[Ansteorra] protecting children

ChuckandRhonda Leggett poppabrick at yahoo.com
Tue May 15 11:10:11 PDT 2007

Background checks are a good start to lessening the
chances for abuse against minors. The checks are good
for 2 yrs. It's the same with scouts and 4-H and youth
camps. It checks specifically for crimes committed
against minors. Nothing more and no information is
shared so you will not know what the person was
accused or convicted of, only that there was some
occurrence of that nature in the past. Credit scores,
traffic violations, drug arrests, thefts, nothing more
will be investigated. 

The good and bad of the background check and 2 deep
1. anyone who has ever been convicted of such crimes
will not consent to the check so will not be serving
in a position to directly supervise children. However,
this will not be a guarantee the person is trustworthy
with the children. There is always the chance they
just haven't been caught. 

2. Speaking from experience, it is difficult to get
adults to volunteer even to teach a short class to a
group of children at events. There are just too many
other things competing for their attention at events.
Is is fair to require a parent to volunteer X amount
of time to children's activities if the parent is
cooking feast, running the list, nobility, etc. They
rarely have time to devote to helping with children's
activities but often have children who want to
Is it fair to refuse to include those children in the
activity if their parent/s cannot volunteer to help? 
A couple might be able to trade off time but if the
parent is single there will not be another to trade
off duties with. So do we penalize single parents?

3. Without requiring ALL volunteers working with
children (whether officers or just a parent able to
assist last minute) to pass a background check there
will still be a possibility for predators to work with
the children. But requiring ALL to pass a background
check gets to be a pain. It's done for 4-H and
scouting but at least for 4-H the parent/volunteer
pays for the check and is never allowed to drive or
supervise or assist with ANY official activity until
they have passed. This can cut down on the number of
volunteers who are able to work with the kids. Some
folks with nothing to hide have been hesitant to
consent to a background check. They didn't trust there
would not be more information solicited than just the
criminal aspect and they didn't always trust the
information would be kept confidential. Others were
homeschooling and did not want any evidence brought to
light they had children not enrolled in area schools.
It is a concern in some states where homeschoolers are
required to register with the school district. These
same folks finally consented to and passed the
criminal background check so their reluctance had
nothing to do with past criminal convictions. 

4. Setting a requirement for the number of children
supervised by each adult helps with camp activities
I've found. You have more adults present so even if 1
adult takes a group of kids to the bathroom there are
usually a couple more present to watch the others. But
you still have 1 adult alone with a group of kids at
the bathroom, a place with potential for privacy.
Nothing's foolproof. 

5. Requiring a parent be present for any and all
activity that does not have the 2 deep presence does
not work well. I tried to form a youth guild but since
it would be myself and husband and children only, I
required parents to stay. It never worked out. Parents
were too busy no matter the day of the week the guild
met or the time of the meeting. You will end up
without children's activity of any sort or without
families. It's hard to keep kids interested if you are
working gate or cooking, or fighting, etc. They will
not be happy, you wil lnot be happy, and either family
attendance/membership will drop or the number of folks
volunteering to cook, run lists, etc. will drop. 

6. If the children are with a single parent and the
parent is fighting in a tournament and the parent has
designated someone to look after the child...is the
child still in the constant presence of the parent? If
something happens to the child while under the care of
a parent appointed babysitter, is the SCA liable if
that person did not have a background check?

My point with the rambling is there is just NO
SUBSTITUTE for parental responsibility and vigilance.
NONE, NOHOW, NOWAY. Get to know the person your child
is spending time with. Before your child spends time
alone with them. Predators wear no badges and have no
identifying marks. Often it is a trusted family member
or close friend who abuses a child. Be suspicious of
everyone no matter how great they seem or how
trustworthy. Predators often gain the trust of the
parents before making their move on the children.
Teach your children it is not okay for ANYONE to touch
them in ways or areas that make them uncomfortable
physically or emotionally. Communicate often with your
child. Know your child. Often some subtle behavioral
change will indicate something's not right. The child
may no longer be interested in participating in
previously enjoyed activities or being in the presence
of that person. Teach your child it is okay to tell
secrets and that you will do your best to see no one
will harm them or you or anyone else in your family if
they tell. 

No rule is foolproof and there is no substitute for
good parenting. 


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