California on Thursday imposed more guarantees on youth service organizations to protect against future child abuse complaints like the ones that drove the Boy Scouts of America out of business last year.
Legislation approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom will require these organizations to have at least two commissioned journalists present when employees or volunteers work directly with children.
It requires fingerprint background checks of regular employees and volunteers, which Democrat MP Lorena Gonzalez says is designed to catch child molesters with criminal records before they start working with children. .
And adults who volunteer more than 16 hours per month or 32 hours per year need to be trained in identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect.
The requirements come into effect on January 1.
“As a parent, I want to know that my children are in a safe environment when they are part of a youth service organization,” Gonzalez said in a statement.
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who called for the legislation, said many youth organizations have already adopted best practices, but the bill will set uniform standards.
He authorized the legislature without opposition votes.
The California State PTA supported the intention, but said the measure needed a clearer definition to specifically exclude groups like it that provide volunteers to schools but are not youth organizations.
The Boy Scouts are negotiating with insurers and others to create a hedge fund to compensate tens of thousands of men who say they were sexually abused as children by Boy Scout leaders and others.
The Irving, Texas-based organization filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2020 in a bid to settle hundreds of lawsuits.
Newsom also signed a related bill that requires the California Military Department to report statistics on sexual harassment. It also specifies that crimes committed by persons in active service are not immune from civil or criminal liability.
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