It’s not even June yet and parents must already make decisions about what their kiddos will be doing this summer. From camps to vacation bible schools, and youth sports groups to summer school, there are plenty of options to keep our children busy. But what about safe?

That’s the question Fred Engh, founder and president of the National and International Alliance for Youth Sports (, poses in a recent article on the Huffington Post. Engh claims that parents, communities and those very organizations who are supposed to care for and protect our kids during the summer have become complacent because of the very tool they use to vet candidates and volunteers. Of course, we’re talking about background checks.

Engh makes clear that background checks for employees and volunteers are a necessary component to any hiring process for any group who works with children. But he stresses that they should be just one component of a multi-faceted screening approach that not only vets candidates, but teaches them the signs to look for in cases of child abuse or odd behavior by predators.

His reasoning is simple. There are many predators who have never been caught, therefore they’d never have a criminal record and would appear ‘clean’ in a criminal background check. Engh says these people “could do their thing until they got caught.” By then it would be too late. The damage would be done.

Cases in point, which Engh points to in his blog post:

An administrative volunteer for a youth football league in California was busted this spring after police allegedly found images and videos of child pornography on his computers. He passed a background check because he had no criminal arrests, charges or convictions.

A 22-year-old volunteer middle school basketball coach in Naperville (Ill.) was charged with one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse earlier this year. The school district screens candidates through a software program that scans driver’s licenses for registered sex offenders.

Engh’s solution to all of this is available on the website for the National and International Alliance for Youth Sports. His organization has crafted a multi-tooled approach toward vetting anyone who works with or near children. Here’s a quick breakdown.

  • Application for employees and volunteers
  • Review Information and Check References
  • Interview
  • Criminal History Background Check
  • Social Security Number (SSN) and name verification
  • Sex Offender Registry Search (SOR)
  • National Criminal Database
  • A County or Statewide Criminal search when applicable
  • Compare Results against Disqualifiers
  • Training, continuous supervision and accountability

Protect Youth Sports – an Active Screening Company, focuses exclusively on screening youth sports employees and volunteers,
and has developed the most comprehensive approach to youth sports screening available. In fact, NAYS has had a collaborative partnership with Protect Youth Sports since 2008. This partnership was created to provide NAYS chapters with an essential service and discounted pricing to better manage the entire process of performing searches.

One of the cornerstones of the Protect Youth Sports background screening solution is its unparalleled child safety training curriculum. Child Safety Training is an important element of any child protection and abuse prevention system. When coaches and volunteers have an awareness of the basic characteristics of a sexual abuser, the process by which an abuser picks and prepares a child for abuse, and indicators of child sexual abuse, they are better equipped to recognize and prevent abuse in an organization’s programs.

Protect Youth Sports has developed minimum recommendations (Basic or Plus packages) depending upon each state’s reporting standards to assist organizations in performing accurate background checks while also adhering to any specific policies created by each organization.

Protect Youth Sports and NAYS have also integrated their systems to allow for NAYS chapters to easily register an account, request a search and view background check results all in one system.

If you’d like more information on Protect Youth Sports, please visit the site here. And, if you’re concerned about the efforts your kids camp or youth sports program is making to keep your children safe from predators, please tell them about Protect Youth Sports – an Active Screening Company, and the National and International Alliance for Youth Sports.


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