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Experts: Parents Must Ask Questions About Kids’ Caregivers

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Little League baseball (Photo: AP)

Little League baseball (Photo: AP)

NEW YORK (CBS 2) – More details emerged Thursday about a popular Little League coach accused of sexually abusing several of his players.

Investigators say 52-year-old David Hartshorn abused three boys in his Queens home.

The one-time “Coach of the Year” in the Rochdale Village Little League was convicted of similar crimes in 1989, for which he received three years probation. Hartshorn was part of a non-sanctioned league, and was not required to undergo a background check.

So what can you do to screen caregivers and keep your children safe? CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu spoke to the experts about how parents can make sure their kids are being taken care of by the right people.

More than 7,000 children participate in Super SoccerStars each week. The coaches go through rigorous background checks every 12 months, including fingerprinting.

Dean Simpson, who’s been coaching for more than a decade, said parents need to ask important questions.

“Do you run a background check? Are your coaches certified? Do they have CPR and first aid [training]? There are some really key questions they need to find out, because if they don’t, they don’t know what hands they’re putting their child into,” Simpson said.

Gary Weksler is a former New York City Police lieutenant who now works as a private investigator. He said parents can easily research coaches and caregivers on the Internet, looking through sex offender registries and background check Web sites.

Weksler said his biggest concern, however, is over sexual predators who have not been caught, and who have no criminal background. He said the key is to engage your children to talk to you about activities whenever they’re alone with other adults.

“A lot of these individuals realize we don’t talk amongst ourselves, and they bank on the fact that that child is going to be too embarrassed to talk about it,” Weksler said.

Weksler said it’s important to casually approach your children in a positive way, asking who else was there, what they did, and whether they played any games.

“Very often, the perverts that are out there will engage them in games – ‘hey, let’s play a game’ – and it starts out that way, and it could lead to very, very horrible things,” he said.

Weksler said those talks with your children need to start early – as soon as they can communicate, at maybe four or five years old – and the key is to keep that line open, especially as they get older and often don’t want to talk.

Weksler said possible warning signs could be a change in your child’s behavior, and if they look away when you ask them about certain people. He said it’s also key to communicate often with your children’s friends and their parents.

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