Are Australian teens more likely to fail a criminal record check?

When you say teens, you think about kids playing ball go and taking their girlfriend for a romantic walk in the park. That’s how we tend to think about teenagers – young, happy, innocent. However, this is a misconception and if you look at the crime rates in Australia you’ll discover teenagers are on top of the list for the number of criminal offenders per 100,000 people. So, if you’re planning to hire a teenager, even for a temporary job, you’d better ask for a background check.

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What is the crime rate among teenagers?

The latest statistics available, those for 2019-2020, speak for themselves. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, during that period there were 374,645 offenders processed by police. Among the 15-19 year olds, there were 3,774 offenders per 100,000 people, by far the largest percentage among all the age groups. For comparison, for the 20-24 age group there were 3,265 per 100,000 people. And only 1,161 for the 50-59 age group. 

Keep in mind that the numbers were a little lower than those for the 2018-2019 period, a decrease caused in part by the early introduction of Covid-19 restrictions in Australia. 

Should you ask teenage employees or volunteers for background checks?

These numbers prove that when you’re talking about teenagers you should not assume they are certainly innocent and worthy of your trust. You need to make sure that they were not involved in any criminal activities, like theft, drug trafficking or violent crimes.

Many small or mid-sized businesses employ teenagers for summer jobs or part-time jobs, and this is a good thing, both for the employers and the youngsters that get some work experience and money of their own.

Teenagers are also increasingly taking up volunteer roles to obtain work experience and learn credible skills. Many of them do it out of love and compassion for their local communities. Regardless of the good intentions, it is important to keep the vulnerable members of our community (e.g. aged care personnel) safe and in the hands of trustworthy volunteers. A volunteer police check can be obtained from tenneragers as young as 13 years of age in Australia. Focus should be given to roles where the teen will have unsupervised access to the vulnerable, or to sensitive information.

Even if you do hire someone for a temporary job you’d be well advised to ask for a criminal record check. Should the teenager in front of you ask why, just talk to them about the crime rates mentioned above. As an employer, it is your duty to protect your business and the numbers show teenagers are more likely to fail a background check as compared to their elders.

To make things easier for them, you should propose doing an online background check. Why send an 18-year old to the police station and make him feel like a criminal when you can do this online, without any fuss or inconvenience? Also, teens love doing everything online if possible, so it will seem quite cool!

What are online background checks?

In Australia there are now several online service providers. They deliver background screening checks that are valid. You only need to look up one such agency and fill in the online form. Have the teenager fill out the application form and upload it to the site (along with their signed informed consent) and they’re done. You’ll get the criminal history check in a few days delivered to your email.

This way you can make sure the teenager looking for a job is a good kid and won’t cause you any problems.

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