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Supplemental Background Checks: Important For Maintaining Child Safety

According to officials connected with the Boy Scouts of America, 23 adult Boy Scout volunteers in Central Texas have been accused of sexual abuse since 1960.

The memberships of all 23 have been revoked or denied, according to a Boy Scouts spokesperson.

According to a testimony publicized by the attorney representing the sexual abuse victims, the Boy Scouts have identified more than 7,800 former leaders across the U.S. who were accused of sexually abusing more than 12,000 children from 1944 through 2016.

The numbers were gleaned from the Boy Scouts' ineligible volunteer file, which is a list of volunteers and other people that the Boy Scouts removed and banned from its organization because of accusations of policy violations which include allegations of sexual abuse.

The Boy Scouts revoked the membership of 112 volunteers in Central Texas since 1991 and sent their records to the ineligible volunteer file of the organization.

Of those, 15 individuals were arrested or accused of child abuse or molestation, and 91 were charged with other crimes such as DUI; soliciting prostitution; embezzlement; spousal rape; narcotics possession; nonsexual assault; murder; aggravated assault on a peace officer; aggravated robbery; vehicular burglary; child abandonmen; and family domestic violence. Katie Hall "New Details: Boy Scouts identify 23 Central Texas volunteers accused of abuse" www.statesman.com (Apr. 25, 2019).

Commentary and Checklist

Background checks check the past of a person from a moment in time. They do not project into the future. People who work with children can and do commit crimes that put children at risk, even after passing a background check.

For organizations that work with children, it is important to supplement and update background checks regularly. Supplemental background checks should be as thorough as initial checks. Importantly, supplemental checks should be performed no later than every three years, but preferably every year.

Cost is always an issue. Consequently, more and more organizations are asking volunteers to pay for their own check. People with criminal records will most likely resign rather than disclose a crime. People who do not want to pay for a supplemental background check are most likely not that committed. Organizations can also pay for checks for those who demonstrate financial hardship.

Organizations that work with children should make it a terminable offense for any employee or volunteer to fail to disclose a crime of which they are accused while working with children. Child safety is a priority over a personal desire for privacy.

According to the Boys Scouts of America website, individuals who want to be adult volunteers should express their interest to the unit leaders of the organization (e.g., Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, crew Advisor, chartered organization representative, or members of the unit committee).

Whatever the procedures were in the past, Scouts now have background checks as part of its official youth protection training program and policies based on two-deep leadership concepts, including mandatory reporting. https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/524-501.pdf

For every organization working with children, a criminal background check and supplemental checks on all staff and volunteers is the first step. After that, every adult must always be observant of all other adults and participants to make sure youth protection policies are being strictly observed.

What are some inappropriate adult behaviors of which organizations should be aware?

  • The adult exhibits a desire to be with children or one child without other adults present;
  • The adult goes to great lengths to build trust with children and adults;
  • The adult encourages children to keep secrets;
  • The adult takes and collects images of children not related to them and without parental permission;
  • The adult refers to children in the same manner one would use for an adult lover or spouse;
  • The adult refers to children in angelic terms using descriptive words like innocent or pure, and other words that seem inappropriate and exaggerated;
  • The adult works on becoming indispensable to the parents as a babysitter or coach;
  • The adult showers particular children with attention, gifts, or trips.
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