There are so many dangers in this world it is difficult to be a parent these days. Just navigating the regular world is wrought with countless perils. We also have the internet to contend with which is a whole other can of worms. Had I not caught the signs early and ran a criminal history check, it could have destroyed the life of my son and the lives of every single member of our family.
We all know the dangers lurking out there on the internet, and we do our best as parents to keep our kids from stumbling on inappropriate content or interacting with shady people. While the dangers our kids can run into online are real, there are also predators lurking disturbingly close and can even be (and often are) the closest people to your child.
My son was in kindergarten and wanted to join soccer. It was an excellent idea because while he had a ton of energy to burn, he wasn’t exactly the most coordinated kid in the world. I figured running around in an open field for a few hours would help tire him out and build skills like teamwork and coordination.
Everyone raved about Coach Phil. He was the absolute best coach according to all of the mother’s in my local Facebook mom’s group. I was thrilled when my son was put on his team. My husband worked late nights often so having another male role model to be there for my son was an added bonus.
He Seemed Like a Godsend
Almost immediately Coach Phil took a liking to my son. He gave him extra attention helping him make contact with the ball. (It took quite a few tries just to get his foot to meet the ball). I remember him being super kind and patient. He never raised his voice to the children.
Now a kindergarten soccer game is little more than controlled chaos. There are kids all over the field, maybe a handful of them are actually chasing the ball, the rest are just running around aimlessly or picking up dandelions off the field. Coach Phil didn’t seem to mind the mess. Us mom’s thought he was a saint. The whole season he worked closely with my son and some of the other kids really building up their skills and self esteem. He even announced that he was willing to privately coach some of our kids during the summer so they didn’t lose all the valuable skills they learned. The price he quoted was practically nothing. I was thrilled.
Until We Uncovered The Truth
One night my husband was working late as usual and my three year old daughter came down with an ear infection, the same night as the last game of the season. I called Coach Phil and told him my son would have to miss the big game. He immediately offered to pick my son up and drive him to the game. At first I was relieved, but when I told my husband (who is in law enforcement) he immediately said not until we do a criminal background check on Coach Phil. I thought he was joking. This was Coach Phil, all the mother’s knew him and raved about him. Also, I’m sure they checked his records before he was allowed to coach, right? I couldn’t get my husband to budge on the subject, so I agreed to do a criminal record search on Coach Phil using Kiwi Searches. After looking at the service, I figured this was the fastest and easiest way to do the search. I was shocked about what I found!
Coach Phil had a criminal record from out of state like a mile long. All low level sex offenses against minors had most likely been pleaded down to misdemeanors, so he wouldn’t have to report them. Because he only gave residence info for our state the soccer league never checked beyond our own state’s records. I was sick to my stomach
The Truth About Child Sexual Predators
We all grew up learning about stranger danger and to fear the strange man in the trench coat. Unfortunately, the people most likely to harm our children are the people we trust the most. Teachers, coaches, pastors, priests and even other family members. They are very good at being charming and will go to great lengths to hide their true identity.
Sex offenders have the highest recidivism rate of any crime, and some can have literally hundreds of victims before they’re brought to justice. It is a scary thought, but you should be prepared so you can protect yourself.
Sex Offender Registries Often Don’t Go Far Enough
When someone gets in trouble for a sex offense, if they have a good enough lawyer they often plead down the original charges to something much smaller and sometimes even negotiate themselves from having to register as a sex offender. This is why you can have people who are predators in positions of power over children.
Trust Your Gut And Do Your Own Research
Don’t trust organizations to do the work you should be doing. Always run a criminal history search on anyone who is going to be around your children. A criminal background check includes anything from minor traffic offenses to major crimes like rape and murder.
We Were Lucky
I’m so glad my husband insisted on doing a criminal search on our son’s soccer coach. How were so many parents fooled by Coach Phil’s charm and demeanor? The truth is there are hundreds if not thousands of Coach Phil’s out there. We as parents need to be extra on guard.