Groups, churches remain vigilant
Background checks, other policies aim to keep kids safe
Guarding against sexual abuse has become a matter of vigilance for churches and organizations that involve children.
"It's just something we're constantly trying to get better at," said Debbie Haycock, risk manager for the Utah Youth Soccer Association.
UYSA does criminal background checks on coaches and administrators and has just implemented the policy for referees as well. It discourages coaches from driving players to and from practice. If a player needs a ride, it advises coaches to have at least one other person in the vehicle.
"It's never a one-on-one situation, ever," Haycock said.
Haycock concedes it's hard to account for every situation, but "this is something we're trying to really be proactive on," she said.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' policies to protect children from physical and sexual abuse have evolved over the years. Most recently it required youth Sunday School classes to be taught by two adults rather than one.
Incidents of sexual abuse often come to the attention of a bishop first. The church established a hotline that leaders may call for legal advice regarding their obligation to report disclosures to authorities. Bishops are also taught to persuade abusers to take responsibility for their actions, including going to police.
The church voluntarily tracks members who have perpetrated on children. A confidential annotation in their membership records alerts bishops to not place them in situations with children.
The Catholic Church in 2002 adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. In it, bishops vow to do everything in their power to create a safe environment for children. It also establishes a review board to advise bishops when allegations of child sexual abuse arise.
The Salt Lake Diocese board comprises 11 mostly lay members, including people with backgrounds in psychology, law enforcement, education, social services and the judicial system.
The diocese also requires those who have regular contact with minors to have a criminal background check, complete an online training course and be familiar with its safe environment policies.
The Boy Scouts of America has what it calls a Youth Protection program.
"The focus is training for youth and adults, background checks and situational policies that help prevent environments where individual youth and adults are alone together," said John Gailey, Utah National Parks Council spokesman.
Adult leaders must complete a registration form that is used to conduct a background check. Those who have a history of sex crimes are denied membership.Scouts are taught to use the buddy system, including when meeting with a merit badge counselor. Adults are required to have "two-deep leadership" to ensure they are never alone with a child.
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