Criminal Convictions and the Boy Scouts of America

If you’re gearing up for the upcoming Scout season, and would love nothing more than to be part of the group leadership – but have a couple of black marks on your criminal record and aren’t sure of how well you’d be received – you’ll want check out the info we have for you below.

The Boy Scouts of America (and most other youth groups) are really cracking down

In the early days of the Boy Scouts of America, youth baseball, basketball, football, and soccer – amongst pretty much every single other youth group or youth activity imaginable – the only qualifications necessary for leading a team, running a chapter or organization, or becoming a part of the leadership group was that you had a boy or girl in the activity.

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Today, literally nothing could be further from the truth.

In a world where there are threats all around us – a world where attacks against children by adults that have been put in positions of leadership or responsibility for those individuals are happening at a seemingly explosive rate – it’s impossible to just “hand over the keys to the car” to a Boy Scout group, a baseball team, or a soccer team and hope for the best.

No, it’s impossible to have this kind of cavalier attitude to the individuals that are allowed to run and interact with our children after incidents like an attack in early 2003 by a man named Thomas Hacker.

Hacker was (by all accounts) a relatively normal fellow, a man that was looking to get engaged in a local Boy Scout chapter in the Burbank, California community. An older man without a child in the group himself, people still were looking to unload a bit of the responsibility and burden of running an active Boy Scout chapter to another man – and they welcomed him with open arms.

Unfortunately they did so without running a background check beforehand.

If they had taken the time to do so, they would have learned that this seemingly normal fellow was anything but – he was a convicted sex offender that preyed on children in the 1980s.

This would (unsurprisingly) lead to an unfortunate situation where he sexually assaulted one of the 11 year old boys under his charge as a scout leader. And though he was sentenced to a 100 year prison term for this sexual assault, that young boy is going to have to deal with the pain and repercussions of this attack – and the lack of a background check – for the rest of his life.

Background checks are the norm when looking to get involved with children

Instances like the one involving Hacker aren’t exactly commonplace by any stretch of the imagination, but they aren’t the rarest thing any longer, either.

This is why the overwhelming majority of groups out there that deal with young people – including the Boy Scouts of America, the American Youth Soccer Organization, Little League Baseball, and a whole host of others – require each and every one of their volunteers to disclose criminal offenses and also host random screenings and background checks to verify that the people volunteering are qualified to be trusted with these young people in the first place.

Sex offenders are universally disqualified, while violent offenders and those with a DUI or substance abuse related issues may be disqualified as well. Those that have been involved in nonviolent and nonsexual crimes will be given special consideration, as well as those that have only a handful of blemishes from the early part of their life decades ago.

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The important detail to remember here is that you are going to want to voluntarily disclose any and all issues during the volunteer application. If you hesitate, or if you leave something off of the application that is uncovered in a random background check later on, you’re almost always going to be removed from the group and may have litigation pressed upon you as well.

If you’ve been convicted of a DUI or other nonviolent and nonsexual crimes, make sure that you provide this information up front and be honest about the situation. Your odds of becoming a part of the leadership group go up substantially when you do so.