Guest Column - April 2006
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Forward Thinking on Background Checks

Association Guest Column: National Alliance For Youth Sports

By Sarah Christy

When it comes to background checks, determining disqualifiers also can be confusing. The following should disqualify a potential volunteer from working with children:

  • Any sort of abuse or assault/battery—physical or sexual
  • Rape
  • Any crime of a sexual nature, including possession or dissemination of pornography
  • Homicide or manslaughter in any degree
  • Attempted murder
  • Domestic violence
  • Child neglect
  • Felony drug crimes
  • Animal cruelty
  • Theft/robbery
  • Forgery/fraud
  • Kidnapping
  • Arson
  • Weapons violations
  • Any crime, misdemeanor or felony, involving children as either an accomplice or victim

Although background checks are an important part of screening, Engh reminds organizations that they are only one part and suggests adopting a comprehensive screening process that also includes the training of youth sports volunteers, such as coaches, parents, administrators and officials; reference checking; and interviewing applicants. (See sidebar for a suggested screening process.)

All things considered, screening your potential youth sports volunteers is a win-win for everyone involved, and with a little education about the subject, there's no reason every youth sports organization shouldn't be making this a priority.

"The practice of background screening protects our vulnerable society, resources, nonprofit organizations, churches and sporting associations alike," Aldrich says. "Knowing your volunteers creates efficiencies and secures the safety of our organizations and other volunteering members."


Sarah Christy is the public-relations director at the National Alliance For Youth Sports, which has been training coaches, parents, administrators and officials for 25 years to ensure positive youth sports. For more information, visit