Boy Scouts Warning: Don’t Rely on Background Checks to Find Sex Offenders


Most youth-serving organizations rely on criminal background checks to filter out applicants with sex offenses, but Michael Johnson of the Boy Scouts of America wrns that the idea they are a “be-all, end-all — is a big, humongous mistake,” reports Youth Today. Speaking at a child-abuse conference in Kennesaw, Ga., Johnson said background checks include only arrests and convictions.

“The vast majority of offenders who are actively sexually abusing haven't been arrested and haven't been convicted, so criminal background checks are very limited in what that information can provide you,” he said. Resources provided by organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, he said, were likely the best places for youth service providers to turn to for information on background checks and standards pertaining to sex offenders. Other common protective measures include leadership selection, interviews, reference checks and the monitoring of staffer and volunteer behavior. Inter-organization sharing of “ineligible volunteer” files, Johnson said is an emerging — albeit controversial — practice.

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