From my mailbox:
Fadi Adawi, former Deputy County Sheriff in Californiaâ€™s Central Valley, took his career from fighting crime on the streets to developing one of the worldâ€™s largest websites, InstantCheckmate.com, which helps people be proactive about their safety. As a former law enforcement officer, Fadi learned that looks can be deceivingâ€”criminals often look just like you and me.
Fadi recommends using Instant Checkmate to screen the parents of your children’s friends to know who is supervising their play date…[and] to investigate your college daughterâ€™s new boyfriend to be sure he doesn’t have a criminal record, and much more….
â€œInstant Checkmate is a great resource to utilize for background checks in order to protect yourself and people you care forâ€”youâ€™d be shocked at what you might find,â€ said Adawi.
Have you heard the term “mission creep”? It’s when a mission keeps getting bigger and bigger — and hence, less focused on its original intent, more focused on justifying its expansion. Checkmate sounds like it was invented to check one’s mate. But seeing the large and lucrative market of parents out there, it looks like now it’s trying to make it seem normal to background check pretty much anyone and everyone your child encounters.
This is like the private version of the NSA. Maybe you start out looking for one thing, but pretty soon you are snooping on everyone everywhere. Once we have the means of spying on everyone, it’s hard to resist the urge not to. Or at least it’s harder when we’re being told, “Nothing is as it seems. Become all-knowing. Only THEN can you keep your loved ones (or country) safe.”
Know all, otherwise your children are in danger.Â
That’s one of the many mantras of modern parenting driving us crazy with fear, guilty and worry. It demands all our time. And it happily drains all our dollars. – L
As always, the idea seems to be that our kids are completely unable to protect themselves and that if something bad were to happen, the kids would be destroyed by it.
Evidently parents are powerful enough to control safety every moment in the life of their child but are completely helpless to get the kid through a bad event.
If it’s there to protect our kids, how come it’s not free,hmmm?
This program and the ad leave out the most important thing. If the background check reveals the parent of your child’s play date has a criminal record, it doesn’t mean they are in danger. The crime could be misconstrued or completely unrelated to kids. Even criminals can change their life.
It sounds a lot like the sex offenders register. It used to be specific, but now pretty much everyone can end up on the list without posing any threat whatsoever…
Wasn’t there an old movie (or was it a short story) where some lady was so freaked out by this kind of paranoia that she ended up killing her loved one or something? I seem to recall one called “You CAN Be Too Careful.” Seriously. There might be more than one out there. From back in the days when it wasn’t common knowledge that paranoia => security. ???
I have a friend who checks everyone out on the internet. Don’t tell her I said this, but SHE IS A LOON. Personally I can sense who’s slimy and who’s not. At least, I’ve been pretty accurate so far.
There’s also the idea that a “criminal record” means that you are a Terrible Person Who Is Unfit To Be Around Kids. First, what about people who are racially profiled, like this guy who was arrested multiple times for trespassing at his job, with his boss asking the cops not to arrest him? Second, honestly, I know lots of people with “criminal records” that reveal that they…shoplifted once as teenagers, or committed some kind of petty crime years ago. I am pretty sure that several of the people I dated in college had “criminal records” of this kind, and they’d grown up since then.
Well, It’s a bit of a conflict of interest when the former Deputy County Sheriff recommends a product that he’s personally invested in as an entrepreneur. This “recommendation” is, of course, pure marketing, and should be seen for what it is.
I could have done a million background checks and never known that my 6 year old daughter was in the car and home of an alcoholic, suicidal mom. I somehow doubt that would’ve come up on a check.
When this woman killed herself, many of her demons were made public. Otherwise, nobody could have ever known.
We can’t protect our children from everything. It was scary, but it didn’t make me investigate the background of every parent involved with my children. It was a one-off and I KNEW that.
Perspective is everything and these companies are skewing perspectives for their financial gain.
When I was a kid, we just jumped on our bikes and rode to each other’s houses.
