They are necessary.
Although the vast majority of volunteers are well intended, harmful adults sometimes slip through. Most programs have taken steps to conduct background checks but, for the most part, these efforts have been inconsistent. Only about half of U.S. States provide youth-serving organizations access to national FBI fingerprint, and two-thirds allow only a statewide background check. This makes it easy for a convicted perpetrator to pass undetected from one state to another. Indeed, in a screening program called SafteyNET (which MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership championed), over 6 percent of the 100,000 potential volunteer mentors who underwent FBI background checks had records of concern, including charges of rape, murder and extreme animal abuse. That’s 6,000 potentially inappropriate volunteers who could have been paired with children. Additionally, 41 percent of those crimes were committed in a state different from the potential volunteer’s location, meaning a statewide background check would not have revealed the crimes.