Why Bother with Volunteer Background Checks?

A youth sports organization is responsible for the safety and well-being of their players. That doesn’t just mean they have to provide the best available gear (like helmets and pads) to their players, as well as ensure safe and properly maintained playing fields (although those are definite musts!), but it also means taking responsibility for the coaches and volunteers working with the players. Who are the people volunteering for your sports organization? Can they be trusted with the health and safety of your youth athletes?

Volunteer background checks are an absolute must for any youth sports organization!

A terrifying statistic about child abuse found that only 5% of sexual abuse is perpetrated by a stranger. That means that friends, family members and acquaintances are far more likely to be the culprit. Youth sports organizations have the ability and duty to protect their players from abuse and it starts with volunteer background checks.

What does a volunteer background check actually do?

  • Social Security Number Verification, used to make sure person is who they say they are
  • National Criminal File Search, which searches a database of 200 million criminal records, compiled from many sources including:
    • Fugitive files and government watch lists
    • Sexual and violent offender registries
    • State and county criminal record repositories
    • State departments of corrections

Most volunteer background checks focus on criminal activity, but some screening companies will look at a variety of other data to get a more complete picture of the individual including:

  • Employment history
  • Department of Motor Vehicles check
  • Civil court actions
  • “Deadbeat parent” registries
  • Military history
  • Drug and alcohol test results
  • Immigration records

Youth sports organizations and coordinators should act as a buffer between players and the outside world. Obviously you can’t protect your players from every potential danger out there, whether it is a car accident, illness or even just falling off their bike, but your organization should strive to make your athletes’ involvement with your organization as safe as possible. The easiest way to do that is to know who is working with the kids.