Posts Tagged ‘parents’

Parental Lessons from the Gymnastics Mess


Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead, expose them. Ephesians 5:11


If you have ever wondered if we really need to prepare our children for the worst, the gymnastics world (USAG) has clearly shown us that we must.

The judge sentenced Larry Nassar to 40 – 175 years in prison for pornography and sexual assault. When given the opportunity to speak as a victim, Rachael Denhollander gave an impassioned testimony about the assaults on her as a young gymnast and the deaf ears of numerous adults and institutions as she tried to get this man stopped.

She said while in court, Larry Nasser (I can’t bring myself to call him, “Dr.”) said that “he hoped education and learning would happen from this tragedy.” Me, too.

On of the list of things Mrs. Denhollander said she hoped was learned from the results of this man’s life are what it looks like “when adults in authority do not respond properly to disclosures of sexual assault.”

There is no question that when sexual assault is reported, it must be investigated and the victim removed from the risk of further assaults.

Parents can learn from this whole situation. When the reports first came out, I thought it must not have been handled biblically, that people must have put up with this depraved man in silence (Deuteronomy 22:24).  I wondered why “they” (the victim, parents, adult authorities, coaches who knew, other families who knew, the institutions where the training was happening that knew) didn’t step in and do something about this.

Then, as I read the article ( ) and the Judge’s statement at Larry Nassar’s sentencing (,  I saw that I could not have been more wrong! Many people had come forward, had gone to the “authorities,” and had trusted someone in the USGA to do something about these ongoing sexual assaults that he was calling (and others tried to confirm) “medical.”

So, what if this is your daughter? What if it is your son’s baseball coach or any coach or athletic trainer? Are sports so important that we leave our children in harm’s way so they can go for the win? What kind of “win” is that?  What do our children learn from that?

Do our children know what the verses in Deuteronomy 22 say about crying out? Are we teaching them, in the moment, to express their discomfort, to tell us and anyone else close, what they have experienced? They could get it wrong, but at least then we could investigate and explain it, and make sure that they are in responsible and trustworthy hands – at least out of questionable hands.

Ephesians 5:11 says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead, expose them.” It is a command. Exposing evil comes with some discomfort in our world today. When Ms. Denhollander came forward and, tired of waiting for the “authorities” in the gymnastics world to do something, she filed a police report, she was ostracized by her friends, lost her church, and was accused of being a “gold-digger” looking for financial profit.

The thing that I think we can learn from Nassar is that evil men will continue until they are stopped. A child who makes a complaint needs to be heard and the allegations investigated. Parents, are we teaching our children to be ‘stoppers?”

Nassar pleaded guilty to 7 counts of sexual assault. There were 156 victims that we know about. Only seven cases were officially reported to civil authorities.

Are we teaching our children to expose evil?

If they do, will we leave them in it to suffer until our “system” is willing to be responsible and not value our sports above our children? Or, will we protect our children, regardless of the “cost” to the team?

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