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Keeping kids safe with background checks

Posted at 7:19 AM, Feb 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-13 07:19:01-05

"I think it's waking people up," Melissa Halvorson-Smith said.

She says the sexual abuse allegations against former doctor Larry Nassar have her rethinking who her kids are spending time with.

"There's gotta be some suspicion in every sort of event unfortunately," Halvorson-Smith said.

Her kids are involved in a lot of different activities including sports. But how do you know if the coaches and doctors in these sports programs can be trusted? According to the Michigan High School Athletic Association. All local schools have different policies when it comes to performing background checks for athletics. In Eaton Rapids, all hired employees get them.

"They go over to Eaton County and get their fingerprints taken and they're run through the database,” Eaton Rapids Athletics Director Jeff Dassance said.

They also reach out to the community to see what they know about their new hires. As for volunteers...

"We still do a background check on them," Dassance said. "We take some information from them that gives us the ability to search online through the state police department."

But let's say you don't know if your local coaches or doctors passed a background check or maybe they weren't required to pass one. Dassance says a good way to make sure your child is with somebody safe is to stay closely involved.

"Go to practices, talk to the coach, talk to the people that are in charge, ask questions," Dassance said.

Halvorson-smith says she stays close to the programs-- and tries not to leave her kids alone.

"it is a gamble when they're in something and you're not there," Halvorson-Smith said. "We always try to have someone there. Whether family, friends or some way of communication."

She says every parent should try their hardest to be aware.

One way to stay aware is to look at the Michigan State Police Sex Offender Registry

Click on search and then search offenders in your area.