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Misconceptions continue to threaten child safety

By Josh Opiola, Risk Management Director, 12/10/15, 9:45AM CST


Athlete safety expert (and proud hockey dad) sheds light on the two biggest affecting youth sports organizations

We can all attest that a great coach can change a kid's life.

However, the wrong coach can scar a child for life. And unfortunately, a growing number of predators are using youth sports to gain access to them.

How do we prevent this from happening?

Parents are becoming increasingly aware of the potential risks that come with sports participation. They’ve educated themselves to gain some “control” over injuries and injury prevention. Yet, we do know they will still happen (take the topic of concussions, for example).

When we talk about other types of risk associated with youth sports, such as abuse and neglect, we have the ability for even more control. But in order to assert it, we need to dispel the damaging misconceptions jeopardizing the wellbeing of youth sports organizations and their members.

Here, I've outlined two of the biggest.


“Yes, we background screen all of our coaches and it only costs two dollars!”

It’s something I hear all the time as Sport Ngin’s Risk Management Director.

Even worse…

“I’ll just do an internet search myself.”


“I already had our local police department run a check.”

Do you really want to entrust the safety of your athletes to a background check that costs less than a cup of coffee? Or to a 2-minute Google search? Even your local PD won’t be able to properly vet the folks entrusted with the safety of your children.

When it comes to the single most important obligation to our kids, too many organizations are still opting for “thrifty” over “thorough” – even though a comprehensive background check is one of the easiest things we can do to provide a healthy environment for our young athletes.

Comprehensive background screening, like the type provided by Verify, always includes:

Social Security Trace
Verifies name and DoB against the Social Security Number provided. This is used to help eliminate the possibility of false names and/or information. It also verifies your current address and identifies previous addresses. This is critical information used to determine the jurisdiction in which the background screening will be conducted.

National Criminal Search
Every reporting jurisdiction in the US Admin Office of Courts (AOC), Dept of Corrections (DOC), arrest records, all supplemental jurisdictional info, electronically accessible felonies and/or misdemeanors (from multiple databases).

Wanted foreign nationals, international sex offenders/traffickers, all high­ level criminal data provided by partner countries.

Local Criminal Record Search
State and/or county criminal record searches are performed to capture all misdemeanor and felony records. Based on address history, multiple county searches may be performed. As an important note, all of the county record searches are conducted on site in the appropriate courthouse.

Sex Offender Registry
Every state/county/jurisdiction in the US and territories (secondary sex offender search at state level to confirm).


Failure to include all of the above in your background screening process makes it all too easy for those convicted of wrongdoing in the past to gain access to your young athletes. 


Since youth and amateur sports organizations are all very different, there is no single program that will fit all of your program's specific needs.

That’s why it is incredibly important to review your current risk management programs with a properly trained attorney as well as an organization like Sport Ngin. This ensures the proper procedures are in place to provide the safest environment possible for your athletes.

FACT: 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by the time they're 18.
Are you following these steps to protect your athletes?

And while it’s true every risk management program should be tailored to each individual organization, no risk management program should be without:

  1. A dedicated risk management director
  2. Background screening and player safety training for ALL adults with direct access to athletes
  3. Clear and safe reporting structure for improper conduct
  4. Awareness education for volunteers
  5. Anything else your attorney, national governing body, and state suggests/mandates

Simply put, this is not the time for organizations to take short cuts. Especially when doing it the right way costs relatively little in terms of time and money.

What happens to my information during a background check?

With Sport Ngin Verify, all of the information collected for screening purposes (SSN, DoB, etc.) is encrypted and sent securely to the screening provider. At that point they will be conducting your background check. All of your information is held in the safest manner possible.

No one within Sport Ngin (or any other company) has access to your background check. Only authorized individuals within your organization will have access to your check. Sport Ngin collects applicant's authorization and disclosure for background screening only.

Need more help?

Josh and his team are available to answer your questions and provide an expert, objective review of your organization's current risk management program.

Schedule time to chat with a risk management expert right here.

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