Many organizations across the country that conduct youth sports programs are beginning to realize what the City of North Miami (Florida) Parks and Recreation Department has known for quite some time: Background checks on coaches are crucial to a youngster’s safety and well-being.

For more than a decade the City of North Miami Parks and Recreation has been training and screening its coaches to ensure that the more than 2,300 children who participate in its wide range of sports programs aren’t subjected to the destructive touch of a child molester.

“It’s extremely important to do background checks,” said Ron Bell, the recreation coordinator there. “We want anyone dealing with children in our programs to clear a background investigation.”

Background checks on coaches have become increasingly more common as horror stories continue to emerge across the youth sports landscape regarding coaches who have taken advantage of youngsters under their supervision.

“We’ve heard about web sites for child predators that are out there that tell them that youth sports are an ideal place to take advantage of kids,” Bell said. “That’s pretty sobering. Background checks are one of the most important things you can do.”

“We know that predators move to the location with the easiest targets,” Rodebaugh said. “If your program is doing background checks they’re going to move to a program that doesn’t do them, because we have seen it.”

Sports Illustrated 1999 investigative piece Who’s Coaching Your Kid? was a chilling account of the seriousness of the issue. The grim reality of the problem was also covered by ESPN’s Outside the Lines’ primetime special Broken Trust – Coaches & Sexual Abuse.

Clearly, even one coach that slips into a program undetected can cause irreparable damage to countless young lives, which is why the City of North Miami Parks and Recreation has been committed to aggressively checking out anyone interested in coaching children in its programs.

Anyone seeking a coaching appointment must complete an application form, provide references and go through an interview. Furthermore, background checks are conducted on all individuals. The city picks up the tab on the background checks, while the coaches pay the $20 fee to go through the NYSCA certification program.

The concerted effort the City of North Miami Parks and Recreation puts into protecting children and providing quality programming was one of the factors that led to it being one of five organizations from across the country selected to receive the prestigious Excellence in Youth Sports award. The award is presented annually by the National Alliance For Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine to organizations that conduct multifaceted youth sports programs that focus on providing positive and safe experiences for all participants.

“We are just thrilled to receive the award,” Bell said. “We’ve been a proponent of the Alliance and our philosophy coincides with the Alliance right down to every detail. We’ve found that the Alliance puts out outstanding programs and they have a solution for any problem. All you have to do is implement their policies and courses, because it has virtually eliminated any problems in our programs.”

That’s good news for the children.

Criminal background checks for coaches.

American Sports University Athletic Recruiting.

Are you ready for the NEXT STEP!