The Albuquerque Public School system is facing an embarrassing situation; one that largely could’ve been avoided with a proper hiring procedure that included routine youth sports background checks for all employees, staff, coaches and volunteers.
It began last summer. A deputy superintendent was hired without a background check. Turns out, he was facing criminal charges for sex crimes involving young boys in Denver. And domestic violence charges. The deputy superintendent resigned, along with the superintendent who hired him.
Since then, New Mexico’s Attorney General launched an audit into the school district’s employment records and what it found is shocking: Albuquerque Public Schools has nearly 2,300 employees who have not been subject to a background check.
This is INCREDIBLY alarming. Think of the numbers of adults who have had contact with the thousands of children who go to school in the APS system everyday. Parents put an insane amount of trust into teachers, staff, coaches and volunteers to safely care for, and protect, their children. In this case, though, parents had no idea who was actually working for the school district.
Once you get over the shock factor, though, you might start saying to yourself: “Wait, there were that many employees who weren’t vetted and we didn’t hear too many bad things about APS. It couldn’t have been that terrible of a situation.”
That’s short-sighted for so many reasons. Here’s four good explanations why every agency who works with children – including youth sports leagues – needs to conduct background checks:
The most obvious consequence of bringing people into your fold who haven’t been cleared is the potential danger to child athletes. Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children (a report can include multiple children), reports childhelp.org. That’s one report made every 10 seconds. More than 20-percent of these reports involve sexual abuse.
A background check is one of the greatest tools youth sports directors and leaders have at their disposal to protect children. For about the same cost as a bucket of practice baseballs, you can access a full background check report of a candidate’s criminal record, driving record, substance abuse, credit report, and many other character-focused traits. You owe it to the children in your care to take the first step toward protecting them from predators.
Without background checks, the risk of embezzlement or misuse of public funds is increased. Why? Many grassroots youth sports leagues are cash-only enterprises that might be run without a lot of oversight. This is a problem because even a small amount of money stolen from a kids’ sports team might dismantle the team completely. Here’s a peek at the most common types of youth sports thieves:
• 63% are women
• On average, men steal twice as much money as women
• Embezzlement starts at 42 years old, on average
• The greatest loss was caused by thieves between 40 – 49 years old
• 11% of all fraud reported in the U.S. occurred in religious and non-profit groups
At the community sports level, not all coaches and volunteers are experts in the field. Many of them are parents who are donating their time and energy to help give local kids something healthy and supportive to do. These volunteers are the lifeblood of these leagues. If the league they’re volunteering for is plagued by incompetent or unskilled or unfriendly (or insert whatever other negative adjective you wish here) employees at the helm, then getting volunteers to continue to sign on for more years or to attract new volunteers becomes a huge burden.
A background check that vets references, education and skill certifications can show you if someone is not who they claim to be on paper. This can save you a heap of time and energy when it comes to choosing the most-qualified person to run your youth sports league.
This is a biggie. If you hire someone without running a background check on them and they commit an offense against your league, a coach/volunteer, or worst of all – a child participant – your league could be on the hook for negligent hiring or supervision. A single lawsuit could certainly crumble an entire league on its own, not to mention the damage that would be done to your league’s reputation and character. In most cases, there would be no coming back from this sort of lawsuit – especially when it could have been prevented with an affordable, accurate and easy to complete background check by a nationally-accredited Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) like Protect Youth Sports.
But, we know that many of you are still holding back on making the final call to go with background checks. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. So, what’s holding you back? What questions do you have for us? Send us an email or call us at 877-319-5587.
Better yet, check out our FREE video series on the importance of background checks and how easy they really are to implement.