South Charlotte

Seminar to focus on stopping sex abuse

Like many people, Al Simpson has paid close attention to the child sexual abuse cases recently reported.

Simpson is head coach of the Charlotte Boxing Academy at Revolution Sports Academy, and an assistant with USA Boxing. He mentors dozens of youths each year.

That's why he decided to organize a Coaches Awareness Seminar and invited local professionals and coaches as presenters and attendees.

"We as coaches ... probably need to be addressed on how we handle athletes, to be aware of what goes on, our dos and don'ts," Simpson said. "It's only to benefit us as coaches. We may feel that we think we know everything, but there are a lot of things to be better aware of."

Simpson says he has tried to communicate through Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, where he works; Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; and various youth sports organizations. He expects up to 150 coaches, trainers and other adults.

Among the guest speakers will be Wade Younger of The Butterfly Gateway, the Rev. James Covington of Darkness to Light - both childhood-sex-abuse-awareness organizations - and a representative from the Department of Social Services.

The seminar's mission is to teach adults how to recognize signs of abuse and how to help the athletes.

Simpson thought of organizing the seminar when he was interviewed for a local TV news segment on childhood sexual abuse. He viewed the piece and became familiar with Younger's message through Butterfly Gateway.

Younger, a 49-year old Charlotte resident, says he was sexually abused as a child and didn't talk about it with anyone until six years ago. Younger made his story public in 2008.

Younger, who has appeared on the "Dr. Phil" show and written several books on the topic, says it was important for him to confront his past. A professional public speaker, Younger founded Butterfly Gateway in 2008 to raise awareness of childhood sexual abuse.