2NEWS Investigates: Background checks unenforced for haunted houses, corn mazes
6:01 PM, Oct 8, 2013
TULSA - As fall returns to Green Country, so do the season's festive pop ups attractions, including the corn mazes, hay rides and haunted houses.
The 2NEWS Investigators dug into state statutes to see what hiring requirements exist when it comes to checking the backgrounds of employees hired to perform at events where children are present, and were unable to find any such requirements.
"You would think that everyone kind of has background checks, but you would hope they really kind of investigate their background a little bit since there are a lot of kids that are going through those mazes or the haunted houses." said Amy Lynaugh, of Broken Arrow.
Many of the haunted houses, including Psychopath, The Hex House and The Nightmare say they do perform background checks on the actors interacting with patrons.
2NEWS also spoke with a couple of area corn mazes. In those cases, operators say close family and friends serve as maze staff and they don't require background checks because of the familiarity they have with their employees.
Both Maj. Shannon Clark with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office and Tulsa police officer Leland Ashley say they couldn't recall a time when a child was hurt or in danger at an area attraction.
Clark says it is important, however, for parents to do their due diligence before dropping off their kids at one of these festivities.
"Check out the event before you ever drop your kids off. One, I don't think kids should be dropped off at any event like this without a chaperone present." he said. "The other thing they would definitely want to check out is do the hay rides, the haunted houses or whatever the scenario is, do they allow the actors to touch the patrons of the event? If there's touching involved, they certainly should check it out."
Clark also says many of the bigger, more reputable attractions do have security on staff and often hire off-duty police officers to patrol events.