Conducting an employment check is necessary for any type of job and especially important for positions that allow time alone with your child. We’ve all heard the national headlines of countless teachers who have mentally, physically, and sexually abused our children and got away with it for years. Some of these people were able to remain in the school system even though they had a record.
How could this possibly happen? Well, the background screening was insufficient. Up until recently, many states have simply required a background check from the police department over the span of five years. Other places may have done a more thorough background check within state’s records and vital statistics offices, but the check only covered that state.
Perhaps even more mind-blowing, employers don’t require the current employees to have continual employment checks, so someone who has worked at a school or recreational place may go without a screening for years. Furthermore, employment-screening guidelines were virtually nonexistent 20 years ago compared to the type of national records databases available on the Internet today.
States like Florida have mandated strict criteria for anyone that encounters public schools under the Jessica Lunsford Act of 2005. Laws were designed to severely punish sex offenders. Since then, over 42 states have followed Florida’s footsteps with strict regulations for sex offenders. The act includes guidelines for volunteering and employment screening in public schools. Even if you are just refilling the vending machines, you must pass a thorough employment check and register it with the school board in order to be allowed on the school grounds.
However, what about the afterschool activities? Is your little league coach or cheerleading coach screened for inappropriate behavior? Sadly, this is not always the case. Take the most recent allegations of swim coach Andy King in San Jose, California. King was charged with inappropriate behavior on June of 2009 going all the way back to the 1970s.
What do you do to protect your child? You ask the organization what kind of employment check they do on their employees and volunteers. Find out if they have a policy about one adult left alone with the children. See when they started doing background screenings and if they extend this to current employees.
If you don’t feel that the screening is good enough look somewhere else. Otherwise, your best bet is to conduct your own employment check.
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