Anime Expo Launches Youth Protection Policy, Will Require Exhibitors to Submit to Background Checks

Last week, in an attempt to increase convention safety, Anime Expo parent organization the SPJA launched their Youth Protection Program. According to their official announcement, the SPJA is partnering with the Nonprofit Risk Management Center to create a safer environment for younger attendees.

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center and SPJA put out the following video about the program in late April as well:

This new policy will require all event staff, volunteers, guests, and pretty much anyone at the con in any sort of official or professional capacity to complete the safety training on their website. They also request (but don’t require) those vending at the convention complete the courses as well. While a bit time consuming, this is overall a step in the right direction in creating a safer space.

What is a more complicated part of this announcement is the additional requirement that Exhibitors, Vendors and Press have to have criminal background checks run on anyone working the convention, without any clarification about who will actually pay for this. Criminal background checks are fairly expensive, and that kind of onus on small businesses is difficult.

Frankly criminal background checks can be problematic when they’re not focused on specific violations. There’s a significant difference between someone with a record for sexual assault versus someone with a minor drug violation. This can also be a diversity issue, as minorities are disproportionally affected by the inequality inherent in our judicial system.

So, y’know, while it’s clear that the SPJA’s intentions are good, this may not be as positive a policy move as they hope it will be.


Trae Dorn

Trae Dorn has been staffing conventions for over twenty years, and is a co-founder of Wisconsin’s longest running Anime convention No Brand Con. Trae also wrote and drew the now completed webcomic UnCONventional, and produces the podcasts BS-Free Witchcraft, On This Day With Trae, Stormwood & Associates, and The Nerd & Tie Podcast. This leads many to ask when the hell they have time to actually do anything anymore. Trae says they have the time because they “do it all quite poorly.”

One thought on “Anime Expo Launches Youth Protection Policy, Will Require Exhibitors to Submit to Background Checks

  • May 18, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Ummm… i dunno… kinda reeks of a “loss prevention / risk management” proposal from corporate that was approved without a lotta thunking…
    1) who pays for this – program for reduced costs / free if vendor, etc. Proves they cant afford ?
    2) what time frame to complete ?
    3) threshold for fail (rso vs. Cannabis offense, for instance?) – procedure for appeal ?
    4) how do they ensure that all vendors, etc. who may attend, sub, etc. will be ONLY those who passed said checks ? microchips ? branding ? & again who pays ?
    5) why only youth ? are the developmentally different exempt ? what abiut those of us who whig / squick / (really) trigger a/o gross out kinda easy – Where’s My Safe Space ? (i’m totally serious)
    At a guess SPJC will strong arm this onto everyone they can until something generally goes wrong, some minor is felt up by another minor in a safe space, a powerful vendor raises hell or threatens to boycott, their required background check source (KICKBACKS!) misses something or misreports someone as hot/not hot & then All Hell Breaks Loose.
    Get the popcorn ready kids… this might be goood.


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