This past summer, the Amateur Athletic Union announced mandatory background screening for all adult coaches, volunteers and staff as well as stricter guidelines for how to interact with children. And earlier this week it was reported that of the 27,000 people they screened, 150 had issues that according to the AAU “could prove to be problematic for AAU membership.”
Now, opponents of employment background checks would argue that a 0.5% “hit rate” represents a needle in the haystack and proves that employers really don’t need to engage in this practice. They would tell you that employers and their background screening companies trot out the worst examples of violent activity and crimes of abuse that could occur in the workplace and over-exaggerate their prevalence.
I would counter by saying that .05% does seem like a small amount. I’d say that means that the AAU was smart to recognize that there was a problem. I’d also say that it took courage to publicly commit to these checks and report their findings. Prevent Child Abuse America’s CEO, Jim Hmrovich suggests that children who are abused are left with scars for the rest of their lives. In many cases, they become non-productive members of society whether due to dropping out of school, drug abuse and, or criminal activity. Even worse, many who are abused actually become abusers. Because of AAU’s efforts, 150 people that could ruin children’s lives will no longer be able to do so by preying on this organization and the children it has an obligation to protect.
So, getting to the crux of the issue, .05% is a small number. But does that small number mean anything to a child or their family when they become a victim of that .05%? Take a look at former National Hockey League players Theo Fluerry and Sheldon Kennedy and tell me that it would have mattered to them. Both were abused by coaches at a young age and suffered for years as a result (note that neither were abused in an AAU program).
Check out Sheldon Kennedy’s story below.