A bill recently reintroduced by a group of bipartisan lawmakers in the House and Senate aims to give youth-serving organizations like sports leagues and camps greater access to background screening tools is renewing an examination of the scope of the FBI fingerprint database. The Child Protection Improvements Act would allow organizations to screen potential employees and volunteers through the FBI fingerprint database.
Currently, child-serving organizations in more than 25 states DO NOT have access to the FBI database through their state. Of those that do, the wait times and/or costs are diminishing the power of this important tool.
This new bill builds on an 8-year-long pilot program that gave some youth-serving nonprofits access to the FBI database for screening purposes. The results were impressive:
- more than 105,000 screenings were conducted
- 6.2 percent of volunteers were flagged for concerns about a criminal record
- in more than 40 percent of cases, the prospective volunteer’s crime was committed in a state other than where they wanted to volunteer
Preventing Crimes Against Kids
This bill is an important and necessary step toward protecting our children. Increasing access to the database and removing other barriers to conducting background checks helps ensure our children are being supervised and/or exposed to staffers and volunteers who will not harm them or put them in danger. Furthermore, background checks will highlight any red flags that may indicate a person is a risk for committing fraud or other financial crimes. These can cripple youth-serving organizations, many of whom already run on bare bones budgets.
But it’s important to remember that FBI fingerprint checks have limitations and may not be as thorough as a well-rounded background check conducted by a nationally-accredited screening agency like Protect Youth Sports. FBI fingerprint data is incomplete, often inaccurate, and should not be the primary method of performing a background check. Although the Child Protection Improvements Act is a great first step, a youth group should really combine its access to the FBI database with a comprehensive background check.
Don’t Miss This Important Step
If organizations rely solely on FBI fingerprint checks, they are missing out on one of the most crucial components to any hiring and training process for a person who works with children. We’re talking about Child Safety Training – a program by which people are taught abuse prevention, warning signs, grooming behaviors and what to do if abuse is suspected.
THE STATISTICS ARE STAGGERING:
- ONE OUT OF 5 GIRLS IS SEXUALLY ABUSED BEFORE THEY TURN 12, AND 1 OF 4 BEFORE 18.
- ONE OUT OF 8 BOYS IS SEXUALLY ABUSED BEFORE THEY TURN 12, AND 1 OF 6 BEFORE 18.
- MANY REPORTS INDICATE THAT PRECISELY BECAUSE SEXUAL PREDATORS TARGET TRUSTING ENVIRONMENTS WHERE CHILDREN ARE PRESENT, THE INCIDENCE OF CHILD ABUSE IS ACTUALLY HIGHER IN THE YOUTH SPORTS COMMUNITY.
Statistics do not begin to describe the devastating consequences of child abuse. Each coach, staff member and volunteer should be required to complete a child safety program in addition to a background check. When staff members and volunteers have an awareness of the basic characteristics of a sexual abuser, the process by which an abuser picks and prepares a child for abuse, and indicators of child sexual abuse, they are better equipped to recognize and prevent abuse in youth sports programs.
We’ll keep you updated on the progress of the Child Protection Improvements Act. At this time, it’s in committee. If you’d like to track this bill, you can sign up here.
In the meantime, if your youth sports group is going to start using FBI fingerprint checks as its primary background screening method we strongly urge you to add Child Safety Training to your hiring and training process. Please reach out to one of our expert team members here.