Background Checks… Don’t Be So Sure
Throughout the last several years, the phrase “background checks” has been floating around as if it’s a panacea for making sure youth sports leagues are doing the right thing when it comes to filtering out undesirables, such as child predators.
Sure it sounds good when leagues announce to all the parents, “We do backgrounds on all our coaches,” but did that mean that all the coaches were perfect, upstanding people in the community. What about the person who has never been caught? They would have no record and could easily slip under the wire. They could do their “thing” until they got caught. But by then it could be too late.
So what can be done, beyond doing background checks? Youth sports leagues have to put more emphasis on the whole screening process and background checks are just one part of that process. The National Alliance for Youth Sports has produced a document called “Background Screening in Youth Sports” with guidelines to help leagues develop their own screening process. It’s a free tool that parents or youth leagues can use to help identify and rid organizations of those who prey on children.
If a league stops vetting potential volunteers after they receive a clear background check then they are doing an incomplete job. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.