Last week’s news about child sexual abuse by a former Penn State University football coach made national headlines and stirred emotions everywhere about the seriousness of child abuse by those with whom we trust our children.
Former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested on 40 counts stemming from sexual misconduct with eight male victims over the course of several years. Sandusky allegedly found the victims through his own foundation, The Second Mile, which he started to help underprivileged boys in Centre County, PA. While Sandusky has never been arrested or convicted of a crime, the sordid details of the investigation — and a possible cover-up by those who knew and worked with Sandusky at the university — has made sports teams, recreational leagues, foundations that serve children and countless other organizations and businesses take a closer look at how they handle background checks of coaches, volunteers, staff members and anyone else who comes into contact with the children under their care. It’s absolutely imperative for such organizations to check sex offender registries and search for the criminal records of any prospective employee, coach or volunteer.
Background checks for such businesses and nonprofits have largely been in place for some time now, but a case like Sandusky’s brings into sharp focus the diligence such organizations must have in the protection of the children they serve.