Youth Groups Need Policies Beyond Local Background Checks to Protect Kids

By Michael Klazema on 7/10/2013

Two former coaches of Duluth Salvation Army youth groups have been charged with sexual assault in the past 13 months, a situation which has left many local parents wondering how to best protect their kids from potential predators.

Most local youth groups use criminal background checks to screen coaches, pastors, mentors, and various volunteers who work with kids in their programs. However, as a representative of the First Witness Child Advocacy Center in Duluth points out, sometimes these background checks only cover the state or local areas. Naturally this is not sufficient to detect all criminal behavior that took place in the past in places where the individual might have lived, worked or travelled.

Employers would do better to supplement traditional local county searches with a nationally focused criminal background check tool such as the US OneSEARCH from This product enables employers to search an individual’s name and date of birth against a database of over 450 million records collected from state and local sources around the country. It also includes a check of the offender registries in all states. The US OneSEARCH delivers almost instant results, which would help youth groups properly vet even last-minute staff.


Identifying potential predators before they commit any crimes is virtually impossible, according to David Nolle, Scout Executive and CEO of the Voyageurs Area Council. Experts have advised him that there is no reliable profile for a child abuser. Fortunately, youth groups can help reduce the risk of an incident of child molestation or abuse occurring on their watch by adopting policies that will prevent predators from having any opportunities to be alone with kids. For example, The First Witness Child Advocacy Center in Duluth recommends that all youth groups adopt a policy forbidding adults from spending time one-on-one with kids, on or off the clock. So, for example, a mentor could not have a tutoring session with a child in a private room or give that child a ride home afterwards.

The Voyageurs Area Council employs a similar “barriers to abuse” policy which prevents an adult from soloing with youth. Nolle also said that kids in his organization’s youth groups are taught to watch out for abusers and protect themselves using the three R’s: recognize that any adult could be an abuser, resist any inappropriate advances, and report abuse to another adult.

Running a background check is just part of a youth organization’s responsibility to the local community that they serve. It prevents them from unwittingly exposing kids to a known child abuser or person unsuitable to work with minors due to past criminal behavior such as violent crimesor drug related offenses. However, no background check can predict the future, especially when individuals have no prior history of criminal activity. That’s when smart policies and education are needed.


Founded during the Internet boom in 1999 by an executive in both the staffing and information industry, – a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – has been able to create a service that provides a blend of flexible screening programs that included instant, cost effective and comprehensive solutions. Our experience in database modeling of public records information has led to become the leader in the acquisition and delivery of public records information by harnessing the power and technology of the Internet. To learn more visit



Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • March 15 As more states legalize the recreational use of cannabis, they contend with the emergence of new industries surrounding marijuana cultivation and production. 
  • March 14 In most cases, it is easy to determine where an issue might show up on a pre-employment background check. Citations for traffic violations or reckless driving charges will appear on a motor vehicle record check. Verdicts in a civil court case will show on a civil court background check. And criminal convictions—from petty theft to violent felonies—show up on criminal background checks.
  • March 13 How many years back do employment background checks go? This question can have multiple different answers depending on the situation.
  • March 13 A new bill in Florida would require landlords of apartment complexes to present tenants with verifications of employee background checks to give them peace of mind the people working in and around their homes are trustworthy.
  • March 08 Police officers working with the University of Texas at Arlington recently arrested a man who had avoided police capture on a warrant out of Oregon for nearly two decades. The man, whose real name is Daniel Charles Ray Hanson, spent those 17 years using a variety of fake names and identification documents to move around the country, often engaging with educational institutions under false pretenses. Police say Hanson regularly went by at least three different aliases. He sports a rap sheet that stretches back to an arson conviction in 1995. 
  • March 07

    The Future of EEOC Guidance in Texas Is Up in the Air

    The EEOC issued guidance in 2012 warning employers about the dangers of enforcing categorical policies to bar candidates with criminal histories. That guidance is not enforceable in Texas thanks to a recent court ruling.

  • March 05 Vermont is the latest state to restrict employers’ access to and use of social media accounts of employees and applicants. 
  • March 01 In an age of "industry disruptors" turning established business models on their heads, companies such as Uber and Lyft rely on a unique workforce of individuals outside the traditional employer-employee context. Uber calls them "partners" while other businesses refer to them as "independent contractors," the official classification these individuals use for tax purposes. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) revealed they had warned a business, Postmates, for misclassifying their staff as independent contractors. In the NLRB's determination, these individuals were employees.
  • February 27 Governor Asa Hutchinson signed House Bill 2216 which amends the employer’s directives regarding a current or prospective employee’s social media account.
  • February 23 A Texas summer camp is in the spotlight after an unflattering investigation from a local news channel. The case has some parents asking what they can do to vet summer camp programs before enrolling their kids.