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 writes and draws the webcomics UnCONventional and The Chronicles of Crosarth, which 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.”