Exchange Students will not be Protected from Criminal Host Families

By Michael Klazema on 4/18/2012

The US State Department was at first entertaining the idea of requiring host families to undergo background checks in order to protect students, but they have recently decided not to continue with those plans.  Due to budget restraints, the State Department feels it would be too much of an undertaking for states to put host families through checks.  It’s already difficult to find enough families willing to host the 30,000 high school exchange students visiting our country each year.  Adding the background check requirement would likely limit them even more.  Unfortunately though, dozens of cases of abuse, including sexual abuse, have been reported in host family situations.

Some districts do require a local or state background check, but none require a national check and so miss many crimes committed by hosts who have fled their original states.  One sponsor, in fact, was discovered to have a murder conviction on their record.  Many of the organizations who carry out the process of finding host families were found to be in noncompliance, having not gone through the proper procedures like checking references and normally did not offer checks through reputable companies like

It seems school districts and these organizations both should be concerned with checking databases like US Offender OneSEARCH to make sure a potential host is not a registered offender anywhere in the nation, or even US OneSEARCH which checks for criminal convictions records in multiple jurisdictions across all 50 states.  Although budget concerns are a big priority right now, there are affordable alternative for traditional background checks that can uncover criminal records fast and easy. It would be sad to think that the biggest impression our country leaves on a foreign exchange student might be such a terrible one because we chose not to take any steps to protect them.

About - - a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) - serves thousands of customers nationwide, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies by providing comprehensive screening services.  Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with an Eastern Operations Center in Chapin, S.C., is home to one of the largest online criminal conviction databases in the industry. For more information about backgroundchecks’ offerings, please visit


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