Youth and Adult MolestersPosted: September 30, 2008 Filed under: Minors, Youth, Children | Tags: Background check, Boy Scout of America, Child, Recreation, Scout, Washington D.C. 2 Comments
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.
You are miss interpreting the law and a little confused about my article. Lawsuits are civil actions (Torts) based on an injury. Civil actions are suing to repair your car for an accident. Criminal actions are for violations of the law. Punching someone or speeding are criminal acts. Child molesters are charged with criminal charges.>>A lawsuit cannot put someone in jail.>>Don’t confuse parents who sue with parents who are mad because someone molested their child. You are correct most molester’s do get close to the family so they are trusted.>>I’ll try to do a better job in the future of differentiating between civil acts and criminal acts.
Jim,>>Parent’s with less involvement may be more likely to sue. I am not aware of any study that has proved this theory or not.>>I unfortunately was too close to a situation which was exactly the opposite. A parent who is very active in the Troop, feels confident to send their child away with another adult leader, calls this leader by their first name, has them over to dinner and other social occasions can still have their child fall prey to child molestors. Pedophiles count on that. They keep the parents close so they can keep the children closer. If they have earned the trust of the parent, then they have more access to the child.>The lawsuit is the least of the problem. In cases like this, why is there a statute of limitations? More lawsuits could have put this molestor away for more than 5 years. The child (or children) are going to deal with the abuse for the rest of their lives.>Just because a parent only drops their child off and picks them up does not mean they are more likely to sue or that they are more likely to have their child molested or injured. If a parent doesn’t have the time or concern to get involved with the troop, what is the answer … the child should not be involved in Scouting? I agree that the troop should not be a babysitter, but a child’s involvement in the troop is for the child. In an ideal world parent’s would be involced in all aspects of their childrens lives, but we know this is not the case in every family.>>The answer? I don’t know. Background checks only tell you so much. They may tell you nothing. Maybe this pedophile has never been caught or is only just starting to prey on the innocent. >>To borrow a phrase from a NYC commercial, “If you see something, say something”. Maybe it was just one occasion when you saw the boy alone with one of the adults, maybe he has been a family friend for years. Maybe others have seen the same thing. Mention it to the parents, other leaders. Question the adult involved. Ask the child. Just because you have known someone for years, they have always been “a great guy”, “he gives so much of his time to the troop”, do not let your guard down. Pedophiles are extemely skilled. They are planning their attack. They are trying to find the right child. The little signs that seem like nothing are really telling a bigger story. Adults entrusted with the care of children need to be diligent and remember that children are to be protected. Lawsuit??? Bring it on!>Thanks for reading,>Concerned for children in NY.