Rhode Island OKs bill allowing churches to background screen

Rhode Island OKs bill allowing churches to background screen

Excerpted from valleybreeze.com

The Rhode Island House of Representatives on June 14 unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Jason Knight to protect Rhode Island youth by requiring all adults who seek employment or volunteer opportunities with routine contact with children to submit to a national criminal background check if asked.

The legislation is meant to help churches and other religious institutions protect children from those who have a history of abuse or other dangerous crimes. It was introduced as a result of the May 2015 arrest of the director of religious education at Temple Habonim in Barrington in a statewide child pornography sweep.

The Barrington representative said he is well aware of the difficulties churches face in vetting volunteers to prevent such problems.

“Volunteers are what make churches and religious organizations what they are. While almost all of them will be upstanding people, there will always be the possibility that some volunteer could have a background that should preclude them from working with children,” he said. “Letting churches make a background check a requirement for volunteers and employees gives them a tool that will help them screen out those few and protect their members from undue risk. National criminal background checks are a readily available tool that will help churches keep children safe from those who might be volunteering for the wrong reasons.”

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