EAA Adds Background Checks For Young Eagles Volunteers


Starting May 1, anyone who wants to take part in an EAA-sanctioned Young Eagles event will have to take an online training course and undergo a standard background check before interacting with the young participants. EAA introduced its Youth Protection Policy earlier this year and got an earful from some volunteers who objected to what they consider an invasion of privacy in a data-gathering scheme that goes too far. But EAA’s VP of Communities and Member Programs, Rick Larsen, told AVweb in a podcast interview that while some volunteers have quit the program, more than 5,000 of an estimated 6,000 active Young Eagles participants and organizers have taken the course and done the checks. Larsen said the program provides “a bit more guidance and structure” for organizing and running events involving kids to ensure that everyone is protected.

Larsen said Young Eagles involves up to 70,000 young people every year and virtually every other youth program with those sorts of numbers has these policies in place. He said that came into sharp focus when it became known that people who had taken part in Young Eagles events had been charged with criminal offenses involving young people. Larsen said having the program in place ensures that all involved in the program have the knowledge and training to carry out the events safely. He said the program is a matter of implementing best practices and conforming to modern expectations and standards. He also said EAA has listened to member concerns and modified some of the provisions, including making the provision of the volunteer’s Social Security number optional. The background checks, which are the source of most of the controversy on the EAA forums, will remain mandatory, he said.