A new start for school and sports


youth sports background checks
Photo courtesy of flickr user tncountryfan

Parents, like myself, all over the country are getting their kids ready for another school year. We buy supplies and clothes. We meet the teachers and then watch our children walk onto the bus or into the front door of the school with their new backpacks and shiny shoes. Does this sound familiar?

So what do we know about our child’s new teacher? We probably assume a lot. Many parents don’t even think about what kind of education and training the teacher possesses or what the teacher’s background is or if the teacher has a criminal history. Most of us assume that the school has asked those questions.

As we get into the swing of a new school year, the kids also get back into sports where many parents assume that their child’s youth sports coach, like their teacher, had training and the appropriate background check.

It seems illogical to imagine that anyone would want their child taught (supervised or coached) by someone without any training and without being screened. So when I read a recent news article that there’s new proposed legislation in California that would mandate background checks for volunteer coaches, I thought that was fantastic.

As I got to the end of the article I could not believe that the California Public Defenders Association is opposed to the new bill saying that requiring background checks would discourage parents from volunteering out of fear that minor offenses would be disclosed to their neighbors. Really?!

If the volunteer screening process is executed correctly, then there will be protocol regarding confidentially, which is emphasized several times in the National Alliance for Youth Sports Volunteer Screening Guidelines.

I believe that if an organization has volunteer training, program policies and a comprehensive screening process with disqualifiers in place and someone is still discouraged from volunteering – then good because that raises a big red flag that this individual might just have something more that they are worried about and probably shouldn’t be around children!

It’s better to scare off a potential volunteer with questionable motives than to sacrifice the safety of children just to make sure there are some warm bodies on the sidelines.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

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