Personally I wouldn’t find it strange at all if I invited my kid’s friend to a playdate and the other kid’s dad asked for my Social Security Number…
I must be in competition with Lenore for the title of “Worst Mom” because I never did a background check on my son’s friends’ parents. I dropped him off for birthday parties and let him do sleepovers without doing an extensive investigation on the parents. It’s a wonder that the German version of CPS has not come after me!
You can do all the background checks in the world and a sex offender can come up clean. Case in point: Someone that I indirectly worked with was arrested earlier this year for soliciting minors for sexual purposes over the Internet. He was part of a ring that did that. To get his job, he had to pass an extensive background check. People need to put their faith in their instincts and “creep factor radar” more than a background check.
I share your feelings about this issue, but I’m curious to know what you think about kids having playdates when you know/suspect that the parent/family keeps a gun in their house. At this point I don’t believe we have many friends like that, but there are stories about kids getting their hands on guns that aren’t locked down. I don’t buy into all the fear, but a recent article caught my attention. Once again, I think it goes back to teaching kids not to pick up a weapon like that at a playdate in the first place, but just curious what your thoughts are. Thanks.
I know here in Ontario, an actual background check has to be authorized by the person being checked out. You would think it would be the same anywhere. Even employers must have written consent.
Just more of your rights erroded.
Well, if you need to use this kind of thing, you are OBVIOUSLY interacting with parents of the wrong sort.
I mean, personally, all of the parents we associate with generally cover the exchange of legal trouble and close call stories upfront, at the “getting to know you” coffee stage. Usually, right after we compare tattoos. Then we move on to psycho exes. 😛
This assumes that one will actually LEAVE a child at a playdate. We all know a good parent would never take her eyes off of her child for that long, except to send the child to prison…errr…school for the day.
If I knew a parent had a gun in his house, I would:
(a) be glad I have had the talk with my kids about not touching guns without parental permission and supervision;
(b) base my “trust” decisions on the overall picture, just like I would if they didn’t have a gun.
My parents and sister have guns, and my kids go for sleepovers at their homes often. I trust my sister and my parents to have sense regarding kids and guns. In general, the people I’d trust my kids with are not statistically likely to be unsafe with guns. I would never confront/interrogate someone about their gun habits, as I’ve seen suggested in some places.
This makes kids playing outside with other kids and no adults clearly the safest choice of all.
@gap.runner: More like ‘most normal mom’…
Someone on the news yesterday just asked pedophiles what kids could do to prevent being molested, and the basic answer was ‘say no / cry / scream’ – in other words, make it very clear you don’t want this to happen. (This was in the context of those pedophiles who bond with the child and are generally nice to them, believing they have a ‘relationship’.)(And no, this isn’t victim-blaming any more than teaching kids not to run into the street.)
KLY said: “Well, if you need to use this kind of thing, you are OBVIOUSLY interacting with parents of the wrong sort.”
Not necessarily true. There’s so much fear out there, that people could use it on perfectly trustworthy people out of sheer fear.
@tana: I don’t really see the difference between school and prison anymore. You’re bossed around, you get low-quality food and you’re stuck behind a fence until you’re allowed out. The only real difference is that school is supposedly safer, but not because of that fence. I get really riled up about fencing school, because pretty much all schools here in the Netherlands are now fenced up, with no obvious reason for it…
“Iâ€™m curious to know what you think about kids having playdates when you know/suspect that the parent/family keeps a gun in their house.”
You can always ask the parents if they have a gun. And then you can ask how it is secured. I keep mine on a high shelf in a locked case (and the bullets are elsewhere in the house). And would not be offended if someone asked.
Much more importantly, your kids should know what to do (or, more to the point, NOT TO DO) if they come across a gun. I’d suggest taking your kids to a gun range (and shooting some hand guns!) when they are old enough (8? 10?) … this does wonders to make guns less of a “forbidden fruit.”
