Who Needs Background Checks?

In today’s day and age, it’s standard practice to do background checks on all volunteers who work with children. Right?

Sometimes people wonder if a background check is really necessary.

Picture this example: A grandparent volunteers at a pre-school program once a week to read a storybook for a half an hour. She is always under the supervision of a teacher and will never even be alone with the kids.

So, is there really a need to spend the organization’s valuable and limited funds on background checking this person who will always be supervised, will never be alone with a child, and is SO nice?

An organization might very well say there is no need to background check this “low risk” volunteer for all of the reasons listed above. The organization assumes there is no chance of risk so why waste the person’s time, the organization’s money, and possibly insult this low risk volunteer with a background check.  

Now imagine the following scenario:

The grandparent volunteers every week without fail. It’s a highlight of everyone’s week. The teacher appreciates the time to breathe while the volunteer reads and the students love her and the stories she reads.  

Then one week, one of the children falls and hurts himself during reading time. The grandparent offers to take the child to the nurse. Seeing no alternative, the teacher agrees.  (Reverse the situation and have the teacher decide to take the child herself to the office. Now the grandparent is alone and unsupervised with ALL the students!)

Once the teacher leaves the grandparent in charge of a child once, they fall into the habit of relying on her in the future, even though no background screening was ever provided. This is a prime example where an abuser could groom the organization in order to get access to children.

By the way, notice how the “two adults always with children policy” was innocently broken in this scenario.

So, is the grandparent going to abuse the injured child or children?  Probably not. 

But why take the risk?

Most people are good citizens who strive to live their lives with integrity and compassion. 

Some people do not. Talented people with bad intentions exist.

 We live in a world where some charismatic individuals act out their lives as a charade, conning their way into organizations that will provide them easy access to children. You can do everything right and still have a child abuser sneak into your organization. They are experts at grooming everyone around them. 

That’s one of the many reasons why we need to upgrade from “good practices” to “best practices.”

A good practice is background screening every new adult who joins your organization. A best practice is conducting regularly scheduled background checks for every person, no exceptions, or using a fingerprint-based background check that reports to your organization if the person ever has a reportable event. Do you hear the difference? There are no loopholes for employees hired before a certain date, “low-risk” volunteers, or the executive director’s nephew when you work with best practices.

Vulnerability isn’t an option. In today’s day and age, good practices are simply not good enough. 

Compass provides low-cost background checks.