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951Re: [Ayreton] Re: Background checks for Youth people

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  • Andrew Otto
    Apr 18 8:29 PM
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      I am a Boy Scout and Girl Scout leader. I am a trainer's trainer for youth protection training in the Scouts (lotsa trains there). I also wrote the youth protection guidelines for my church. As a "so called expert" on this, I can give y'all some insight into institutional youth protection and why it is just common sense.
      First of all, where there are groups of kids, there are likely to be child abusers. It's like asking Jesse James "why do you rob banks?". His answer is simply, "That's where the money is." Abuse is not limited to sexual abuse, it also include physical and mental abuse.
      So how do institutions protect children? By putting up barriers to abuse and abusers. The SCA background check will be an important first step in keeping the kids safe. Running an inexpensive background check eliminates a large chunk of the potential abusers. Abusers who have criminal sexual abuse records are not likely to join organizations that require background checks. Believe it or not, the Boy Scouts still gets occasional "failed" reports, even though the applicant knows he has a record.
      These checks are not onerous, SCA would make an agreement with a background checking company. That agreement would give guidelines for passing or failing an applicant; usually a 49-state sexual offenders database check, and a verification of identity. Most times the companies charge $10.00 or less for not-for-profits to get pass/fail reports. Along with a $10 or $15 fee, the adult would have to provide name, address, phone, and SSN to the background checking company. These firms are bonded and insured against fraud, identity theft and other SSN abuses.
      The second item is building barriers to abuse and false accusation. Enforcing the rules that stipulate no one-on-one contact between youth and adults is critical. Appendix A of the Seneschal's Handbook discusses this, but in short there should never be a time when a youth is alone with a non-parent adult. If it is important to talk to a youth privately, just take them out of earshot, but where both of you can still see them. Non parent adults and youth should not share dressing areas, sleeping accommodations, even one-on-one in a car should be avoided. The policies take away the opportunity for abusive adults to abuse children.
      Barriers to non-sexual abuse are just as important. Corporal punishment of any kind by a non-parent is not appropriate. This does not mean that you cannot break up a fight and move a youth out of harm's way. Verbal abuse either from youth or adults is, at the least, not chivalrous. Again, this does not mean that taunting your opponent is disallowed (although period taunts should be encouraged). Hazing should be banned, and there should be no secret societies or rituals for youth.
      The youth have to be taught the rules of the two-deep, no one-on-one "buddy system". No youth goes anywhere without a buddy (there are some technicalities concerning gender, age difference, etc...). This means that kids do not wander off alone. If they get lost we have not one but two extra servings at feast!
      We need to teach the adults, both youth-serving and non how to deal with reports by youth of abuse. Quick aside: in Illinois, those people working with children are known as madated reporters. This means that if an adult suspects abuse or allegations of abuse are disclosed they must report the allegation or suspicion to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. If you do not report, you could be held liable. The report is anonymous and confidential.
      As we have more youth participating, and this a joyous thing, we have to be more careful to keep everyone safe. 
      Thank you for reading my rambling
      In Service
      Angus Fraser (Andy Otto)


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