One way you can help prevent child sexual abuse within your organization is by screening out those at risk to cause harm—before they are hired or allowed to volunteer. The goal of your screening process should be to recruit and select skilled, qualified individuals for staff and volunteer positions, and to screen out individuals who have sexually abused children/youth, may be at risk to abuse, or may not be safe individuals.
The good news is that most organizations conduct some form of screening—and you may already have some screening and hiring processes in place. Our guidelines can help you ensure that you’re doing as much as possible to keep the children and youth in your care safe. This is especially important in situations where there is a potential for your staff and volunteers to have unmonitored access to minor children, including those who provide transportation to them.
Whether your organization is a large corporation with hundreds of employees, a program with few staff, or a small sole proprietorship, you can implement an effective screening program to protect children. Not every screening method we describe will necessarily apply to your program. Though some organizations have licensing or accreditation standards that outline specific screening requirements, many do not. You can use these as guidelines to help you adopt the best possible screening practices for your environment and risk level. What’s important is that you incorporate some level of applicant screening into your program and treat it as a mission-critical business practice and thoughtful management technique. Screening is not discretionary; it’s vital to a program like yours that serves children and youth.
Screening doesn’t refer to a single event or tool, but more to a process with multiple components—some that occur as you consider a potential applicant for employment or volunteer service, some that apply after an individual joins your organization, and some that can recur periodically during their employment or tenure. Your screening requirements must be outlined clearly and accurately in your policies and procedures. Keep in mind that the very existence of a screening policy can be a deterrent to individuals who would rather be employed or volunteer in an organization with weak or nonexistent screening practices, so that they can access and harm children and youth.
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