Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Child Safety And Background Checks

By Aaron Earls

The man serving snow cones at your Vacation Bible School is a convicted sex offender. That was the news Bill Jones had to deliver to one of the pastors in his association.

The pastor came to Jones after learning a volunteer, who had been a "model church member" for two years, may have had a criminal record.

"[The pastor] asked if I would do a background search, as I often do for our smaller churches that cannot afford it themselves," said Jones, executive director of the Neches River Baptist Association in Crockett, Texas. The report did confirm a sex offense conviction.

That Texas church was one of nearly 5,000 churches and religious organizations that have used through a relationship with LifeWay Christian Resources over the past five years. During that time, more than 84,500 background checks were run through the program.

Of those background investigations, 53 percent (44,946) returned some type of issue, ranging from minor traffic violations to felony convictions, according to Jennie Taylor, a LifeWay coordinator who manages Not all of the issues required any action, but more than 22.5 percent (19,202) of the screenings returned records with misdemeanor or felony offenses.*

The Texas church now understands the importance of running background checks ahead of time, Jones said.