Ohio State University is joining the ranks of the many schools that have finally put into place official rules requiring background checks on all employees and volunteers who work with children on university property.
This step probably seems like plain old common sense. But in businesses like colleges and universities, where most of the individuals served by the staff are over 18, administrators and officials might not think of the need to protect children right away.
For OSU, the need to protect children relates to their overnight youth camps, 4H programs, and child care service. Only individuals involved with these 660 or so programs will be subjected to background checks. These checks will consist of fingerprinting from the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation plus the completion of Statement of Non-Conviction forms from the state Department of Job and Family Services.
OSU is setting a good example for other employers by making these background checks recur at set intervals through an employee’s tenure. The criminal background check will be repeated every four years, and the Non-Conviction forms will be filled out annually. If an employee leaves the university or is a seasonal worker, they will have to complete the background check process each time they are rehired for a position involving children.
OSU’s background check policy will apply to employees and volunteers alike. Even volunteers who are minors will have to complete the background check process prior to working with children. Of course, special precautions will have to be taken when investigating minors, including obtaining parental consent for the background checks.
One additional precaution that OSU should perhaps consider adding to its background check policy is the use of a tool like Ongoing Criminal Monitoring from backgroundchecks.com. Such a tool provides automatic email advisories to employers whenever new information gets added to an individual’s record in the database. This could help protect against the possibility of an employee passing the initial background check, but then getting charged with a crime soon after hiring and therefore potentially posing a danger to the children they work with. Without Ongoing Criminal Monitoring, employers wouldn’t know about the charges until they ran their next scheduled background check, or, even worse, until the charges showed up in the local paper.
Some OSU students expressed surprise that OSU did not already have a background check process in place. After all, it has been several years since the Sandusky scandal at Penn State rocked the university sports community with its allegations of over a decade of child abuse perpetrated on university property by a coach. The coach in question, Jerry Sandusky, was convicted of 45 counts of abuse in June.
A recent alleged incident in Drackett Tower on OSU campus may have contributed to the decision to roll out the background check policy. The incident took place in July and involved two minors participating in a youth wrestling camp. Though neither minor was affiliated with OSU, it no doubt brought home the need to ensure kids are protected when attending OSU camps and programs.
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Author: Michael Klazema
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments