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How Child Predators May Use Staff And Others To Access Children

Police in Texas arrested a man they say has been sexually abusing children since 2012. Authorities believe the serial child predator dated single mothers in order to gain access to their children.

The man allegedly rented out a mobile home on his property to the mothers. Police believe his victims include a 12-year-old boy, a 13-year-old boy, and 5- and 6-year-old half sisters. He likely abused even more children. Erica Young "Accused serial child molester dated mothers to get close to their children, deputies say," (Sep. 08, 2016).     

Commentary and Checklist

As the referenced news story illustrates, sexual predators will target adults to access children. Consequently, families and staff are vulnerable to such criminals.

For example, a nanny or au pair may begin to meet a boyfriend/girlfriend outside the home while caring for a family’s children. At this point, a third party adult now has access to the children without going through any form of vetting. This increases the risk to the children for sex crimes and kidnapping. 

Family employers should have a strict policy that childcare staff or au pairs may not invite others into your home or take your children to meet other adults without prior approval. State in your handbook that taking children to others’ homes or inviting others into your home without approval will lead to termination and that meeting third parties outside the home without prior approval can also lead to immediate termination or cancellation of the au pair arrangement. 

Routinely ask your children if they spent time with any other adults while they were with the nanny. If so, question the nanny about the interaction and remind the nanny of your policy restricting who has access to your children.

If an applicant is being manipulated by a child perpetrator to find a job with access to children, a thorough background check will likely reveal red flags. Ask past employers if the candidate ever took children to spend time with other adults, of if their children’s behavior changed after the nanny or staff member started caring for them.

Family employers should follow these steps when conducting background checks on childcare staff:

  • Reference checks are a must. If candidates cannot provide recent references or if their references refuse to cooperate, then you should give preference to those whose references check out positive.
  • If an applicant's references refuse to cooperate, ask the applicant for other references. It is important that you find past employers that can state the applicant has not shown any signs of being, or working with, a child predator.
  • On personal references, question the reference closely to determine that the reference worked with the applicant in the manner that was described to you.
  • Google the candidate. See if you can find blogs or other writings by the candidate or about the candidate that will shed more light on the candidate's personality or possible signs of misbehavior.
  • Check social websites. Social websites ask users to post personal information. How a candidate describes himself outside of the hiring process can be very helpful.
  • Double-check factual information the candidate lists on the application. If an applicant is untruthful in his or her written application, then that is a sign to move on to the next candidate.
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