Monday, February 07, 2005

Background Screening

I have mixed feeligs toward background screening for volunteers....

First of all, because they tend not to be effective, especially about pedophiles who notoriously (95%) belong to the family of the victimized child or to "close family friends". Substance abuse screening has a little more sense, in that a subject can lie or even say "I am done with it" in good faith, but then be overwhelmed with symptom of dependence and give in, jeopardizing the safety of coworkers and/or clients.

Background checks sound to me like a definitive sentence, kind of "you made one mistake and you will pay it forever". It denies any possibility of recovery and real change in one's lifestyle. I know by experience that you can be manic or obsessed, situations in which your insight is impaired to the point you can commit a crime you later regret. I wouldn't feel like denying such opportunity to another fellow human, because I am not sure (not at all!) that people who make one mistake do so because they are evil, and/or beyond "repair".

Plus, people who made a mistake once and want to volunteer now, usually are persons that are trying to straighten their life up, otherwise they wouldn't choose to freely give some time away for the good of others.

Ultimately, background checks enhance in the public the perception that, in order to volunteer, one has to be perfect or so. That DOES deter people with low self-esteem, or the ones that don't feel like heros, from volunteering, which is a pity cause they would get to be the most dedicated and devoted ones.

However, it is a fact that some persons get to volunteer in order to take advantages of minors, or elderly people.

But are they the ones that have previously been in jail?

RARELY.

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