Why Volunteers Must be Thoroughly Screened

Research shows that sexual abuse and boundary violations happen in all sports and at all levels. Youth sport activities present an ideal environment for volunteer coaches and other adult volunteers who fail to recognize adult-child sexual boundaries or who are at a high risk for having sexually abused a child in the past.

The Diana Screen for Youth SportsFacts & Figures

  • According to the National Council on Youth Sports, over 7 million adults volunteer in youth sports, including 2.5 million who are coaches.
  • Children in youth sports programs can be vulnerable because training often involves specific, physical contact with the body. Coaches teach youth athletes how to stand, move, and react. This can lower a physical boundary that remains lowered even when the lessons are non-physical.
  • Some youth sports programs require changing clothes, states of undress, showering and overnight travel which can increase risks for children.
  • Coaches are considered authority figures who athletes are taught to respect. Kids who disobey are reprimanded and sometimes cast aside. Kids who follow every order are favored and rewarded.
  • When a coach takes a special interest in an athlete most parents perceive it as a good sign rather than as a potential red flag. If the child loves being on the team and around the coach or authority figure, the parent often feels better, not worse, about extra time outside the home.

How often do boundary violations occur in youth-serving programs?

  • At two, multi-state, youth-serving agencies, organization records indicated four official reports of boundary violations by staff over a six-month period.
  • However, in an anonymous survey by Abel Screening, Inc., staff indicated knowledge of 487 boundary violations over the same period.

Boundary violations occur quite frequently and are most often not reported, putting children and teens in youth-serving programs at continued risk.

In addition, an estimated 6% of adults have a sexual interest in children. These adults apply in greater numbers to work and volunteer with children. In addition, some adults fail to recognize adult-child sexual boundaries and/or are permission givers who fail to respond appropriately to incidences of sexual misconduct.

These adults:

  • Hide their sexual interest in children and teens
  • Often fail to protect the children and teens in their care
  • Are equally represented in every socio-economic group and every religion
  • Can’t be detected simply by interviewing them

Without proper screening, adults like these may be hired on as coaches, youth athletic directors, or members of the coaching staff. When placed in positions of authority these individuals represent a clear danger to the youth they manage and the institutions who employ them.

Background Checks Aren’t Enough

Because only 6% of child sexual abuse is ever reported to the police, background screens are largely ineffective at identifying individuals who may have already sexually abused a child. In fact, ChoicePoint reported looking at over 3.5 million background checks and finding only 0.2% that could be identified as sexual offenders.

The Diana Screen®

In contrast to background screens, The Diana Screen® does not rely on public records or criminal histories. The Diana Screen® methodology provides much more effective results. AdThe Diana Screen for Youth Sportsministered to job applicants and volunteers, The Diana Screen® is a child safety screen that helps identify adults who fail to recognize adult-child sexual boundaries or who are at a high risk for having sexually abused a child in the past. Because The Diana Screen® does not rely on public records or criminal histories, it does a better job of helping to screen out those individuals who may detract from the safety and welfare of the children in an organization. The Diana Screen® is dramatically more effective than criminal background checks in protecting children and teens against this risk.

Using The Diana Screen® accomplishes the following:

  • Helps identify men and women who are most likely to cross sexual boundaries with youth, it helps reduces the risk of adult on child sexual misconduct
  • Acts as a deterrent
  • Helps agencies select the safest adults to work with children by forming a safer pool of prospective hires and volunteers

For more information about The Diana Screen® or the Abel Screening, Inc. line of Child Protection Products, please Contact Us or call at 1.800.806.2235.

For a list of sources supporting the information on this page, go to References.