Have you ever thought about volunteering at a public school? If you were required to pass a criminal background check first, would that encourage or discourage you?
Adults across the country are now asked to supply a background report before they’re allowed to volunteer at local schools. It wasn’t always this way. Years ago most people who volunteered were welcomed in without many questions asked. Times were simpler and safer back then. Today we live in a world where stories about sex offenders and pedophiles are common, and it’s hard to know whom to trust.
The Background Check Process
It varies from school to school, but the basic requirement for volunteers is they must fill out an application and sign a form that gives their consent for a background check. Those who don’t agree aren’t allowed to help out at school functions.
Requirements for volunteers could vary depending on what they hope to do. Volunteers can participate in a variety of activities from chaperoning school dances to supervising kids on overnight trips. Adults who wish to get deeply involved may need to provide an application, background report and letters of reference.
Schools request background checks because they supply a large amount of information about potential volunteers. A report indicates whether or not the subject has a criminal record, and if they do it provides specific details about the offense and sentencing.
The goal of this process is to protect children. A background screening notifies school officials if a volunteer might not be suited to spend time with young kids. Many parents applaud this policy, but some fear there is a downside.
Not everyone is in favor of requiring volunteers to undergo background checks. The primary concern is that it will discourage parents and other adults from getting involved with local schools. Although there are several objections, two seem to stand out above the rest.
Even the most upstanding adult could have something embarrassing in their past. It might be an arrest during their younger days, a bankruptcy when times were tough, or another personal issue they don’t want revealed. People with slightly checkered pasts may have worked hard to improve their lives for many years, and they don’t want to be forced to relive old memories.
Perhaps the biggest objection is the fact that hopeful volunteers are usually asked to pay for their own background check. These reports typically cost between $45 – $80, and that can be prohibitive for some. Schools could lose out on wonderful volunteers simply because the families simply aren’t able to afford the additional cost.
The End Result
Although there are concerns about the background screening policy many schools are adopting, in the end this is all being done to protect children. These days we constantly hear new stories about criminals who prey on young people, so we have to do everything possible to keep our children safe.
What do you think? Should schools require criminal background checks for every adult volunteer? Is this practice unfair? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.