Parents and guardians expect their children to be safe in the school environment. Making sure your faculty, staff, coaches, and volunteers are thoroughly vetted helps protect your students, people, and reputation. A potential offender can hide in plain sight, often appearing to be a trustworthy individual. Can worker screening protect a school from every instance of child sexual abuse? No, but it can be a significant part of a school's risk mitigation prevention strategy to protect students in its care.
By implementing a screening program, you can significantly decrease the likelihood that misconduct will occur. It also will demonstrate that your school has acted with reasonable care to select appropriate workers. Schools that have utilized screening to prohibit alleged perpetrators from serving or working with students will be in a better position to defend themselves in court—and protect their reputations—than schools that have not.
When starting a screening program, you should screen all existing faculty, staff, coaches, and volunteers, not just new ones. This provides a level playing field. Also, new staff members and volunteers might object less to background screening if they know that everyone is treated equally.
From a risk management perspective, it’s a good idea for schools to renew their criminal background checks for staff and regular volunteers at least every three to five years. Some screening providers provide the option to be alerted whenever an employee or volunteer is arrested, which can help fill the gap between criminal background checks.
Carefully screening all employees and anyone who will have regular contact with students before allowing them to work or volunteer in your school is one of the best ways to protect your school from incidents of abuse. Anyone who regularly volunteers as well as contractors such as coaches, part-time counselors, or others who are routinely on campus and interacting with students should be screened.
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