Should parents have the right to do background checks on those looking after their children?
Human rights weighs up the rights of the individual versus the good of society as a whole. Allowing background checks for concerned parents could potentially be in breach of the human rights of an individual; yet, they could be the answer to the end of child abuse and the key to allowing parents to protect their children.
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
Parents should be able to do everything to protect their children
When a person brings children into this world, adopts or assumes care for a child, they should be able to do everything possible to protect them. This cannot be done if there is a dangerous sex offender living next-door, who has slipped past the police and is in a position to abuse your child. Children are the most precious things in the world, the future of tomorrow. It is our duty to take care of them. Donald Findlater, of the child protection charity Lucy Faithfull Foundation, added: “The biggest risk to children is not from the registered sex offender who the police know and are managing; it is from the sex offender who is not registered and who no one knows about.”(1) In light of this, it seems more than reasonable that a parent should be able to ask the police to check records of someone who they think might be potentially dangerous. Surely it cannot be breaching an individual’s human rights for information on any violent or sexual crimes that may have been committed, in contrast with the safety of a child.
"Children are the most precious things in the world". I would argue there are two things which are more important than a single child.
-Fundamental Human Rights
Giving away such information takes away a persons right to privacy. They may never intend to touch a child again, the offence could have been consensual sex with a 15 year old who told the "Sex offender" they were 18, the "sex offender" could have been wrongly convicted. Whatever warrants the label sex offender will be punished by the state, there need be no more punishment when a sentence according to the judge has been served.
Giving away such information will lead to vigilantes, people taking the law into their own hands. One mistake should not lead to a life of torture.
If they have nothing to hide, then there will be no problem
Critics claim that background checking could be a violation of human rights. Human rights weigh up the rights of the individual against the overall welfare of society. If this is the case, surely the overall welfare of society would win – particularly if someone has nothing to hide, then they will not mind their past history becoming public knowledge. The only ones who would not allow their backgrounds to be checked out are the ones with something to hide.
Some individuals may have allegations on their record, known as ‘soft intelligence’, that come from unfounded sources. These may come up when being background checked and could not be completely reliable. The individual would not want this sort of information being known.
Single mothers can check out their new partner
Unfortunately in today’s society, some people are not what they appear to be. Karen Matthews, mother of Shannon Matthews, who went missing in February of this year, was living with her boyfriend for five years before it emerged that he had 49 images on his computer of child pornography. No matter how much you think you may know someone, you never can be too careful. This is why background checks can be so important. Imagine if something happened to Shannon or any of her siblings. It need not be a case of not trusting a new partner: it is acting in the best interests of your children, before allowing a potential stranger to come into contact with them.
If a new partner comes onto the scene, surely you should not be with them if you do not fully trust them to be with your children.
If the allegation or conviction came from an unfounded source, it can be deleted
Some allegations or convictions do not come from reliable sources. The individual need not be worried about these coming to light through a background check because they can be deleted. Employment barrister, Yvette Genn, receives an increasing number of calls from people wanting to know how such damaging intelligence can be deleted: “You can now apply to the Care Standards Tribunal to have information weeded out. Because in some cases, it may be a wholly unfounded allegation based on one anonymous source… The HRA is a balancing act between the privacy rights of an individual and the well-being of society. But if you could prove that the holding of such information was disproportionate, you might have an arguable case.”(1)
Great, just what this country needs, more litigation.
This would mean that a person would have to prove their innocence if such information came out on their record check. The idea behind the English legal system is innocent until proven guilty. The onus of proof is on the prosecution, they have to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. If a person had a slur on their record due to an unfounded, uninvestigated claim it would break against that traditional principle.
What police tell parents will be confidential
Critics also worry that once a parent knows that someone coming into contact with their child does have previous records for child abuse, not only will they withdraw the contact between them, they will also alert other parents to the situation. However, the parent will face penalties if they do so and the police have assessed that the situation is not dangerous. If the parents discloses information to any others, that lead to violence on the individual who has been background checked, they may face criminal prosecution. This protects all individual’s human rights.
Even if the individual is found by the police not too be dangerous, worried and concerned parents would struggle to keep the new-found information to themselves – particularly if they believe otherwise and are acting in what they think is in the best interests of the children involved.
Yes we want to know.
I would love to know if there was a peado living by my children(unless it was a case of the victim claiming they were old enough for consent) and yes I would let my neigbours know to protect their children and in so doing would be extra eyes looking out for my children. And YES I would that persons life uncomfortable because as sure as hell I don't want to move home.
yes yes yes check check check.
Yes let parents have the option to check someone to find out if someone is a pathetic peado. Save the children not the pathetic pervo. Anyone who objects to this have something to hide ?. And more street cameras will help society, that is if there is a real punishment for the offenders which unfortunately at the moment there is not.
Yes more checks more innocents saved.
Unfortunately and regrettably some of the swines will avoid being detected or informed about but it will save SOME children. We need more cameras all over the place,more readily available checks to find out WHO is living by our children. But what I feel we need and would be better is REAL DETERENT,there is non. Why protect them ? what good are they ? how soft is prison. Let them be named and shamed. Anyone who objects to a check must have something to hide.
