Background Checks: Not "Fail Safe" For Protecting Students

A 49-year-old part-time school district employee was arrested a day after he allegedly sexually abused a child younger than the age of 15.

The child, who does not attend the school, and the employee know each other, according to investigators.

The district's spokesperson has confirmed that the accused was a part-time educational assistant at a middle school, but stated he is currently on leave. The accused has worked as a substitute educational assistant since October 2014.

Police are still investigating to see if there are other victims. Chelsea Deffenbacher "Eugene district employee accused of sexually abusing a minor," (Jun. 30, 2017).

Commentary and Checklist

Employee and volunteer background checks are an essential step for determining whether an employee or volunteer has a criminal history and is safe to work with or near children. More than likely the offender passed a background check.

Unfortunately, if the statistics are correct, most child sex predators do not have a criminal record. Consequently, schools must train everyone in the school community to watch for signs of possible inappropriate relationships between adults and students.

Being aware of common grooming techniques can be helpful. Here are some warning signs: 

  • Spends an inordinate amount of time with a child or teen student
  • Shows an unusual interest in one student, while ignoring others
  • Gives gifts or money to a student without a parent's consent
  • Seeks to be alone with a student
  • Seeks to take the student on trips away from the parent
  • Behaves toward the student or teen as a friend rather than a mentor
  • Allows the student to ignore or bend the parent's rules when the student is with the abuser
  • Contradicts or demeans the student's parents to the student
  • Communicates privately with the student via email or text, particularly about things unrelated to school or sports
  • Offers alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, or pornography to the student.
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