Who do you trust?
I have been involved with U.S FIRST robotics for about 6 years now. A matter of trust and friendship is what creates a strong foundation for any robotics team or business for that matter. Who you hire or have on as a volunteer are given typical applications and whatnot. These applications show specific abilities and various interests in the subject matter. But is that really enough? Should more be done to investigate a person of a possible shady past or deep, dark secret? It’s all on the matter of opinion.
I for one have been retired from my past team for about 2 years now. I’ve decided to go on my own separate way in efforts of helping other teams with scouting and to offer only opinions along the way. I enjoy it! It gives me a sensation that I have given back to the U.S FIRST community instead of serving full time on a team. Robotics will always be one of my passions and programming computer / palm pilots are always a joy.
Finding your notch on a robotics team shouldn’t be difficult. It is rather easy. Observe:
You + Special Skill or Knowledge X the Help of Others = Robot Team
The equation is fairly easy to understand unlike trying to understand NASA’s re-entry formula for Space Shuttles.
Ok, once you’ve obtained interested individuals committed to the project for 6 weeks straight and possibly even longer, who do you trust to do certain jobs? Of course the engineers and tool makers will definitely help in the design of a workable machine. Computer programmers will help with website design and robot interface. Math professionals will aid in keeping track of team funds. And of course others will volunteer in some fashion.
It cuts down to this. Who do you trust? Who do you believe will always keep a positive attitude and look on the brighter side of things? Advice is always around the corner whether with friends, teammates, or on the internet. I may be a fairly young individual for saying this, but if you truly knew a person deep down, would you allow your kids to be with a certain individual? It could be anyone, a friend, a sibling, an athletic group, a coach, or a teacher.
I’m not saying my city or town is perfect. Every place has small flaws. Whether its smog, or pollution, or some sort of ozone problem. Sometimes large corporations tend to flush out of business small mom and pop operations that have been around for nearly 30 years. Recently in Connecticut, I’m not going to mention the exact town for certain reasons but some individuals haven’t followed correct law. These laws are enforced all over the world and are certainly frowned upon when someone does break the law.
Now this is where trust and truth becomes a dominate factor. The trusting of an adult is what comforts the mind of a student. The truth of the adults past and present should be reviewed. In today’s society, the list of pedophile / offenders is increasing. New offenders are being added each week. http://www.state.ct.us/dps/Sor.htm
The specific town I am talking about has had 1 person added to this list. A new name will more than likely be added in the coming weeks. For those who know me personally you know who I’m talking about. Between us, we know both the individuals very well. We actually trusted these individuals in the working environment of the 6 weeks. One of the individuals did his time and has been rehabilitated. The other awaits investigation and possibly trial.
In closing, always trust and know the truth of the person next to you. If you believe a back round check is needed. Have it performed. Records are always readily available at Police Stations. This is a look out for anyone out there who may think they are dealing with a supposed pedophile. Take no chances. Take action immediately and always confront the suspect without delay for the actual truth………
First let me just point out thaty the name is FIRST, not US FIRST. http://web.archive.org/web/19961125044045/usfirst.org/news/960905.html
As for your post, you must have really spent a long time writing that. I’m really sorry to hear about what you found out. I have debated similar issues in classes at school. My class reached the general opinion that people should be allowed to know who they are dealing with but people with issues shouldn’t really be judged since they may have changed since then. Hrrrmmm.
Sorry I can’t really offer more of an opinion.
Sorry to hear about the things that happened, I pray that the victims find help to cope with these events. As for a general rule of thumb I think every team needs to follow: have at least 2 mentors/parents/adults present AT ALL TIMES. This ensures that
a) nothing happens
b) provides witness against false accusations
WOW… that is something that took me by surprise and took my breath away. YOU know as i think about it now, i thought robotics was a whole different world that none of htis stuff happens, but now i rmeber we are in the realy world were sin is dominant. I am sorry to hear that and now that i think aobut it. Its something that we all have to watch for no matter if you think a individual is your best friend. Even looking at it from a girls point of view. I thin another good standard rule if a girl i in a room to have another student or two not mentor or teacher or anything in the room. Believe i am not underestimating girls or anything. I was just siiting here thinking of the girls on my team and what if that did happen. I am good friends with girls on my team i would feel terrrible and if i knew i was in the other room i would ask myself why didnt i help.
