Stories like this just break our hearts here at SportsSignup. We know we can’t keep our kids in a bubble forever, but a youth sports league should be one of the safest places for a child to spend their time. To hear that the president-elect of the New Mexico Young America Football League was arrested on a child pornography charge (and subsequently removed from his position with the league) horrifies us. Once again, we are reminded that you can never be too cautious when it comes to protecting our players from sexual predators. That’s why every sports parent should demand that their organization require coach and volunteer background checks for everyone involved in the league, from the league president down.
Think about how many times you’ve dropped your youth athlete off at practice or a game and been unable to stay the entire time? Maybe you had another child’s practice to get to; errands to run, a doctor’s appointment to make—but you put the health and safety of your child in the hands of the coach and their assistants. Now, 99% of the time your child is probably in good, if not great, hands and you have nothing to worry about. But like the New York Times story above or the Penn State scandal show us—99% of the time still leaves a lot of kids in danger of being abused.
SportsSignup is dedicated to keeping kids happy, healthy and active through youth sports and that means ensuring their safety. Now a coach and volunteer background check isn’t 100% foolproof, but it is the first step in protecting our players from sexual abuse. With Social Security Number Verification (used to verify that a person IS who they say they are) and the National Criminal File Search, a database of more than 200 million criminal records compiled from numerous sources including; government watch lists, fugitive watch lists, sexual and violent offender registries, state and county repositories, and state department of corrections, the SportsSignup KidSafePlus solution minimizes the number of false positives, or incorrect matches. 96% of the volunteers that register through the system require no action from an administrator. The background checks submitted by your volunteers are immediately sent out, reviewed, returned, and, if cleared, are automatically marked closed.
A coach and volunteer background checking system like KidsSafePlus helps identify any registrants who have a criminal record. However, to make your sports organization as safe as possible you need to ensure that 100% of your coaches, employees and volunteers are actually getting checked. Background check results can be merged with your rosters, so you can see who is volunteering but hasn’t completed a background check, or whose background check has expired. This way you can ensure you have the most up-to-date information possible.
However, like the New Mexico Young America Football League story shows us, even the supposed leaders of a sports organization can actually be a danger to that league. It’s important that sports organizations ensure that at least two administrators have access to all the volunteer background checks and information to make sure no one is slipping through the cracks.