The headlines on the Jerry Sandusky trial are a clear indication that there needs to be more than background checks in order to protect children from predators. For those not familiar with the case, Sandusky is the former Penn State assistant football coach who is currently facing 52 counts tied to what prosecutors say was his sexual abuse of at least 10 boys over a span of 15 years. The state says Sandusky met many of his alleged victims through The Second Mile, a charity for underprivileged youths that he founded.
Avoiding the hiring of someone with a criminal record that could pose a threat to your company or your employees is one thing. But catching a criminal is another, and a background check doesn’t always reveal one. Sandusky, though his trial is ongoing and he hasn’t been convicted of any crime yet, had no criminal record leading up to this recent arrest.
Last week the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), one of the nation’s largest volunteer sports organizations, announced aggressive actions to implement the measures put forth by two independent task forces. The first steps include requiring that all adults involved in AAU activities – from volunteer coaches to AAU staff – undergo detailed background checks. The second is adopting clear policies and procedures designed to ensure that young athletes are never left alone with individual adults. And the third step is requiring all AAU volunteers and staff to report any incidents of suspected child abuse to law enforcement and to officials of the AAU and related sports clubs.
The action was prompted after child sexual abuse allegations were lodged against an ex-president of the group, according to news reports. In total, there are 42 recommendations for changes in AAU policies, procedures and protocols, all designed to make young athletes safer. The recommendations cover six broad subject areas: culture, protocols, screening, participation, training and reporting.
The fact that screening, employment screening and volunteer screening, is only part of the recommendations is a good indication that every employer and every organization across all industries should have a multi-tiered system in place for preventing – or at least catching — such abuse.