No Bad Santa: Background checks prevent problems for employers, parents alike

Santa Checks ImageMany retail stores are already busting out the holiday music and cheery decór, and retailers and organizations are already going about hiring holiday helpers. While any business would do well to screen its holiday help — after all, businesses are more likely to be robbed by employees than shoplifters — it’s a different story altogether when you’re hiring someone to play Santa. Because Mr. Claus and his elves are likely to be around children for the entirety of their roles, it’s best for their employer and the visiting families if these jolly bastions of Christmas cheer undergo proper screening, whether that means a full criminal background check, or simply checking their names (just the once will do) against the sex offender registry. However, parents need to keep in mind that not all venues and locations require the same types of background checks, as the law varies by state and region. Some parents aren’t so worried about whether or not Santa has been screened, as they plan to be present with their children while visiting Kris Kringle. Other parents believe it’s a good thing for Santa’s status to be checked for their own peace of mind. A library in Louisiana was simply trying to comply with state law when it asked if long-time volunteer and jolly Santa look-alike Russ Wise was a sex offender. The law states that no child sex offenders are allowed on library property, but Wise was offended that, after years of active service in his community, as Santa and in various other community positions, his character was being brought into question. “I’m not arguing against the law,” Wise said. “I am not arguing against the reasoning behind the law. My own position is: I am philosophically opposed to having to prove I’m innocent.” Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the law, it still must be upheld for the safety of all participants. Neither Wise nor any other local volunteers are forced to undergo background checks, but because of his lack of compliance, he will not be playing Santa at his local library this year.]]>

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