We place an immense amount of trust in the person or people responsible for caring for our children when we’re not around. The list of people our kids come in contact with on a daily basis is pretty big, too, when you think about it.
- Bus Drivers
- Day Care Employees
- Before or After School Monitors
- Extracurricular advisors (piano teachers, church youth group leader)
But, what do you really know about the person caring for your child? If it’s an employee or a volunteer working through a school district, business or other agency, you probably expect that they’ve run a thorough hiring process that includes a background check on their employees. If it’s someone whom you’ve directly hired, you hopefully asked for their references and maybe placed a phone call or two.
Is that enough? Not even close.
- Roughly one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday
- About 90% of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their victims
- Approximately 60% of children who are sexually abused are abused by people the family trusts.
*Source: Darkness to Light
Protecting our children from predators is one of our most important jobs as parents. Sometimes we want to bury our heads in the sand and pretend this isn’t the reality of the world we live in but we know we can’t do that. We need to ask questions. Demand change. Take proactive steps. Here’s what you need to know to help keep our kids safe.
Ask about hiring practices. Every reputable business or agency should have a firm hiring policy and onboarding procedure that every volunteer and employee undergoes. A background check by an NAPBS-accredited agency like Active Screening should be one of the safeguards they have in place to ensure they’re hiring quality, trustworthy and safe volunteers and employees. We understand that background checks are not an end-all to ensuring a safe workplace but they are a piece of the comprehensive puzzle that needs to fit together before someone can join an organization. If you don’t know if an organization screens their volunteers and/or employees, ask. If they say they don’t, demand that they do.
Don’t accept ‘it’s too expensive’ as an excuse. Nothing is more maddening than being told an organization’s bottom line is more precious than your child. Budgets are tight, especially for groups that heavily rely on volunteers like non-profits, youth sports and church programs. Money, however, is NEVER a valid reason to ignore your child’s safety. The fact is that plenty of reputable screening agencies offer affordable and customizable options for organizations that have volunteers and employees who work closely with children. That’s part of why we do what we do at Active Screening. We believe in keeping people safe and protecting your brand. Background checks are an integral part of this equation. Another way of approaching this dilemma is to ask volunteers to pay for their own background check. The theory is that you’ll only get people who are really committed to your cause AND who have a clean background.
If you hire an independent contractor, hire a screening agency. Reference checks only go so far. After all, someone who works on a for-hire basis isn’t going to include any questionable references, right? Then it’s up to you as parents to take charge of your child’s safety. The best way to do this is to team up with a screening agency who understands the laws pertaining to background checks. Compliance laws are quite complicated and can vary at the local, state and federal levels. You don’t want to get caught in a lawsuit because you attempted to conduct your own background check. At Active Screening, it’s our job to know these laws and ensure we’re following all the various guidelines that protect your privacy and the privacy of the person you want to employee.
Take it to the leaders. Our expectations as parents often far exceed the state and federal laws that should exist to protect our children. Case in point: 49 states and the District of Columbia require background checks, but not all of these states mandate comprehensive background checks. For a complete roundup of each state’s laws click on these links:
- State Backgground Check Regulations-Center Staff
- State Background Check Regulations for Family Child Care Providers
This needs to change. Every child in every state should be afforded the same level of protection that the law can provide. Talk to your civic leaders. You can demand this change.
Feel free to reach out to us, too. We are passionate about protecting our nation’s children and we’d love to hear from you about how we can work together to increase awareness about this important issue.