Background checking is still the most effective method of screening out potential danger from church ministry. Yet, many church leaders still buy into these myths:
1. Everyone knows everyone in our church so checks aren’t essential. Statistics show that the majority of child abuse is caused by someone known to the child or the organization. Thinking you know everything about everyone, or even having a police officer attend your church, is not enough. Background checks uncover information you may not know about the people you allow to work with children.
2. You only need to run a background check once. If you only run a check once, you won’t have the latest information. It’s important to rescreen your staff and volunteers on a regular basis. Many insurance providers recommend annual screening.
3. All providers are the same. Be sure your criminal record information is owned and maintained by the provider. (Some companies purchase this information second hand.) While there is no single, national criminal database, a good source provider pulls from multiple court registries to offer comprehensive search options.
4. Background checks are expensive. Prices have become more competitive in recent years and many companies now offer a basic screening package for as low as $9 each. Be sure to find a provider that does not have hidden court access fees or annual renewal charges.
5. A state background check is all you need. A state background check only shows records from that one state. Research shows that people with a criminal record frequently move. A national database search is essential to truly know a person’s criminal history.
[Editor’s Note: April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to recognize that we each play a part in promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families in our communities. Learn more on the National Child Abuse Prevention Month website https://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/preventionmonth/ To honor this effort to protect children, Group is offering Shepherd’s Watch Premium membership for the price of Basic during the month of April. Call 800-447-1070 to join. Use discount code: SW14101]