Background Checks for Parent Volunteers?

By ABC News

Jan 25, 2012 4:02pm

ht lifetime moms logo jef 110908 wl Background Checks for Parent Volunteers?By MELISSA HURST

LIFETIME MOMS

 

My son’s new school requires all volunteers, even parents who just read a story in class once a month, to submit to a background check. This costs money and can be very time consuming. After a recent news story was aired, however, I find this less of an annoyance and more of a necessity. A man was arrested recently in Arizona for suspected molestation of children.

I’ll be honest and admit that stories like this make me cringe and want to keep my children locked safe within my home, although I know that isn’t the answer.

The scariest part of this is that the man was a volunteer at an upstanding church for more than a year and this was not the first church at which he had volunteered.  Although this specific church had regulations to conduct checks on volunteers, it only covered those who worked with children younger than sixth grade-age. Unfortunately, that was not enough.

This is just more proof that, as parents, we must ask hard questions about the places and people our children will be around. Churches, schools, sporting events, libraries, day cares, clubs, the list goes on. If our children are involved in them, then we need to find out what people are also allowed to be there.

For this specific church, it announced that it will be requiring background checks on all volunteers, even parents. I realize that background checks alone are not the only answer here. But had this regulation been put in place previously, it might have prevented this atrocious act.

As parents, we need to be involved as much as possible with those in charge and ask questions about where children will be, who they are with and for how long. We also need to trust our gut instinct about places and situations, and when in doubt, just keep our children away. For me, that means that from now on, I will be asking organizations specific questions regarding their checks before my children are involved.

Do you agree with background checks for everyone who works with children, even fellow parents?

See what John Walsh of “America’s Most Wanted” has to say about predators and your kids. Watch AMW now on Lifetime Fridays 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.

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This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

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