Yeah, don’t take the time to talk to and get to know your own child’s friends and their parents. Don’t waste the effort to speak often to your children about what they should expect from others and what they can do to keep themselves safe in any given situation. Don’t bother parenting, folks, just use this lovely tool to check and make sure the people around your kids haven’t been caught doing anything illegal. Sheesh!
@KLY – love it!
@Ben – are the fences to keep in kids who are ‘runners’? We’ve had a few fences go in over the last few years to prevent autistic kids doing a runner, generally for their own safety. Most children can run faster than their oft-middle-aged teachers. Personally I don’t have a problem with it – I would have loved a fence in my first job, when I had to hold one of my kids either on my lap or by the wrist for the first two terms. If I didn’t, off he’d go, laughing out of the school and off home. Not upset by school, just very naughty and a total attention-seeker.
About the original topic, am not sure how it could possibly be legal, even in the US. Even doctors here have been censured for looking at the medical records of patients not their own, and if I remember rightly about a year ago some staff from Work and Income lost their jobs over accessing information unnecessarily on clients. And yet this guy can give you, Joe Public, access to peoples’ criminal history? Sounds very odd to me.
Also quite unnecessary. Some of the nicest people I’ve met have criminal histories, and some others probably should but don’t. All of it nothing to do with kids, and no way would they have involved kids, mine or others, in their activities anyway.
I remember being told I had to start asking the “gun questions” when my youngest became playdate age and we were living in the US. It was part of what got me so excited to leave. Ahhhhâ€¦. don’t have to ask those questions. The chances of someone having handguns lying around their homes here is between slim and none.
However, I’m pretty sure that my ex has a gun of some sort, my son says he keeps it under the bed, I have no idea where the ammo is stored in relation to the gun, and I don’t know what kind of gun it is. From the stories my ex used to tell about his relationship to guns, it is a source of great concern, but I put it out of my head because what the hell can I do about it, really?
I tell the kids to run away if they ever see a “real” gun, either sitting somewhere, or in the hands of a friend. I’m guessing they won’t be hanging around adults fondling weapons. 🙂
This reminds me of my stepmother. Whenever I or one of my siblings meets someone, she Googles them to death. She’s found insane amounts of information doing this, once she actually found the floor plans of someone’s house and remarked how we could basically plan a burglery of their house. How many times has she found out that one of her clients or friend of her kid’s was a dangerous criminal? Not once!
Even if it turns out that they do have a criminal record of some sorts, odds are it’s still nothing to be concerned about. Obviously if the person got in trouble for kiddie fiddling before, yeah, I wouldn’t like that either. But if they got caught shoplifting a pack of gum in high school or got pulled over with some pot on them-well, who cares? You can commit a lot of crimes without necessarily being dangerous- but that’s not how these people will see it.
And on the original topic: I don’t care about criminal records when it comes to friends and acquaintances. May sound radical, but I don’t. Any more than I care about their level of education. I like you, I enjoy you, or I don’t.
I refuse to stigmatize anyone who has a criminal record. Lord almighty, let’s take people for who they are, right now.
@Ben: Isn’t that more about vandal concerns? And/or that people who live around that school don’t want teens to hang out there?
@hineata: Hahaha – at least that would have kept me in when I’d been daydreaming and went home using my usual short cut when we went out 15 minutes before the end of the day to (I don’t know I wasn’t there) check out the flowers in the gardens of the people across the street for biology or something. Whoops 🙂
To the person who asked about houses with guns – teach your children gun safety, and you shouldn’t have to worry. Show them the Eddie Eagle cartoon/video is they are young. Demystify guns for them, so they aren’t an attraction. If they are older, consider taking them a range or a gun safety class and learning the basic rules. If you’re legitimately worried the parents are irresponsible about guns, you might not want your kids playing with that kid anyway. I try to avoid letting my kids hang out at the houses of people I believe to be highly irresponsible. But guns are no different than, say pools (which kill about 100 times more kids a year). Teach your kid to swim, discuss water safety, and you won’t have to worry about the pool at their friend’s house. They could still drown through some freak accident, but it’s not likely to happen, and no sense worrying about it.
