Why Are Child Abuse Clearances Misleading?

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (#COMe)


Police arrested (two) Plum High School teachers in February (2015) on charges of having sexual contact with students…An Allegheny County grand jury is investigating whether teachers at Plum High School abused as many as eight female students over as many as eight years and that school officials kept it quiet…(published May 19, 2015).

A pastor accused of having indecent contact with an 11-year-old girl is dealing with new allegations of sexual assault… State police on Friday charged Ray Scott Teets, 66, of South Union with indecent assault stemming from incidents in 1999, 2005 and 2013, according to online court records. (published Feb. 4, 2014)

… police on Jan. 31 (2014) charged…a longtime (Avonworth School District, Ben Avon, Pa) teacher (with) sexual assault…rape, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and other crimes…The victim told police that Street had begun assaulting her when she was 10 and the assaults continued for years…(2014)


The enhancement in background checks, on the surface, would seem to be an initial step in stopping child abusers from entering systems where they deal with children…

Unfortunately, as we have seen far too often, the perpetrator of crimes against children often does not have a criminal history and therefore would not be “red-flagged” by a background check…Simply stated, background checks are a poor indicator of who has been, who is or who will become a child abuser.

The above is an excerpt from a letter to the editor Background checks’ weakness*  published May 28, 2015, written by George Aul of Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania.

The letter stated—What is much more common (than being red-flagged) is that once a person is in a system (organization) and dealing with children, abusive actions then take place because of the unfettered access to children.


Mr. Aul echoed the points I made in the article I posted on April 8: Do Child Abuse Clearances Mean Children Are Safe? 


If child abuse clearances are a safety valve of protection for children I must wonder how educational staff can be accused of abusing their students—as were the Plum High School teachers.

It’s not just teachers—a church organist (who happened also to be a teacher) who was also in charge of the church’s children’s choir was convicted of molesting children during private music lessons. He would have passed child abuse clearances, enabling him to continue to abuse children—he was never previously convicted of child abuse.

A Greene County man who serves on a Children and Youth Services advisory board is awaiting extradition from West Virginia on charges that he sexually assaulted a boy more than 100 times over four years…a years-long pattern in which Mr. Lohr either forced the boy into sex acts or forced himself on the boy…(he) faces charges of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, corruption of minors and indecent assault…(published Sept. 4, 2013)

They did the Child Line check. They did the criminal background check. If he comes up clean, what basis do you have “for not placing children with him,” said Greene County Commissioner Chuck Morris, a nonmember rep on the CYS board. (published in the Tribune-Review, Sept. 4, 2013; pp B1)

It is unfortunate that many children are still at risk because child abuse is a complicated issue and cannot be dealt with by a “cookbook” approach. One size does not fit all in these situations, Aul wrote.


We must not be lulled into complacency with the belief that people in organizations requiring child abuse clearances are keeping children safe from predators. Inherent in the attempt to keep children safe is  Background checks’ weakness*: Constant attention must always be a first priority in recognizing the signs of child abuse…and reporting it promptly…with the caveat that we cannot become a police state, fearing every action is a sign of child abuse and thus denying children of the healthy affection they need.

Mr. Aul and I bring the same concern to the public in our writings, Background checks’ weakness* and Do Child Abuse Clearances Mean Children Are Safe? We are ultimately concerned with keeping children safe.

If you suspect a child is being abused, contact your local Child Welfare agency.


NOTE: *Wordpress prompt for April 8, 2015: ripped from the headlines https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ripped-from-the-headlines-2/



About carolyncholland

In several if my nine lives I have been a medical lab technician and a human service worker specializing in child day care, adoptions and family abuse. Currently I am a photo/journalist/writer working on a novel and a short story. My general writings can be viewed at www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com. My novel site is www.intertwinedlove.wordpress.com.
This entry was posted in ABUSE ISSUES, Child Abuse Issues, WORDPRESS PROMPTS, Wordpress writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why Are Child Abuse Clearances Misleading?

  1. Pingback: PA Child Abuse & Police Clearance Fees for Volunteers Waived as of July 25, 2015 | Carolyn's Online Magazine

  2. Pingback: Letter to the Editor re Child Abuse/Criminal Clearances is Published | Carolyn's Online Magazine

  3. Pingback: Blackburn Center Fundraiser: April 2016 | Carolyn's Online Magazine

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