Even one case of sexual abuse of a youth athlete by a member of a sports organization is too many in our book. Youth sports teams are supposed to be a safe place for kids to grow and learn, make friends, do what they love and just have fun. It saddens everyone here at SportsSignup to think that there are some people out there who would take advantage of the trust that comes with being a youth sports coach or volunteer and use that power to abuse children. That’s why we believe that every sports organization should have a coach and volunteer background check system in place. While they may not be foolproof, running a background check on a potential volunteer can definitely help deter many would-be predators from joining your organization.
If protecting the lives of the children in your organization from sexual predators isn’t enough of a reason to invest in a volunteer background check system, you might want to consider this story of a soccer league in California,
The parents of a girl who was raped by her youth soccer coach when she was 13 are suing the local soccer league and its national umbrella organization for negligence in failing to adequately vet the coach before allowing him access to children…claiming that if they had a policy of conducting background checks they would have discovered that [the] coach…had a prior domestic violence conviction.
Public records showed that the coach had a past conviction for domestic abuse. Had the soccer organization run a volunteer background check on him they would have undoubtedly uncovered his criminal history and (we hope) would not have let him volunteer because of his history.
Approximately 96% of the volunteers that undergo a volunteer background check will require no further action from your organization. With KidsSafePlus, SportsSignup’s background checking system, the forms submitted by the volunteers are immediately sent out, reviewed, returned, and if clear, are automatically marked closed. About 4% of cases do come back with some issue that needs your attention. This could include issues such as:
- A Social Security number issue – whether a typo or perhaps intentional deceit.
- An admitted crime against a person or child. You decide if you want this person volunteering.
- A criminal record found in the background search – once again, you decide how relevant it is.
Not all crimes carry equal weight; a domestic abuse charge should raise a much redder flag than an unpaid parking ticket. Your sports organization has to decide where to draw the line when it comes to volunteers. No matter how great a would-be coach seems or acts or looks on paper if their background check doesn’t measure up they shouldn’t be allowed to volunteer with your organization.
Whether they should or not, parents put a lot of trust in faith in the sports organizations that their children belong to. Not every parent is going to be able to make it to every game or practice and they trust that the people you let serve as coaches and volunteers are the kind of people they can trust around their kids. League administrators and sports organizations have to take some responsibility for the people that walk through their doors and onto their fields—if they want to work for your organization they have to pass a volunteer background check with flying colors!