San Joaquin County, California is the latest community to be affected by sexual misconduct in youth sports. Per a report from The Record, the Stockton, California-based newspaper that serves the San Joaquin County, the county has had four cases of alleged or proven sexual abuse in the past month alone, all involving male coaches. The cases highlight the prevalence of sexual misconduct in youth sports—and the importance of thorough background checks and oversight in youth athletic organizations.
One case involved a track coach at Bear Creek High School who is alleged to have been sexually involved with an underage female student. Another involved the now-former volunteer wrestling coach for Franklin High School, Philip Maglaya, Jr., who will spend four years in prison after pleading guilty to numerous charges related to an inappropriate relationship that he had with a teen girl who attended Franklin.
The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the governing body for both public and private high school sports in California, requires all schools to conduct background checks on all coaches. CIF requirements include fingerprinting, criminal history checks, and certification courses through the governing body. These requirements apply to all coaching positions whether they are full-time, part-time, or volunteer. Schools can also choose to implement their own screening policies. Many require additional types of background screenings, including reference checks.
Nearly as important as the background check process is what happens after. Vetting coaches can help schools and athletic organizations to spot red flags, but what happens if the coach doesn’t have any red flags that might indicate misconduct or criminal behavior? Predicting, in this case, is harder than preventing.
A common strategy in youth sports organizations is to ramp up oversight policies to minimize the number of opportunities that coaches have to commit misconduct. One example in the Record article is the organization The First Tee, a youth development program that focuses on the game of golf. The First Tee prohibits coaches from having any one-on-one time with children, including in lessons or during transportation. Lessons are instead given in group settings, and parents are invited to observe.
The other piece of the puzzle is education. Teaching players and students to recognize misconduct or inappropriate relationships is important in these settings. At the Stockton Unified School District, teachers, coaches, and administrators are expected to provide students with resources and information about reporting any form of mistreatment.
At backgroundchecks.com, we make it easy for youth sports organizations to structure thorough background screening solutions for their coaches or volunteers. From criminal history to reference checks to employment verifications to drug testing, these checks can help schools, clubs, and youth sporting programs perform their due diligence in vetting coaches. To learn more about why background checks are so crucial for youth sports organizations, read our whitepaper.