Criminal-background checks help Camden Diocese officials safeguard kids

During National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, many Catholics are keeping an eye on details of the clergy sex abuse trial unfolding in a Philadelphia courtroom.

Children in programs with one New Jersey diocese are kept safe through a background-checking process, said Rod Herrera, the director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the Diocese of Camden

“It is the policy of the Diocese of Camden to do a criminal-history background check on all adults who are in regular contact with children,” Herrera said. “In the past year, we probably did close to 500-700 fingerprints for new volunteers in contact with children. Of those, fewer than 80 were convictions.”

Herrera said only four or five of those were automatic disqualifications; two were drug-related offenses and the rest were for aggravated assault.

He said people submit to the check even when they have criminal records because the incident is old or they think their record has been cleared.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.