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:
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.