- School volunteer charged with assaulting a child
- Church volunteer charged with stealing $32,000
- Braintree, MA volunteer charged with molesting kids
- Scouts Canada volunteer facing sexual assault charges
These are headlines for just one afternoon on an average day in an average week. What do they reveal? Volunteers are still harming children and stealing funds–perhaps in larger numbers than ever. Non-profit organizations and volunteer coordinators that have cut back on or eliminated volunteer background checks to save money might want to reconsider that action.
Most schools require volunteers to be screened prior to contact with children, but far too often there are no follow-up criminal history checks. Does the volunteer you screened five years ago still have a clean record? Or is he on probation for resisting police officers and failing to comply with bail conditions, as is the case for the volunteer soccer coach from our first headline?
Churches don’t always screen their volunteers—but just because someone is a loyal member doesn’t mean they won’t steal from the coffers, as was the case in the second headline.
The person in Braintree, Mass who allegedly assaulted two young boys (he pleaded not guilty) works for the Boston Housing Authority, is a Cub Scout leader and religious education teacher at his Catholic church. Can this be the first time he’s fallen through the cracks?
And in our final example, the young man facing the sexual assault charges had undergone a police records check and other screening procedures. Unfortunately, it doesn’t change the impact his actions will have on the lives of his alleged victims. Is more thorough screening called for when young men are placed in close proximity to young girls?
Remember that those who wish to harm children and other vulnerable people often place themselves in close proximity to them. If your volunteers have any contact with kids, the elderly, the disable or other vulnerable populations, perhaps it’s time to rethink your screening procedures to reduce the chance of harm as much as possible.