For its part, the Garland Soccer Association said it plans to do everything it can to reassure parents that their children are safe with those who serve for the not-for-profit organization.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of it and we’re going to do what it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Kimberly Verity, vice president of the Garland Soccer Association, told WFAA. “We want to do everything we can to protect our children. That’s what we take pride in.”
“I was shocked. We were all shocked and saddened that it’s happened,” said Kimberly Verity.
“We deal with many children and parents. We’ve never had anything like this before. It’s heartbreak,” said Don Starkey.
Both sit on the board of the Garland Soccer Association. Verity is the Vice President of the association. Starkey is the Facility Director.
Verity said the Garland Soccer Association started paying an organization to conduct an extra background check on their coaches two years ago even though their parent organization, the North Texas Soccer Association, has always and still conducts background checks.
“I know we do that every year on every single coach,” Verity said.
When told Mondragon-Guzman turned out to be in the country illegally, she said, “That’s what I’ve heard. That’s what I’ve heard.”
They don’t know how Bernardo Mondragon-guzman slipped through.
“We’re going to do everything we can to protect our children. And if we need to change things, we’ll do, we’ll change things,” Verity said.
Though I made motions, and documented more action that should be taken in my board reports Garland Soccer did nothing. David Arciniega refused to form the child safety committee I recommended as a degreed educator and shot down any attempt to make the changes necessary to keep our kids safe. Garland Soccer did absolutely nothing in response to our kids being raped. GSA lied to all the parents and left our kids in grave danger.
Tip Sheet: What Parents Need To Know When Selecting A Program For Their Child
Choosing a school or program is one of the most complicated and emotional decisions you have to make as a parent. The specific activities, the schedule, the costs, how it matches your child’s needs and interest– all these things play a part in your decision. Whether or not the school has a child sexual abuse prevention policy needs to be a consideration.
9 Questions to ask of your child’s existing or prospective school and the answers you should expect to hear.
1. What is the organization’s policy on child sexual abuse prevention?
To be sure your child is safe, make sure any program you are considering has a more comprehensive approach to preventing sexual and other forms of child abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has defined six key components of a comprehensive approach to keeping kids safe. These include:
- Screening and selecting employees and volunteers
- Guidelines on interactions between individuals (none exist in Garland Soccer)
- Monitoring behavior (The Garland Soccer board shot that down as certain members said they didn’t care to do it. Garland refuses to monitor coaches and keep kids safe.)
- Ensuring safe physical environments
- Responding to inappropriate behavior, breaches in policy, and allegations and suspicions of child sexual abuse (Garland Soccer bragged to the media that it would do and change and then did nothing. These incidents are swept under the rug and forgotten.)
- Training about child sexual abuse (I moved for coaches and parents to be educated and suggested materials from the Positive Coaching Alliance and was shot down. Garland Soccer refused to take any reasonable action to protect our kids.)
2. How does the program screen staff?
The organization or program should be knowledgeable about who sexually abuses children and what puts children at risk to be abused. Ask how they screen employees and volunteers and be wary if they rely solely on criminal background checks. They should use written applications and personal interviews to learn about what previous experience someone has working with youth and to identify any potential warning signs. For example, some people who sexually abuse children spend all of their time with children or youth and do not have any relationships (friendships, significant partners, co-workers) with adults. (Nothing but background checks are done even though I pointed out numerous times that 95% of sex offenders pass background checks.)
3. Are criminal background checks enough?
No. Criminal background checks can give a false sense of security. Because the vast majority of child sexual abuse goes unreported, the vast majority of people who have sexually abused children will pass a criminal background check. Too often, organizations serving kids rely solely on background checks to determine whether a person is safe to work with children. This is a very low bar. People who have sexually abused children will pass a criminal background check unless the abuse has been reported, prosecuted as a sexual crime, and the person has been found guilty.
4. Do they check references?
5. What is their policy or code of conduct about interactions between employees/ volunteers and youth?
Organizations should have a policy regarding staff and youth interactions. Does the code include examples of positive interactions or is it so focused on what not to do that your child could miss out on appropriate, encouraging interaction? Are you comfortable with how they define appropriate and inappropriate interactions? (None exist and David Arciniega refused to allow me to have a committee to craft such policies and make recommendations to improve child safety.)
6. How do they monitor interactions between adults and children?
All the policies in the world won’t do any good unless they are observing interactions and taking action as needed. Organizations who take seriously the safety of children understand the importance of both observation and taking action. What procedures does the organization have for monitoring interactions? What is the procedure for bringing up concerns about interactions between adults or older youth and children? Who is designated to handle these concerns? (Garland Soccer’s board shot down my request to implement such monitoring and requirement to have the practice schedules and locations for all teams.)
7. Have they considered safety in the physical environment?
Safety in the physical layout can be too often overlooked. Are all areas of the space visible to others or could someone bring a child into a corner or closet without being seen by others? Do doors have windows or are they kept open so anyone walking by can see how staff are interacting with children? When you visit the space, think about how easy or difficult it will be for staff to monitor interactions. Would it be easy for someone from outside the program to gain access? Can anyone walk in or do you need to sign in?
8. How do they handle situations like inappropriate behavior or allegations of sexual abuse?
You want to be certain that they have policies and procedures in place to deal with not only evidence of sexual abuse but breaches in policies and concerning behaviors. Some situations require an internal response while others should be handled by authorities. Organizations with policies in place are better equipped to handle concerns than those who have not. (Swept under the rug and forgotten.)
9. What training staff and volunteers receive about preventing child sexual abuse?
Training is another way that organizations send a message to staff and volunteers that they are serious about keeping children safe from abuse. Training should include information on how to identify signs of abuse and when it is appropriate to make a referral. They should also know what the procedures are for making a referral and the designated staff person to handle these referrals. Training should be ongoing and refresher courses available.
It is important that even temporary staff and volunteers are made aware of the school’s child protection policy and mechanism for reporting any concerns and allegations. Some organizations even provide training to parents and other caregivers because they know the importance of knowledgeable adults in keeping children safe. (Garland Soccer’s board refused to make any changes in response to our children being raped and is doing absolutely nothing more than background checks.)
In the news again!