Recently, an article was posted by Telegram & Gazette regarding a bill change for stable and riding schools in Massachusetts. The bill change would require stable and riding schools to perform local criminal checks on instructors. While this is a great start, local checks are not enough.
As parents, our children’s safety is paramount. Background checks are done on teachers, school janitors and athletic coaches, but for some reason, equestrian instructors don’t seem to have to follow the same guidelines. The bill change will still eliminate the licensing requirements, but would require CORI checks on employees, vendors, volunteers and contractors working with minors. This includes freelance riding instructors.
Even though the proposed bill change would force Massachusetts stable and riding schools to run background checks on instructors, the requirement is just for a local check. Like I wrote before, this is a great start. But it just isn’t enough and leaves a huge loophole that allows our precious children to be victimized. So, what can parents do to ensure their children are safe from dangerous predators?
According to statistics, many predators commit several crimes before getting caught. Just because someone has a clear background check doesn’t mean they are “safe” and can be completely trusted. However, you don’t want to prevent your child from learning new skills or participating in events out of fear. There are things that parents can do to increase the chances that their child will stay safe.
Even though the bill is suggested required local criminal background checks, some stable and riding schools will go beyond that and order national checks. Before choosing a stable and riding school, call and ask how deeply they investigate potential new employees. Also, find out if the backgrounds checks on employees are only done once or on a regular basis.You should also inquire about if your child is left alone with an instructor or if lessons are performed where others can see what is going on.
Parents also need to talk to their children. Teach them that some conversations and touches are inappropriate and what to do if they feel uncomfortable. The exact wording and how much detail you go into will depend on the age, maturity level and comprehension of the child.
Even though creating background check laws is a step in the right direction, parents still need to take steps to ensure their child stays safe.