Background Check Oversights Plague Kansas Youth Sports Leagues

By Michael Klazema on 11/24/2014

State law in Kansas doesn't require youth sports leagues to run any background checks on their coaches. And while some leagues are cautious and do run checks to make sure that their volunteers are safe and trustworthy, others are more cavalier with the safety of young kids.

Indeed, a recent case in Topeka involved a 37-year-old assistant softball coach who was arrested and charged with fondling a child younger than 16. In another case, this one in Wichita, a registered sex offender was allowed to work as an assistant coach. There is simply no state law in place in Kansas that would prohibit such an offender from volunteering with a private sports league.

Needless to say, the lack of protective state laws is something that needs to change. Coaches often spend as much unsupervised time with children as teachers do, if not more. It's nearly unheard of that a teacher is allowed to work with kids if they have not passed a background check. However, since most youth sports coaches are volunteers instead of full or even part-time employees, they are often allowed to slip through the cracks without any screening.

Until Kansas legislature takes charge and passes laws to protect children in these sports programs, though, parents have to be vigilant to make sure they are not entrusting their kids to someone not worthy of trust. How can this be done? For one thing, parents should make a point of getting to know their child's coach. They should come to practices every once in awhile, especially early on, and see how the coach interacts with kids. For instance, is the coach too 'hands on'? Such touchy feely behavior can often be a red flag, but it isn't the only one. Often, problems arise simply because coaches don't know where the appropriateness line lies for interacting with kids. The relationship between a coach and an athlete should be as formal as the relationship between teacher and student. That means that the coach should not be connecting with athlete on Facebook or other social media, and certainly shouldn't be texting your kid on a regular basis.

Of course, there are cases where the coach just wants to be friends with their athletes, and means nothing malicious by these behaviors. This becomes even more common as your child grows older and begins high school sports. Still, such informal communications are often a cause for concern and are something you should be wary of if your child plays youth sports. This is especially true if you live in a state like Kansas, where background checks for these volunteers aren't always required.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • March 22 Countrywide, states and local municipalities have committed to ban the box legislation, seeking to equalize opportunities in the job market for those with criminal histories.
  • March 22

    Thinking about becoming a firefighter? Here are some of the background check requirements you might face.

  • March 20

    Four Department of Commerce employees are out after their background checks resulted in security clearance denials. All four had worked high-ranking positions for months despite incomplete background checks.

  • 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.