Don’t Be Afraid: Questions to Ask of Coaches, Tutors, and Instructors


    As parents, we spend lots of money on our children, childcare, dance lessons, gymnastics class, sports, tutoring, and other activities. We expect to get our money’s worth. But what does that mean? A happy child at the end of the day? A child who is showing growth as an athlete? A prodigy in music? Or maybe a child who is ahead of their peers academically?

    That is all well and good, but as parents, are we paying attention to who we leave with our children? Are they safe adults? Are we more concerned with the outcome of the lesson? And let me ask you, what are you doing while they are participating in the activity or at childcare? Is your nose buried in your phone, or are you catching up on some reading?

    I know so many questions – but consider this:

    1 in 10 children is sexually abused by the time they are 18 years old. 90% of child are sexually abused by someone they, or their parents, know or trust. More than 80% of child sexual abuse incidents occur when children are in isolated, one-on-one situations with adults or older youth.

    So back to those questions . . .

    We need to ask coaches, dance instructors, childcare providers, tutors, and activity directors a series of questions. So along with making sure they are the right fit with our child’s personality, skill level, schedule, and budget, ask these questions:

    What training have you had on child sexual abuse prevention?

    Do you have a Code of Conduct that states how the adults or older youth interact with children when a part of your program?

    What are your communication policies (texting, email, social media) with students? HINT: They should not be communicating with them!

    How do you avoid being in a one-child, one-adult situation?

    If unavoidable, how do you make the situation safer? Where can I stay as a parent to observe the lesson/practice if I need to?

    Do you want additional questions to ask? Use this School Checklist and modify it to fit your situation. If at any time you get a bad feeling or someone is not being forthcoming with answers to your questions, it is time to find a new activity. Trust your gut.


    You are not alone. Please reach out to one of the resources listed here National & State Resources – Darkness to Light ( for help related to reporting or responding to child sexual abuse.”


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    Tracy is the Director of Programming and Partnerships for Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. She grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education, in non-profits and in ed tech. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to two trans teens who are just beginning their journey. Self-care includes pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family. She also serves as Chair of the Board for the Attachment and Trauma Network, a national non-profit.


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