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Screening persons that work with the vulnerable

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Millions of children come in contact with a variety of organizations such as schools, care centers, religious institutions, hospitals, volunteer associations, and sports and recreation clubs each year. Millions more, both the elderly and individuals with disabilities in need of support, are served by many more organizations and agencies. This interaction may be brief like with their healthcare provider or more intensive like an adult care service.

While the majority of these interactions are not abusive, a few are, although the actual number widely varies. In one study, about 10 percent of staff admitted to taking advantage of the elderly. As for children, the estimate of sexual abuse on them ranges from 1 to 7 percent. No matter how small it is, these incidents of abuse traumatized the victims and reduced public trust in persons serving these vulnerable populations.

Therefore, background checks should be mandated as part of the due diligence before hiring a person to work with vulnerable groups. Here are some of the reasons for this:

Qualification Verification

A person working with children or the elderly must know how to get the job done. An education and qualification verification can help employers ensure that they are capable of effectively fulfilling their responsibilities.

Ensuring Safety

The elderly and children need our protection. While their families cannot always be there to look after them, the best that can be done is to ensure that the persons catering for them will ensure their safety. Examples of the vulnerable include children, the elderly, the poor, the homeless, pregnant women, refugees, victims of abuse, etc. In countries like Australia, workers are obliged to obtain background checks depending on their level of contract with vulnerable persons. For example in a country like Australia, if you are driving a taxi in canberra, you will be required to obtain a working with vulnerable people permit since taxi drivers have unsupervised access to vulnerable persons. Whereas if you are simply working on a construction site, a background check will be at your employers discretion. Here are the ways screening checks can help:

  • Preventing Violence & Psychological abuse

In a study of 600 staff for the elderly, 40 percent of them admitted having personally committed, at least, one psychologically abusive act in the past year, while 10 percent perpetrated physical acts of violence. With criminal history checks, it’s possible to identify candidates that are prone to violence based on their criminal past. This way, they can be prevented from working with the vulnerable.

  • Preventing Sexual Abuse

We know that there are incidences of child sexual abuse in daycare centers, foster homes, and even schools from staff members taking advantage of kids. After some of the perpetrators are caught and an investigation is carried out, it then reveals that they’ve been previously charged for a sexual offense. The last thing any employer wants to do is higher a sex offender to work with vulnerable persons, as they are likely to take advantage of them.

That’s why in Australia, persons wanting to work with children are required to obtain a Working With Children Check (WWCC) or Police Checks. It highlights the past offenses of the applicant. Employers can they decide if hiring them is prudent

Preventing Fraud

As physical strength begins to wane as we get older, so does our mental acuity. The elderly are, particularly, susceptible to fraud because they are quick to trust and unable to defend themselves. Unscrupulous care providers may take advantage of this to swindle them of their money. The temptation is even stronger for care providers in financially-stressed situations. A national police check will reveal if an applicant has been involved in a financial crime before. Also, a credit history check can give insight into the spending habits of the applicant and reveal their financial situation. Employers can then analyze this information to determine if they’re suitable for working with vulnerable groups.


Because the elderly and children are unable to protect themselves, the people they interact with must be qualified and trustworthy. Background checks help to verify those attributes in potential hires.

augusta free press news
augusta free press news


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