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Press Release: Screening an urgent priority

Press Release: Screening an urgent priority

February 28, 2012


Big Buddy is horrified that a convicted sex offender was able to be employed as a teacher for eight years.

The 41-year-old man is now in custody in Manukau.

Since 1997, Big Buddy has screened 477 male volunteers to make sure they are safe before they are matched with fatherless boys.

CEO Richard Aston says the current case, which has sparked a ministerial inquiry, reflects the very poor quality of screening currently available in New Zealand.

"Big Buddy has spent considerable time and effort developing a robust screening process to ensure the safety of the children we work with. Our Innovative 360 degree screening process allows us to identify potential and active sex offenders," says Richard Aston.

"In this case, the fact the offender assumed different identities is no excuse and an obvious deficiency in a system relying solely on woefully inadequate police checks."

"A police check is just one part of a much bigger screening process at Big Buddy. We feel a strong moral compunction to protect our children from sex offenders and we take the pragmatic view that the best way to protect them from risk is to identify potential offenders and then ensure they are not allowed contact with children."

Richard Aston says Big Buddy feels so strongly about this issue it made a submission to the Government's Green Paper on vulnerable children suggesting the implementation of a rigorous national screening programme for all cases where children may be at risk.

"The government is talking about monitoring children, mandatory reporting and information sharing but we are saying 'let's start where the problem is - with the abusers - not the children'. Let's get serious about protecting our children."

ends

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