Many youth sports organizations believe that having safety procedures on playing fields/courts is an adequate substitute for a background screening process to protect their children and youth from predators. And while having cameras on the premises, state of the art check-in systems, and having at least 2 adults on every team for games and practices is a valuable and recommended procedure, having a criminal background check is a vital part of any child protection policy.

Take the example of Stephen Greeley, a 40-year-old volunteer in St. Petersburg, FL that was recently arrested for molesting and raping a boy under the age of 12. Greeley befriended the boy and his parents over the course of a year and babysat the victim on at least two occasions in his apartment. He is charged with Sexual Battery and Lewd and Lascivious Molestation of a Child under the age of 12.

While none of these charges occurred on property or during organization-sponsored events, this is an example of the limitations of having guidelines in place solely on your property. Volunteers working with minors often have extended amounts of time with the children they supervise out from under the watchful eyes of the team and parents of other children. It is critical that your organization take every precaution to screen those responsible for the safety and well-being of your participants.

For more information on how to protect your youth sports league and the children in your organization please click here.