Every day child molesters violate children placed in their care. We feel safe when criminal background checks are conducted on teachers, day care providers, school bus drivers, Sunday school teachers and others. Still investigators, like myself, continue to encounter great numbers of children violated by molesters who slipped through these safeguard procedures. Why? One reason is that known and convicted predators represent only a small percentage of those predisposed to molesting children.
checks are important. They do help
prevent known predators from having access to children. The problem is that most safeguard
procedures are limited to criminal history inquiry and/or information from “Megan Law” type registries.
Like the tip of an iceberg, known offenders, the kind background checks will expose, do represent serious danger to the safety of children, but they are not the greatest danger. Some identified sexual predators have discovered ways to avoid being included in such lists—others have never been identified as a threat.
The traditional checks remove the tip of that iceberg. The resulting false sense of security keeps watchful parents, concerned adults and prospective employers from looking deeper. These become vulnerable to what lies beneath the calm surface.
Employers and child care providers must recognize the limitations of typical background inquiries. They need to incorporate more thorough methods of screening prospective employees. Comprehensive background investigations are often employed and do help but a more effective tool is available. Forensic pre-employment interviews will expose efficiently most potential threats. These threatening individuals are heavily cloaked though a lifetime of effort. Sexual predators seeking employment are enabled by employers to harm the innocent when they are not detected and ejected. Forensic interviews by persons experienced and trained to recognize subtle deceptions or subtle indicators of deviance will unmask the hidden danger.
Where are effective screening personnel found by employers? There is a vast, mostly untapped, resource available--retiring police investigators and child protective investigators. These investigators may be looking for new exciting ways to use their knowledge and experience while continuing to protect children. For some jobs, employers seek education and youth in their new employees. In the area of interpersonal relationships, however, particularly in discerning potential hidden danger of a sexual nature, education cannot take the place of experience. Ferreting out a potential problem employee is not an exact science but rather an educated guess, even an instinct drawn from years of experience. Pre-employment interviews by experienced persons can remove potential sexual abuse and harassment problems by eliminating from the prospective employment pools those revealing potential risk.
Police officers and investigators hone their people skills in the crucible of hard experience. They learn subtle clues indicating deception; observation of human behavior is both taught and caught from training and hundreds of interviews with both victims and suspects. After the background checks are done, the interview process can weed out the dangerous predators seeking employment that would give them access to children or other vulnerable individuals. Consider the benefit—weigh the cost of human suffering, accompanying litigation. Avoid the iceberg.