Hi Readers — Here’s a round-up bbfnahyfts
of Providence, Rhode Island-area schools that are making their parent volunteers get background checks, sent in by a gal named Rema. I know a lot of folks will say, “This makes sense! Can’t hurt — can only help!” but let’s consider whether that’s true.
*First of all, if there are any studies that show kids are getting molested right and left by parents who volunteer at recess duty or on field trips, I haven’t seen them. It seems kind of hard to molest a kid in the middle of a trip to the petting zoo. (To read how children are being discouraged from actually petting animals at the petting zoo — for health reasons — click here. But then don’t forget to come back! The bus leaves PROMPTLY at 2:15.)
*Secondly, the idea behind these background checks is that everyone who is innocent should be happy to be checked, so what’s the big deal? The big deal is that now we are treating everyone as GUILTY of unspeakable crimes against children, until proven otherwise. That is a strange view to have of humanity, not to mention a depressing one. It’s also wrong: Most people are not child rapists. (Something tabloid TV forgets.)
*Thirdly, and this is a topic I hope to get deeper into on a later post: even most of the folks who are ON the sex offender lists do not pose a threat to children. I know that sounds shocking, which is why we’ll revisit it. Suffice to say that if you are a 16-year-old who has consensual sex twice with a girl you think is about your age (who turns out to be 13), as was actually the case with a guy named Ricky, you can find yourself registered FOREVER as a “Tier 3 predator.” Your charge will read “lewd and lacivious acts with a child.”
Any parent reading that description would think, “Keep him AWAY!” But is a teen who had sex with another teen really a threat to our kids? Those sex offender lists are like bad data: They look like helpful information, but a lot of it is just garbage. I’d let Ricky chaperone my kids.
*Finally, this whole “background check” deal falls into the ever-growing category of trying to make extremely unlikely events extremely unlikely. Just as a manufacturer will recall a stroller if 1 child in 36,000 gets his fingers pinched in a wheel, just as a park district will remove all the merry-go-rounds lest some child possibly hurt herself, just as a principal will forbid kids from playing tag because someone could trip,we are now going to excessive lengths to make it harder for helpful parents to help a school, when we should be doing just the opposite.
Anyone who is willing to volunteer for lunch duty, or recess: God bless ’em. (I tried once, and fled.) –Lenore