Kentucky Considering Background Checks for Camp Workers

By Michael Klazema on 11/2/2016

Kentucky's House Task Force on Child Abuse and Exploitation Prevention is currently mulling several different proposals, including one that could demand background checks for camp personnel. Per a report from WLKY, a Kentucky news station based in Louisville, the task force assembled on the morning of Tuesday, October 25th to hear proposals from state officials.

Attorney General Andy Beshear proposed legislative changes at the meeting, all with the stated goal of improving child safety and welfare in Kentucky. Prominent among these was a proposal to change Kentucky's current law regarding youth-serving camps that operate in the state. Under the current law, camp employees and counselors are not required to undergo background checks. Beshear wants background checks for all camp employees.

To support his proposal, Beshear pointed to studies that suggest one-third of people who seek positions at summer camps have a red flag on their background checks that might disqualify them from working with children. Beshear argued that, if this statistic holds true in Kentucky, a huge number of camp counselors or staff members could pose a danger to the kids they are in charge of supervising. "We don't even check," he concluded. "It's not required."

The proposal to require background checks for all people who work or volunteer at youth-serving camps was just the start of Beshear's presentation. The Attorney General wants a "comprehensive" plan in place to protect kids. According to statistics presented to the Task Force on Child Abuse and Exploitation Prevention, 73,102 children were "involved in reports of child abuse and neglect" in 2015 alone. Beshear believes his proposals could help to cut down on that number.

In addition to the camp background check plan, Beshear pitched the following ideas to the task force:

1.           Create a registry through which schools and parents can run background checks on prospective teachers or childcare providers.

2.           Make it illegal for registered sex offenders to be on the premises of public playgrounds.

3.           Put people convicted of promoting human trafficking on the registered sex offender list.

4.           Require all public schools to post and prominently display the human trafficking hotline number.

5.           Require all public schools to implement "age-appropriate" education about human trafficking and sexual abuse.

The task force said that it would discuss and research each of the ideas presented. Another meeting is scheduled for late November, at which point task force members might express their interest in turning some of these proposals into actual legislation.



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