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Should You Run Background Checks on Minors?

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Are you considering adding a new contributor to your nonprofit organization, YMCA, camp, or place of employment? If you are like most hiring or volunteer managers, you are open to the idea of adding a hardworking and dedicated individual, regardless of their age. The addition of a minor is cost-efficient, yet it also raises questions about safety and integrity. 

Why Minor Background Checks Are Uncommon 

For the most part, it is unnecessary to run a background check on a minor. The vast majority of states seal the criminal records of juveniles unless the minor was later convicted of a crime in adulthood. 

Above all, the primary reason why minor background checks are uncommon is the fact that states such as Massachusetts and California have laws that prevent employers from legally obtaining information about juveniles in the context of potential employment. The results of background checks on minors are limited due to their young age. 

However, there is also an argument to be made that background checks for minors are necessary for certain situations. As an example, a post that requires the new addition to handle money, interact with kids, or take on other demanding responsibilities might necessitate a background check, regardless of the applicant’s age. 

A criminal background check analysis gives you and your organization a better idea as to whether the applicant can be trusted around youngsters, money, and sensitive material. A background check has the potential to reveal poor moral character, a history of deviance, and possibly even a violent streak that should be exposed before a job or volunteer offer is made. 

The Issue of Parental Consent 

If you insist on conducting a background check on a minor, obtain approval from the minor’s parents or guardian(s) to remain in full compliance with the law. However, even if the minor’s parent permits such an analysis of their tween or teen, regulatory barriers prevent full access. The sealed criminal record of a minor is inaccessible to employers. We would be remiss not to mention that employers are barred from accessing credit-related information on minors as they are unlikely to have access to lines of credit. 

Adding a Minor Without a Background Check 

Use your mind’s eye to envision your organization adding a teenager or even a tween to the team for volunteer work, part-time work, or other contributions. You might be tempted to expedite the onboarding process to meet demand and keep your enterprise operating like a well-oiled machine. Add a minor to your organization withoutperforming a background check, and you run the risk of that individual misrepresenting the identity presented on the job application and during the interview. 

Though no hiring manager wants to ponder the prospect of a minor becoming violent, abusive, or otherwise problematic as a member of the team, the failure to do so has the potential to constitute legal negligence. Negligence is a word lawyers and paralegals commonly use to refer to a party’s failure to provide the legally required level of care to those within their vicinity. 

Pave a Path for a Minor's Meaningful Contribution 

In summary, background checks of minors are uncommon yet possible. The plain truth of the matter is that an in-depth analysis of a minor’s past is unlikely to yield any significant results. However, there are some situations in which it is prudent for organizations to obtain parental consent for a minor's background check. If you are still on the fence as to whether running background checks on minors is worth the small investment of time and money, reach out to our experts for guidance.