I don’t even bother to MEET the parents of the kids mine are playing with and I never have. Do not care. When they were little they’d play with the children of friends but not because it was a playdate but because I was hanging out with my friend and they were left to entertain themselves.
I’ll never understand this whole playdate thing, much less the idea of doing a background check!
Absent something that triggers a serious concern, I can’t see do a background check. I figure if I make a minimal effort to know the parents of my kid’s friends, then it wouldn’t be necessary. As for guns, it is pretty much the same thing. I own plenty, so I am not going to assume that they are being stupid.
Criminal records, unless sealed, are public.
Annie Wegner LeFort, about guns in the home. I teach my kids about guns. First, don’t touch them. Get a parent if the other kid wants to show it off.
Second – my kids are NOT ALLOWED in the bedrooms of their friends parents, nor are visiting kids allowed in MY bedroom.
Third – my kids are not allowed to be at friends’ houses when parents are not home or are asleep (during the day.) I do leave my kids home alone, and they are not allowed to have friends on the property when I am not home – but they are allowed to go to the friend’s house, provided parents are home.
Very few people today leave handguns, shotguns or rifles out in the open, or any place that kids might accidentally find them – unless the kids are in the parent’s room. Some may be in the open – particularly if they have issues with coyotes attacking their livestock or such. But most Americans don’t live like that and if they do, you will probably know.
DO follow your gut if you think that things are not “right”. I have had neighbors whom I am pretty sure were making meth, shot guns across the road into the woods, and doing other unsafe things that just didn’t sit right with me or my husband. The kids were allowed to come and play at my house, but my kids were not allowed inside to play at their house. Gut proved right – they ended up being scum and sadly the kids were all spit up among various foster homes and grandparents.
Oh, and that family would not have shown up on any list – they had never been caught. Except the son who came home from jail…but I already wasn’t letting my kids play inside there because my gut said it wasn’t safe or appropriate. (Mom walked around with tight tank tops with no bra…white tanks, that were thin…nah, my boys don’t need to show extra interest in that at a young age!)
This almost sounds like David Brin’s sousveillance to me. At least, if NSA & FBI people can be looked up on it by anyone. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/
Gina, that is really sad. Along those lines, how do you deal with adults who drive drunk with family members? I had a cousin who was always drove drunk with her kids and wanted to take my son along for play dates. When I finally had the courage to say something, it was an explosion.
Speaking as the daughter of an alcoholic in denial*, you just have to put up with the explosion. “You are behaving dangerously and I will no longer permit you to have responsibility for my children” isn’t over the line if it’s true!
Also, do I really live in the only state in the Union where you can look up anybody’s criminal record on the Internet if you have the correct spelling of their first and last name? It’s right on our state website.
*Dead, so her alcoholism is no longer something only she can say she has.
” I am pretty sure that several of the people I dated in college had â€œcriminal recordsâ€ of this kind, and theyâ€™d grown up since then.”
you get a criminal record for speeding, if you fail to pay the ticket or appeal and the appeal gets denied…
That’s probably the largest group of “criminals” out there.
In at least one area (Seattle I think I read this about) there’s “felony jaywalking”, so crossing the street away from a pedestrian crossing can land you a criminal record.
@J.T. Wenting “… felony jaywalking, so crossing the street away from a pedestrian crossing can land you a criminal record.”
I through that you exagerate, but googled it anyway. I found this: “In Florida, Orange County prosecutors are asking local police to arrest mothers seen crossing the street with children outside of a crosswalk. Prosecutors believe they can charge offenders with felony child neglect” which carry “maximum punishment for the offense is a $5000 fine and five years in prison.”
Seems like law system over there really love locking up people. Is there anything that is not arrestable offence? I can not figure out who profits from laws like this and why people go along with that.
Anyway, I would not mind my kids to be with somebody who was arrested for jaywalking or who was arrested for disputing school policy or any other of these horrible criminal acts.
