Mr. Reed, known in the SCA as Aaron Faheud Swiftrunner of the Stone Keep, provided both the initial announcement and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document today. Details of the policy's implementation will be released following the upcoming meeting of the Board of Directors. Initially, the policy applies only to activities in the United States.
In response to repeated occurrences of the SCA having to deal with abuse of minors by SCA participants, risk to our membership from such predatorial behavior, and legal liabilities if we fail to execute proper due diligence, the SCA will be implementing a background check program to minimize risk of harm to our people and the organization. This program will revolve around conducting--via a properly licensed vendor--background checks on all persons wishing to serve in a leadership or supervisory position where minors are expected to be taking direction from--or be in the direct control of adults who are not their parent or legal guardian.
An example of officials who must receive the background check are: Youth activities officers at all levels, Adults acting as youth marshals for any martial activity, persons organizing/in charge of youth activities for an event.
These checks will return a pass/fail status. A pass status will cause the corporate office to issue a card good for two years that must be presented in order to be accepted as an official as described above.
It is expected that this process will be streamlined and simplified as much as possible without invalidating the value of the background checks themselves. The cost of the checks will be billed back to the Kingdoms whose programs these volunteers are supporting.
It is worth noting that these measures are less stringent than those being used today by the Boy Scouts of America.
Further details, to include the actual process and an implement-by date will accompany the implementing guidelines to be issued after the April Board Meeting.
Background Check FAQ
The SCA has long had a policy of parents being ultimately responsible for their children at SCA activities. We have policies in place prohibiting a single adult from being alone in supervising youth that are not their children by birth or legal document. These have not sufficed to prevent harm to some of our minor participants at the hands of adult participants. Since 2002, there have been 88 revocation and denial of membership decisions rendered by the Board of Directors. 29 of these have been for conviction of predatory crimes. 24 of these have been with regard to abuse of minors. It would seem clear that the old policies are not sufficient to protect our minor participants. Any number greater than zero of these incidents is profoundly unacceptable.
There are many organizations similar to the SCA in that they have well-defined programs for minor participants. These organizations conduct a due-diligence check of volunteers who would like to be in positions of control, teaching, or supervision of minor participants. The vast majority of these organizations vet possible volunteers via background check. There are a variety of methods used.
The SCA feels a responsibility to the wellbeing of our minor participants and will implement a program of background checks to enhance their safety.
Some Questions and answers about this endeavor follow:
Q: Are Kingdoms required to implement the Society policy?
A: Once upheld by the Board of Directors, the Kingdoms will have a timeline to implement the policy or cease offering youth-activity programs.
Q: I had a background check for work. Can you just use that?
A: No. All checks for this program will be performed according to the same criteria and by the same vendor for all participants. The vendor is a licensed, bonded provider of background examinations.
Q: Will the SCA be privy to specific details of my background, whether I pass the exam or not?
A: No. The SCA will only receive a pass or a fail notice from the background-examination provider.
Q: Will my personal information be exposed to other SCA participants?
A: No. Information is provided directly to the vendor in order to perform the background examination, and does not go through the SCA.
Q: How long is my pass status good for?
A: It is planned that the pass status will be good for two years.
Q: Will all existing officers have to be checked?
A: All officers/volunteers with supervisory positions, teaching, or direct control of minor participants - new or existing - would require a background examination.
Aaron Faheud Swiftrunner of the Stone Keep OL OP
c/o George L. Reed
Society Seneschal and Vice President of Operations
The above notice and FAQ are reprinted here with the kind permission of George Reed.