can Lead To Sexual Abuse
Youth organizations are supposed to provide recreational, developmental and educational opportunities to children. If an organization fails to create a safe environment and effectively supervise employees and volunteers, however, it may be held liable for losses suffered by sexual abuse victims.
We can help you file a civil suit against organizations such as:
- Boy Scouts of America
- Girl Scouts of the United States of America
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America
- Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA)
- Camp Fire
- Day camps and sleep-away camps
- Church-affiliated youth organizations
Children can be victimized by employees, volunteers or other children in the organization. All youth organizations should perform background checks on potential employees and volunteers. They should also get written and verbal recommendations from references and carefully screen applicants during interviews.
Negligent supervision can also be a factor in sexual abuse occurring in youth organizations. Many organizations have guidelines requiring the two-adult rule: there must be at least two adults present with children at all times. If an organization does not have guidelines or fails to enforce them, this may be evidence of negligence.
Anyone at the organization who fails to meet mandatory reporting requirements may also be held accountable for abuse.