05/09/2013 05:58 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2013

Stop Child Abuse in Sport

I have long believed that the way we treat children is a clear reflection of how we treat ourselves. In the area of protecting children from abuse, the image in the mirror is most unflattering! According to the CDC, approximately one in four girls and one is six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. Many of these victims are those involved in youth sports. While there has been much wringing of the hands in private, publicly, few organizations have stepped up to the line to rally national support to end this abuse. That is, until the United States Olympic Committee announced its yearlong effort to stop child abuse in sport.

We know that sports can bring the opportunity to experience success, to learn about teamwork and decision-making as well as developing personal tools for healthy living. But we also know that unfortunately, too many children and young athletes have suffered from abuse by that unscrupulous coach who will use the goals and aspirations of a young athlete for their own vile purposes. I am proud that the USOC is working put an end to this.

I believe that sports is a birthright. We humans are the only species on earth that take part in sport and we deserve to have access to the joys that sports bring. I have had the opportunity to practice sports at the Olympic-level and I know that my life has been better for that experience. My daily work is dedicated to providing the best that sports has to offer to the youth of Southern California through the work of the LA84 Foundation, which is the legacy of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Now I want everyone in the US to join with the United States Olympic Committee as they have created a yearlong effort to help ensure that the youth of American have the best that Sports has to offer.

I encourage you visit the USOC's website. The mission is simple. We wish to make a commitment to learn more about the problem and to combat it by taking steps to educate and ensure that those organizations involved in youth sports implement policies to stop abuse. If we work together, next year at this time, we can celebrate making a big difference in the way that most kids will experience sport!