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Former Husker hopes to raise awareness about abuse in youth sports

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 8:56 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2021 at 10:59 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Thursday is Wear Blue Day, it’s part of the Child Advocacy Center’s awareness campaign in April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Safe Sport estimates that 40% to 50% of kids experience some form of abuse throughout their athletic careers.

It’s a topic former Husker and NFL lineman Jeremiah Sirles is passionate about.

“As formative and as great as those years were for me knowing that there are children out there that were abused by coaches or where some form of mistrust was formed I think is something that needs to be talked about,” Sirles said.

Sirles said when it comes to youth sports, both parents and children put a lot of trust into another adult figure.

The signs of that abuse can present themselves in several different ways.

“If a kid is withdrawn from sports,” Sirles said. “Or if he doesn’t or she doesn’t want to go to practice, or they say they have a stomach ache or a headache on a pretty continuous basis.”

Sirles added there are many things about youth sports that are often seen as just part of the culture. That can potentially cross a line or even have a profound negative impact on a young athlete.

“I think when it flips the switch of competitive to win for fun and competitive so I don’t get in trouble,” Sirles said. “Or so the coach doesn’t yell at me or so my friends don’t make fun of me, that’s when it becomes too far in youth sports.”

With two young children of his own, Sirles hopes educating both parents and young athletes early on will help stimulate conversations that continue to the highest level of athletics.

“Help build something that every kid that does a youth sport comes out on the other side better for it,” Sirles said. “Not just be equipped for sports but for life and be better for it and stop any type of abuse that might happen.”

To learn more about the topic the Child Advocacy Center is hosting an Athlete and Abuse training session on May 19th from 1-5 p.m.

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