Volunteer Coaches Must be Background Checked

There has been numerous incidents in recent history of volunteer coaches abusing their relationship with children and young adults.  With summer in full swing children across the country are participating in sport camps and other athletic programs.  Due to news articles regarding criminal offenses by volunteer coaches it now has become imperative that parents feel their child or children are safe with the sporting group coaches and staff.  The swiftest and most confident way to help achieve this kind of peace of mind is to make sure that all summer camp staff including volunteer coaches undergo a rigorous background screening including criminal background checks, sex offender registry checks and necessary interviews and reference checks.

Throughout the year children of all ages join sports teams.  After-school programs cover nearly every sport and clutter the country.  Each day, after school, parks and gymnasiums and pools fill with youth sports teams and volunteers work with parents to guide and teach their children.

The expectation every parent demands is that their child participates in a safe, friendly environment.

As current news reports that is not always the situation.

Recently in Kewanee Illinois local citizens requested background checks on all park district coaches.

From StarCourier.com (Jun. 15, 17):

Two women whose children participate in the Kewanee Park District’s baseball teams addressed the park district board of commissioners Thursday night seeking background checks for all the park district’s coaches.

The women said they are concerned about those adults who volunteer to coach the park district’s youth teams after a baseball coach was taken into custody from a Kewanee baseball field earlier this week.(1)

While the offense the baseball coach taken into custody appears minor it did create enough concern for parents to question the overall screening process of volunteer coaches.

However, in Sullivan, MO a more serious situation occurred.

From KMOV.com (Jul. 06, 17):

Sullivan police arrested a 30-year old assistant coach during a Sullivan Boys Baseball Association game at Jim Bottomley Park on June 28 after identifying him as a registered sex offender.

Sex offenders are forbidden by state law from visiting parks or coaching athletic teams involving children under 17-years-old. (2)

In San Jose a swim coach was arrested for sexting underage team members.

From MercuryNews.com (Jun. 26, 17):

An assistant coach at the prominent QuickSilver Swimming club, who also trained teens with several other teams and schools in San Jose, has been arrested after police say he solicited and exchanged sexually explicit text messages and images with young swimmers and later discouraged them from talking to investigators.

It’s the second child-predator case involving a QuickSilver-affiliated employee in the past decade — a coach for its predecessor, San Jose Aquatics, was convicted on a score of child molestation charges in 2009. There are also accusations that the swim club knew about the allegations for several months before alerting authorities. (3)

Proper Background screening for any individual working with at-risk populations such as the elderly and children should be mandatory.

At a minimum a typical volunteer background check may include:

  1.       Sex Offender Registry Check
  2.       Criminal History Report
  3.       Department of Motor Vehicles Records

Criminal background checks protect youth as a first line of defense against potential predators.  A well-known, well-advertised background check program by a youth sports organization may give pause to potential predators attempting to coach kids.  It is society’s responsibility, as adults, to protect children in any way possible, and making volunteer’s go through a thorough vetting process certainly aids in this pursuit.

Ultimately, conducting a thorough volunteer background check need not be a burdensome task.  The simplest approach is to use a professional background screening company to perform the background checks necessary to fully vet a volunteer before they are given access to children.  The cost for this approach is minimal and the benefits are undeniable as thwarting an attack against a youth is priceless.

To read more regarding the need to perform a rigorous background screening on volunteer coaches and other athletic program volunteers read recent CriminalBackgroundRecords.com press release:  http://www.criminalbackgroundrecords.com/news/2017-07-10-Volunteer-Coaches-Must-Be-Background-Checked.html

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