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How Sexual Abuse Occurs Within the YMCA

August 11, 2022  ·  By HM&M

Stomach-turning stories of sexual abuse within the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) organization have parents questioning who they can trust.

The mission of the YMCA and its counterpart, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Per the mission, the YMCA’s goal is to create a safe place for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

If the goal of this faith-based organization is to protect and foster the health of our youth, why do sexual abuse allegations seem to be so common?

History of the YMCA

The YMCA is a global organization that reaches many different areas of the globe, with a long-standing history in thousands of communities. The YMCA offers various programs and initiatives which are said to “bring people together and inspire positive change.” According to, the non-profit organization was founded in 1844, serving more than 64 million people in 120 countries.

Sexual Abuse at the YMCA

From sports leagues to before/after school programs to summer camp, many families take advantage of the YMCA’s offerings, hoping to provide a safe, educational, and healthy routine for their children. Sadly, the feeling of safety is no longer associated with the YMCA as allegations of sexual abuse continue to come to light.

The cases of sexual abuse at the YMCA can be categorized in three ways—abuse by a YMCA employee, abuse by a YMCA member, or abuse by a YMCA event participant.

When children are gathering under the supervision of YMCA employees, the employees must exercise an extreme duty of care for the children. In recent years, a case in the state of Illinois demonstrated negligence at the hands of the YMCA employees who allowed children to be unsupervised in a restroom, fostering an environment for sexual abuse. The abuse occurred when an older child sexually assaulted a younger child.

In other cases of YMCA sexual abuse, the employees fail to provide proper care when they sexually abuse a child under their supervision.

However, an equally chilling scenario occurs when another member of the YMCA, unrelated to the daily happenings of the child, takes advantage of a minor in delicate situations, such as the locker room.

For any concerning experiences, including sexual abuse at the YMCA, a form is available on their website for reporting. However, if your child shares details of a sexually abusive situation, please contact your local law enforcement and an attorney right away.

Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse

If you are wondering whether your child is susceptible to sexual abuse during their time at the YMCA, the answer is yes. This is why it is crucial to ask questions and be informed when registering your child for events in which they will be cared for by someone new.

Some questions to ask include:

  • How many children will be participating in this event?
  • What is the ratio of children to supervisors?
  • What are the supervisor’s credentials?
  • What are the names of the supervisors?
  • How are the supervisors trained or educated in childcare?

In addition to asking the above questions, have a healthy conversation with your child about body safety. Finally, be sure to understand the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse in children so you can keep a pulse on your child’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Do You Need Help Filing a Sexual Abuse Claim Against the YMCA?

If your child is a victim of sexual abuse at a YMCA facility, please contact us for a free and confidential consultation. The attorneys at Hurley McKenna & Mertz are highly skilled at navigating the complexities of sexual abuse cases and are sensitive to the nature of these topics. Our goal is to keep your family safe and protect your rights.

Your child deserves justice and our communities deserve to know when these horrific actions occur. Your voice may help protect another child. For resources on how to help a child cope with sexual abuse, click here.

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