A shameless marketing ploy to capitalize on a preceived fear….
@everydayrose, I’ve got grown kids now, but I’m not sure I subscribe to the idea of not caring about the parents of my kids. When my son was in Elem school, I got a couple of bad vibes from a set of parents who ended up having some difficulties later that confirmed my unease. I was relieved that he’d spent only 1 day at their home. With older kids, you face the challenge of parents that allow things you don’t (like underage drinking), etc. Yes, it’s my kid’s responsibility to make good choices, but when a parent endorses the idea of drinking because they are there, it’s not always a black/white issue. I speak from experience, when other kids showed up to join this “supervised drinking”, made a scene when asked to leave, a neighbor called the police. The small group of kids there all got drinking citations and the Dad got a citation as well (contributing to delinquency).
Other parents I know have admitted they let their child drink at home, but they will not serve other kids unless their parents agree. Sometimes it’s good to know — give you discussion points with your kids as well.
As someone already pointed out, background checks aren’t going to reveal things like that. I would never bother to do such a thing anyway, but I do think that meeting the parents that are supervising your kids isn’t a terrible idea.
Ugh…not *caring about the parents of my kid’s FRIENDS*
One of the things we have talked to our teens about is how to get out of an uncomfortable situation. We give them a likely scenario and ask how they would handle themselves. Not all kids are going to be able to “just say no”. If they have thought about their responses ahead of time, they are more likely to be able to behave appropriately. Any time they need to get out of a situation, they know they can blame their horrible parents! They can call anytime/anywhere for a ride home, no questions asked.
@katrina – yup I agree. We say “blame us” all the time. But in some cases, when another adult is endorsing certain behaviors, it’s a little harder to convince yourself it’s bad/risky. And in the case I’m describing, we’re talking about kids that were WAY younger than the drinking age.
Anyway – I was just suggesting that it’s not anti-Free Range to know who your kids are being supervised by.
This is no different than how people got to think the way they do now, regarding children “safety”. Or “safety” in general. One fear leads to another, to another, making weak minds (seems to be a majority of people these days) susceptible to “suggestions” from people in business. Again, not so much about the kids, but the adults running things. Their benefit, not the children’s.
When all it really takes, is being a responsible parent, who uses common sense and logic, and TEACHES their kids how to protect themselves. Not rely on some device, website, or here say from like weak minded individuals. Sure there are tools and resources to assist in the safety of our kids. But the BEST way, is the old, tried and true way of TEACHING them how to protect themselves. When you don’t teach the basic essentials for developing human beings, the children grow up constantly relying on others, and things to do things for them. That’s like giving your kid a shield and sword (because that’s what society says will protect them), then throw them in a pit of hungry tigers. WITHOUT ever teaching them how to actually fend them off or kill them. Of course this is an analogy. But same principle of thought. No “armor” or “sword” in the world compares to the ingenuity, intelligence, and will we all possess. Children have these too, no one encourages or nurtures it though. So it gets forgotten, or becomes ineffective due to lack of use.
@SKL’s “Personally I can sense whoâ€™s slimy and whoâ€™s not. At least, Iâ€™ve been pretty accurate so far.”
That’s because we were taught to use our built-in “danger meter” when we were kids. And we’ve honed what we’ve been taught. We don’t need no stinking website to tell us who’s bad, and who’s not. It’s called common sense, based on observation and intuition, from our own experiences. Mine has never let me down. And I teach mine the same way. I’m confident to let him wait outside the washroom for me. I don’t make him come in with me, if he doesn’t have to go himself. His “danger meter” works just fine with or without me there.
Priests, Doctors, Teachers, Police Officers, Aunts, Uncles, Fathers, Mothers. Many of these people will not have a criminal record. But these are the same people we end up hearing, watching or reading about who abducted, molested, raped, or abused children. More than “strangers”.
Just like the weight loss industry, this site and others like it, are just cash cows primarily. Using the fears and weaknesses of people to cash in. I’m in the wrong business. lol If I didn’t have a conscience, I’d be rich too.
