By Glen Evans, GlenEvans.net

Recently in New Bedford, a 14 year old girl was sexually assaulted by a little league coach. Near Galveston, Texas, a soccer coach accused of an inappropriate relationship with a 15 year old killed himself after being arrested when his relationship with the girl was revealed.

In northern Virginia, a popular physical education teacher, and soccer coach reportedly sexually assaulted a 12 year old girl in the school gym.

This is shocking and ridiculous.  How is it child predators have access to our children while playing sports?

A simple search in any search engine will list in detail the numerous offenses being reported across the United States, and the trend is very disturbing. Aside from the fact that these types of crimes are life altering for the victimized children, they leave parents mistrustful and worried their children will be hurt or victimized.

Brad Snellings, Marketing Director for Protect Youth Sports puts it this way, “Child predators and criminals should be discouraged from applying for coaching jobs. Requiring background checks as part of your youth sports organization policy is a good way to dissuade someone from eveb applying.”

Many youth sports organizations are run by volunteers with limited budgets, and the problem would seem too big to tackle.

Many organizations may assume they can’t afford to put all their coaches and officials thorugh lengthy background checks, but the reverse is true.

I can imagine a youth sports coordinator feeling like they can’t do this because of an adminstrative nightmare, but that wouldn’t be true because of a great online resource I am going to share with you.

In my view, they can’t afford not to. From a parental perspective, youth organizations who allow child molesters to operate within their organization would somehow be negligent, especially when their are online tools that streamline the process.

The Florida Senate recently passed legislation that would require youth coaches to undergo background checks, when it was revealed by a CBS 4 news report which showed a Florida organizations were allowing two long-time coaches at Tamiami Park, men who coach six and seven year-olds every week were arrested on drug felony charges. Police say coaches Jorge Perez and Manuel Ojeda ran a big pothouse in Southwest Miami-Dade.

Allowing drug dealers to coach our kids?  Not my kids!

Although they were charged with serious felonies, they were still allowed to coach due to a loophole.  Legislative efforts are now being made to close this hole and protect children.  I wouldn’t want my kids being influenced by drug dealers, and I am sure most parents would agree.

One organization that is making a difference in this arena is Florida based Protect Youth Sports. From my research, I would comfortably say it is the most comprehensive coach background check process currently offered.

Protect Youth Sports has a multi-level approach for any Youth Sports Organization because they offer standard background checks and offer the opportunity to have several different types of searches done. For example, your sports organization could choose to check a coach’s driving record, a county court search, and a sexual predator search. If the volunteer will be handling money, you can also have a more extensive background check done.

Each state has different requirements, and Protect Youth Sports has an online consultation service that shows you exactly what your state requires.  This is what makes this system so great.  Most youth sports organizations already have overworked volunteers, who may question whether they have the time to get all of this done and to administrate it properly.

Protect Youth Sports has created a process where it is all done on the internet. It makes it very easy. A coach goes online, provides information within a database, signs an online form and Protect Youth Sports takes care of the rest.

Once the background check is done, usually with 48-72 hours, the results are available for the coordinator to see and make a decision about the appropriateness of the coach candidate.

For the organization serious about protecting children, Protect Youth Sports also has an online video training course concerning child safety, so coaches can receive quick training to recognize when a child may be being abused, and the requirements necessary to report the abuse to the appropriate authorities.

Once the training course is viewed by the coach, a certificate is available for print and it is documented that the course has been completed within the system.

Another great thing about Protect Youth Sports background checks is that the background checks are re-verified.  Imagine doing a background check on a prospective coach, and getting the wrong information back.  The risk is a good person may be unfairly accused.  Protect Youth Sports provides a re-verification process that decreases the chances of this happening, so your youth sports organization can be assured they are receiving the most accurate, dependable information available.

The National Alliance for Youth Sports has even endorsed PYS. John Engh, chief operating officer said, ”Protect Youth Sports has demonstrated a unique awareness to the needs of youth sports organizations and has developed a very thorough process for running national background checks and re-verifying the accuracy of records.”

Coach background checks are increasingly being used by sports leagues, recreation centers, and children’s organizations due to the disturbing trend and increased reporting in the media regarding child sex abuse cases.

If you have questions about beginning a background check program for coaches, PYS even has a short video course explaining how it all works.  Signing up for the course is easy and you can just go to their homepage at www.protectyouthsp.wpengine.com and fill in the form with your name and email address.

The video links are then sent to your email box and you can discover how to protect the kids in your care using their state of the art system.

As a police officer, this writer is uniquely aware of the threats against children. Child predators are extremely adept at infiltrating organizations, gaining trust, and then victimizing children. Although most normal people would like to avoid thinking about this, our litigious society won’t allow it.  There is a lawyer, judge and jury somewhere who will make your organization pay for ignoring this problem, especially when the internet and related technology is readily available to help you.

Youth sports exist to give our kids a great experience, to challenge them physically and help them grow into maturity. A sex abuse scandal will not only harm the child who is victimized for a lifetime, but will rob your sports organization of the hard earned trust it has worked so hard to achieve within the community.  Do not allow this to happen to your athletes.

Protect them with a great background check program for your coaches and volunteers, and I recommend Protect Youth Sports to help you streamline the process.