Could spark a wave of suspicion and unnecessary claims
If parents are allowed to background check anyone who comes into contact with their children, it is possible that hundreds and possibly even thousands of individuals will come under scrutiny. Everyone would be suspicious of each other. It could spark off a ‘witch hunt’. Guy Herbert, general secretary of the civil liberties group No2ID, said: "It's virtually a return to the witch trials, and is the logical conclusion of our zero-trust society. Everybody is being encouraged to be suspicious of everybody else.”(1) The police would become inundated with calls from parents, who are perhaps too concerned and question every adult who forms a relationship with their children: neighbours; parents of their friends; school staff; club leaders – the list would go on and on.
Yes, it could possibly spark off a wave of suspicion, but this would all be settled when the background checks are returned. Many staff members, such as at schools and at clubs, are already background checked when they are employed, so that parents know they have no previous convictions that would deem them unsafe to work with children. The British Judo Association is just one example of a club who do this. Agreed with the above but for no opposite let it be a witch trials if you like. If it saves innocents,which it will,then so be it. Also it would stop a lot of it happening anyway and drive the sickos out, hurrah yes because the courts do not punish them.
Could lead to vigilante attacks
If a person is to be found with previous convictions for child abuse, has served their time and is deemed to be no longer dangerous to society, their details would become available to parents. Parents could act irrationally and organise attacks on the individual. This most certainly is not unheard of. Paedophiles have already been subject to attacks, abuse and taunting. This is obviously a breach of their human rights and could lead to a backlash against background checks.
If parents have a means to stay informed and alert to those people who may threaten their children, they are less likely to become afraid and angry to the point where they would take such action. Vigilante attacks are a means of action for parents who otherwise feel powerless to protect their children; if we can empower them with information, they will not need to go outside legal channels. wilkeyboy here agreeing with above,and yes let us know who they are. And to no opposite, who is going to object to a check unless they have something to hide ?. And yes we will(well I would) take the weak law into my own hands because the pathetic individuals have no deterent and no punishment when caught and no regard for the victim.
Could lead to unnecessary background checks
What is there to stop your next-door neighbour checking up on your previous history? Or your work colleagues, just being nosy? Children could prank call the service, to check up on their teachers. Would there be anything to stop such unnecessary checks being made?
The system to request information would be more involved than simply calling up and giving a name. A lengthy application form and ID check would be enough to deter those who were merely nosy, while allowing those who genuinely needed this information to obtain it.
Would be very hard to maintain
The service could receive hundreds or thousands of calls everyday. It would be very hard to maintain and a special sector of the police would have to be created just to deal with all this extra work.
In saving the lives and welfare of potentially thousands of children, this hardly matters. Yes, it would be extra work, but this does not compare to the welfare of the children of our society. It would also create many extra jobs and reduce unemployment in the country. Wilkseyboy agreeing wholeheartedly with above. To no opposite there are enough police and office staff to cover it. It will give many something to do anyway. I occasions I see them it is for the curry run in the cars or vans to avoid the 400 mtr walk,or on one of the many many tv programes,cops with cameras,cop chase etc etc. Prior to Christmas there were 7 tv programmes with different police authorities across the country. Yes, more cameras,more checks,and more parents informed about deviant characters. Children are more important.
Only two in three sexual predators have records
One third of sexual predators have managed to slip through the net, undetected by the police for whatever reason. An example of this is Ian Huntley, who was subject to rigorous background checking before being allowed to become a caretaker, before going on to murder Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. A subsequent enquiry revealed that, between 1995 and 2001, Huntley had sexual contact with eleven underage girls, ranging between 11 and 17 years old(1). Russell Lee commented: “The Criminal Records Bureau is only as effective as the information it can access”(2). Since roughly a third of sexual crimes are committed by people without a precious conviction, it is inevitable that some people with apparently excellent credentials but sinister intentions are going to get jobs working with children or vulnerable adults. And we will only know when it is too late.
It is inevitable that perhaps great atrocities will still, and perhaps always will happen. The aim of background checking is to help save as many youths as is possible and does not promise to save everyone. It merely encourages previous convictions to become knowledge to those who need it to protect their children. Combine this with the good works done by the police and hopefully more child abusers will obtain records which can be known by the appropriate people.
Some will still be able to fool the system
Fake identifications can be made to obtain jobs with children by paedophiles. An example of this would be paedophile James Chester, aged 22, who posed as a year ten student after obtaining fake identification and abducted and engaged in sexual activity with a thirteen year-old girl. He fooled the school and even the girl’s family into believing he was a fifteen year-old boy. Now this young girl is having counselling in an attempt to stop horrific flashbacks and put this whole experience behind her. How difficult would it be to obtain a fake birth certificate? The answer is, not very. Background checking would not be able to intervene and prevent abuse in this instance.
Just because there will be a few paedophiles who will be able to break against the system, does not mean that the system should not be employed. No system will catch all the paedophiles, or criminals for that matter, but society and government have to work together to find a variety of systems which will produce the combined affect of a decrease in the number of abductions.
What do you think?