Thursday, July 24, 2014

TRUST BUT VERIFY


I almost want to apologize for what I am about to write--almost. It is a disturbing topic but recent news stories have awakened a muse that will not be satisfied until I write these words. I admit to the use of 20-20 hindsight. I’m not sorry for that; Hindsight can often result in foresight.

Story 1
Story 2

Two of the most heinous crimes against children in the history of the Shoals occurred at churches located in Sheffield and Muscle Shoals this year. What really gets my goose is the fact that these predators probably could have been stopped long ago if someone, anyone, would have simply bothered to pay attention. For example, the incidents in Sheffield could have been prevented had someone made a couple of phone calls or spent $25 on a background check at
www.Intelius.com. The incidents in Muscle Shoals might have been prevented had the church installed technology to monitor internet use or otherwise employed common sense policies such as, oh I dunno, “no unsupervised sleepovers” perhaps?

Anyone who works with children at a church, synagogue, child care center, or family-friendly gym should be more than willing to be 100% transparent while performing their duties. They should ask, nay BEG, to be held accountable.

I was a volunteer youth soccer coach for over 15 years. One of the very first rules we agreed on is that we were to never allow ourselves to be left alone with someone else’s child. Never! This is for the protection of the child, of course, but it also protects the coach from false claims. This same rule applies to public school teachers and other similar organizations. It is a blindingly obvious rule but some organizations obviously haven’t adopted it. Why?

We now have technology that can enhance accountability. For example, a product called X3Watch is designed for people who need to be transparent or want to be held accountable. You install this software on each of your devices (smart phone, tablet, computers) and it reports your online activity to an “accountability team” that you designate. It can help protect the adult from litigation and the child from predation. Check it out at x3watch.com.

My company does business with a few organizations that deal with children. Our clients are smart and charged us with installing technology that enhances accountability. Among these
measures are internet “appliances” that filter obscene material, log internet activity, or otherwise restrict access to websites that are counterproductive.

Of course we parents don’t get off scott free here. We must demand better accountability. We must be more vigilant. We must ultimately trust certain people in our children’s lives but we still have to watch for the monsters. The bottom line here is that if you are in a business that deals with children, you better step up your game starting yesterday. Parents are going to demand it and you better listen.

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