Preventing Child Abuse
April 17, 2013
Beyond the Background Check
Jeff C. Heiser
Senior Assistant Director, Recreation
It’s spring time and chances are program coordinators and directors are gearing up for another great summer of recreation and athletic camps on colleges and universities across the country. By now, hiring is probably in full swing as directors are interviewing and finding top quality counselors and instructors for their programs.
An integral piece of the hiring and screening process involves ensuring that all staff histories are appropriate for working with youth; this most likely includes a fingerprint background check to eliminate those with criminal histories. Another commonly used screening tool is the National Sex Offender Public Website. This is a free service that lists all registered sex offenders across the country and can be searched by name or neighborhood.
Although fingerprint background checks and use of the National Sex Offender Public Website are important steps in discovering staff histories, they cannot be our sole source of information. Unfortunately, most child molesters do not have a criminal background record. If you are relying on a criminal background check to be your only defense against child abuse, you may not be doing everything you can to prevent child molesters and abusers from being hired, gaining access to your participants and causing irreversible damage to individuals, your program and University.
Fortunately, there are several other defense measures we can utilize as hiring managers to prevent child abusers from gaining access to our program. Procedures and strategies should be developed to guide hiring, training, supervision and response practices.