Youth and Adult MolestersPosted: September 30, 2008
Parks and Rec Business Magazine has a great article on background checks for adult volunteers of youth sports. It is a well written and well researched article that talks about an issue that is a common theme in many of my articles. The actions that people are taking only lull them into believing they are doing the right thing. In reality they are wasting time and money. The article Background Checks: Do they really get the job done? points out that most background checks are not going to find molesters.
What the article points out is no matter what an organization does, bad people are going to get through. In order to prevent this from happening, Parents must be involved in the process and keep their eye on the program and their children. Parents must make sure their child is never in a position where they can become a target. For an excellent discussion about this and a program to train kids see the Boy Scout of America program Guide to Safe Scouting. Several other sports organizations have developed similar programs.
From the Parent’s perspective you just can’t expect someone else to babysit your kids. No program whether sports oriented or program oriented is designed to work without the involvement of parents. The Boy Scouts of America requires the parent to agree to become involved when they sign their child up to be a scout. Dropping you children off and picking them up several hours later is a recipe for disaster both for you and your child.
For adult volunteers, be very wary of any parent who simply drops their kids off at your program. If you don’t know the parent, you will if something goes wrong and you won’t want too. The parents who sue are the ones who have no involvement in the program.
While investigating Boy Scout lawsuits I discovered one recurring theme. I boiled that analysis down to one simple question to determine whether or not a parent would sue for an injury to their child. The question? What is the name of the adult leader? If the parent answered Mr. Jones or Mr. Smith there was going to be a lawsuit. If the parents answered Bob or Jim then there was probably not going to be a lawsuit.
The difference was not the answer but how well the parents knew the person who was taking care of their kid and more importantly how well the parents were involved in the program. A parent who was involved in the program did not sue. Those parents knew how the program worked, invested their time in the program and were involved. Those parents knew the adult volunteer as a friend, as someone who invested their time and as such knew them by their first name.
Parents who were not involved did not understand the program, the work, the commitment the time it took adult volunteers to keep their child active and involved. Those parents were recognized more by their cars taillights because the only thing they saw was the parent driving away after dropping off the child.
Parents who are not involved or who do not understand the program are also the ones who will sue. They have no understanding of what the program is trying to accomplish or their understanding is superficial. They see a sports program as purely their child playing ball. They see the BSA or GSA as purely their child going camping. They have no concept of the time the volunteer invests. They do not understand the goals of the program and how those goals are achieved by the activity and not vice versa.
These parent’s kids are also the most likely to be molested because their parents are not around. A molester is looking for the kid that they can find alone. They stand out because they are out standing waiting to be picked up rather than being walked to their car by their parents.
Those programs can also be spotted by parents. Just as the victims are identified as being the ones left alone by parents, the problem adult volunteers are also alone. They seem to be the total and complete volunteer. They drive away or discourage help from other volunteers. They do not want help because it interferes with their ultimate goals.
Both types of people, children with no parental involvement and adults with no other parental involvement are possible problems.