Anyone in Flanders who works with children or young people – from football coaches to directors of youth theatres – will have to submit an extract from their criminal record, announced Flemish Ministers for Justice Zuhal Demir and Sports Ben Weyts.
This way, organisations can get a better idea of possible previous (sexual) offences and can make a better judgement about whether someone is suitable to work with minors, the ministers stated in a joint press release.
“With this measure, we are ensuring greater transparency in recruitment again. Every child and every family that we spare the trauma of physical or psychological abuse like this is a victory,” Demir said.
Kinderen moeten overal veilig terecht kunnen. Er is niet één zaligmakende oplossing om seksueel geweld aan te pakken, maar we zorgen wel voor een extra verdedigingsmuur. https://t.co/SFhXLwns5G
— Zuhal Demir (@Zu_Demir) January 3, 2022
Currently, teachers and youth workers already have to present an excerpt from their criminal records – the former ‘certificate of good conduct and morals’ – when they go through a job application procedure.
Wider-reaching safety standards
On the initiative of Ministers Demir and Weyts, this principle is now being extended to other sectors, including the sports sector, and will also apply to all welfare staff who work with minors.
“When we entrust our children and young people to someone, we expect that person to have an impeccable record of dealing with minors,” said Weyts.
When someone has (sexual) offences on their criminal record, organisations will have to judge whether these can be a reason to refuse someone or not. By the autumn of 2022, a tailor-made roadmap for each sector will help organisations to implement the decree.
As not every perpetrator is caught and known, the measure alone is “not a cure-all solution,” Demir admitted, but she underlined that the additional check will still be “an extra wall of defence.”
The check is one of the 71 measures in the action plan to combat sexual violence approved by the Flemish Government last year. It was also one of the recommendations of the special commission that had to look into transgressive behaviour in sport.
The text of the entire decree will now go to the Council of State, after which it will return to the government table for final approval. The aim is to have the decree enter into force in the autumn of 2022.