Since 2006 at least 40 employees of national theme parks have been arrested for trying to elicit sex from minors, possessing child pornography, and committing other sex crimes involving children. These child predators worked at parks such as Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. While none of these cases involved the children visiting these supposedly child friendly parks, these potentially dangerous employees put the safety of visiting children at risk.
This pattern of theme parks hiring employees with a history of committing child sex crimes is shocking and disturbing. Recently, 16 sex predators, some of which being theme park employees, were caught in a Florida sex sting operations. But how do these predators even become employed at children’s parks?
Disney World Spokesperson, Jacquee Wahler maintains that Disney works “closely with law enforcement and organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children” in order to strengthen efforts against hiring sex predators. She also states that they “have extensive measures in place, including pre-employment and ongoing criminal background checks and computer monitoring and firewalls.” Universal Studios and SeaWorld also described having thorough background checks. Still, despite these attempts, some sex offenders manage to get hired.
Ernie Allen, co-founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, speculates that this may be because most child predators don’t have criminal records. However, he points out that there is more that companies can do to prevent hiring sex predators. For instance, in the future, these companies could perform more diligent sex offender registry research and sex offender background checks in addition to their general pre-employment and background checks. By strengthening their pre-employment research and background checks, theme parks can avoid this disastrous scandal in the future.