@E I think the disconnect here is the idea that other kids’ parents are ‘supervising’ my kids. That’s not happening. I live in an apartment with tons of other kids. When my kids are home they spent most of their time outside playing. I don’t know where they are or what they’re doing. They will occasionally call me and tell me they’ll be at so-and-so’s home. Usually there are parents there but my kids are free to walk out the door at any time. My 12 year old has had a few sleepovers but it’s in the building next to mine and she has the ability to come home at any time.
I can’t imagine that any of these other parents are paying any more attention than I am when the kids are playing. If somebody gets hurt I check in or if they’re too loud I stick my head out of my window and tell them to knock it off. I guess you could call that supervision but it’s definitely minimal. I don’t even know these kids names.
Outside of our community my kids are welcome to walk, ride their bikes, or bus anywhere that they want to go. They’re capable of getting themselves to and from places without anyone else’s help. While they’re out and about doing whatever they supervise themselves.
I know absolutely that my kids are capable of navigating through the world without some adult peering over their shoulders to make sure everything’s alright. Besides…what am I REALLY going to learn in that 2 minute meeting with the other parents? I’ve found that I get the most information from my kids talking to me about their experiences. If something comes up that seems questionable we talk about it and possibly adjust behaviour from there.
I just went to that site and found a big ! next to my name and this warning: WARNING: This background report is very graphic. We do not censor our reports. We trust you to use this information responsibly. Please do not abuse this tool, or we could be forced to take it offline. The content of the report might shock you, so please prepare yourself for the unexpected.
Ummm. Yeah. I’ve never even had a parking ticket let alone anything serious. They had my name, age and location correct, so anyone looking for me would see that and if they paid they could see more. I was unable to see my ‘record’ because I wouldn’t give them any money, but given the little I did see I wouldn’t believe anything listed there anyway.
@Snow: Again, in my state at least, you can look up all of this information online in detail and for free.
Unless mine is the only one in all 50 states and the District of Columbia that doesn’t charge for access to court records, THIS IS A BIG FAT SCAM.
@everydayrose, I see what you are saying and you make a good point. In the cases I was recalling, it was when my kids were at places they couldn’t just walk home from, and there was a plan for them to be there for a length of time.
Maybe it’s just because despite our best efforts, my kids haven’t always made the “right” choice. It was frustrating to learn that a parent endorsed an illegal activity for someone else’s kids.
Then again, I dated a guy in HS whose parents grew pot on their patio and I never smoked with them, lol.
Jenny, I just looked it up and there is a fee involved where I am.
I passed a pretty extensive and REAL background check not long ago for a job which further shows me that the one in this post is a crock.
Has Adawi submitted to a background check and shared the report on the Internet? Seems reasonable to me before I believe one thing he says.
I give up. I’m going to lock my children up in a deep room located far underground where nobody can find them. Don’t want them getting hurt.
Spying on your college daughter’s boyfriend? Spying into the bedroom of your teenage daughter with a hidden camera is bad enough, but aren’t there laws to protect legal adults from this sort of stuff? I am not a fan of rules, but is this really a Sheriff (supposed to protect… HA HA HA yeah right!), advocating you spy on someone’s private life? Don’t people get restraining orders to avoid -there is a word for it- STALKERS?!
The short-sightedness of parents of millennials and millennial parents is amazing. My mother in law is one such example. She never really thought about whether or not she wanted to have contact with her future grandchildren. She never really thought that one day, she would live with the consequences of having done wrongs against her son, and think about a future daughter-in-law keeping her on her toes for it. Not serious things, but enough to be weary of leaving own children with her.
I have to forgive her or my own self will not have peace. Haha, but remember and be warned: Someday there will be someone next to your son or daughter, and you will have to go through them to see your grandchildren, so think twice before spying on the potential spouse of your offspring, or your actual offspring. Not to say that everyone carries angst, but a good impression is best and translates to more grandchildren time.
God I’ve got too much time on my hands.