Employees and volunteers are important assets within the ministry. While they can be beneficial in performing the mission of the organization, the wrong individuals can bring about detrimental consequences.
Parents often entrust the safety of their children with the church. If a child is ever harmed by an employee or volunteer, the child and the church will suffer. Such crimes create emotional, financial and legal problems and bring shame to the organization. It is for this reason that background checks should be conducted on every employee and volunteer who works with, or has contact with, children or youth.
When completing a background check, an applicant may have offenses on his or her record. It is then up to the church’s discretion whether to continue with this potential employee or volunteer. When making this decision, it is important to consider the following offenses:
- Failure to disclose criminal history;
- Pending charges;
- Adjudicated cases.
With adjudicated cases, take into consideration if the person has been convicted or sentenced for any of the following offenses:
- Criminal homicide;
- Aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon;
- Rape or sexual assault;
- Kidnapping or unlawful restraint;
- Other crimes of violence;
- Harassment or stalking;
- Indecent assault;
- Indecent exposure;
- Endangering or injuring the welfare of a child;
- Involuntary deviate intercourse;
- Felonies related to prostitution, obscene, and other sexual material or performances;
- Offenses involving corruption of minors, including child prostitution and child pornography;
- Sexual abuse of a child;
- Non-remote convictions involving theft or alcohol or drug offenses; or
- Crimes going against the mission of the organization.
Contacting the local school district and other organizations that work with youth also may be helpful in identifying offenses that disqualify an individual from working with children.
Always remember to keep facts about a potential employee or volunteer confidential. Information should only be given to the individual(s) making the selection decision and kept confidential in the applicant’s file.
Churches always strive to keep their youth safe and protect the church’s employees, leaders, and the organization as a whole. Completing recommended background checks can assist in this goal and help in preventing negative publicity or civil and criminal proceedings.