I recently had a family member released, and I have not yet accepted how I will react to it. Do you really trust this person anymore? Can you trust your children around them? Were they really rehabilitated? These are always questions that will dwell…
I am however, surprised - that is these individuals were working with your team, they did not receive a background check. In the state of PA all individuals working in an educational or similar environment have to sign papers to release this type of information. My hs team actually had papers that the adults had to sign this past year regarding such issues.
First, lets get clear what you’re asking. It sounds, from the little information you’ve given, like you are refering to the possibility that one or more persons who have been convicted of sexual crimes involving minors might be helping your team.
Don’t allow this.
No matter how helpful these individuals might be. It will never be entirely safe for either your students or for them to be involved. Yes they may have “served their time”. Yes they may seem to be or may in fact be reformed. But it is not fair to allow them to be in a position to be tempted. They have already fallen once, it is oh so much easier to fall a second time.
Please notice I have focused on the need to protect the offender from the possibility of offending again. This is not because I think that he is a “bad” person or has not “paid his debt”. He may be very sincere in his belief that he is cured. He might even be right.
But do you both want to find out the hard way that he was sincerely mistaken? What happens then? He goes back into the justice system, this time as a repeat offender. That much bigger of a debt to pay, and a much harder time when he finishes paying.
Not to mention the damage done to his victims, which can be considerable and may have repercussions for decades to come.
Think of it this way, would you want to hire a reformed alcoholic as your wine steward? You might want to help him out. He might have been sober for years. But is it really a good idea to give him easy access to something you know he had a problem with in the past. What about the one time he has a bad day? Do you want to be the person who takes away the fences keeping him on the straight and narrow? If you are, then you are partially responsible for anything that happens afterward. This is true in a legal sense as well as a moral one. (It is the legal sense that will scare most school districts the most)
If you really want to help our formerly tipsy wine steward, you find him a different job. Like as a gardener.
BTW The two adult rule mentioned above is a good idea. We practice it ourselves and it certainly reduces the possibility of problems. But it does not entirely eliminate them. Ask any one of a number of youth organizations.
*Originally posted by sanddrag *
**First let me just point out thaty the name is FIRST, not US FIRST. http://web.archive.org/web/19961125044045/usfirst.org/news/960905.html
Not that it’s at all relevant to this topic, but I beg to differ. Officially it is:
US Foundation For The Inspiration And Recognition of
Science and Technology (FIRST)
200 Bedford Street
Manchester, NH 03101
… My class reached the general opinion that people should be allowed to know who they are dealing with but people with issues shouldn’t really be judged since they may have changed since then. … **
As I understand it, child molesters seldom, if ever, truly reform. Is it worth the consequence to buck those odds? My answer is a resounding NO-WAY. US FIRST must deliver known molesters from temptation by showing them the door, ASAP, end of story!
It’s FIRST, not USFIRST, as shown here (FIRST’s own material), Here, FIRST’s official FAQ sheet , and here - in Dean’s FIRST bio
This is a good discussion. I agree that a team should be protective and take a solid stance to put student’s safety ahead of the rights of a convicted criminal. Difficult choices may need to be made, and they should fall on the side to protect the students.
From what I hear, FIRST will be requiring some sort of mentor screening in the upcoming year. I am not sure how they are planning on doing it, but notice Here that they have already started this in FIRST LEGO League.
Not to belabor the point, but the IRS begs to differ too:
IMHO, it’s a distinction with a difference. I’d suggest that either designation is appropriate, except with respect to legal documents, which I suspect is where the young person has unfortunately come to know it as US FIRST.
*Originally posted by Jack Jones *
**As I understand it, child molesters seldom, if ever, truly reform. Is it worth the consequence to buck those odds? My answer is a resounding NO-WAY. US FIRST must deliver known molesters from temptation by showing them the door, ASAP, end of story! **
As a team we have done this even though the individual involved:
a) showed evidence of a changed life
b) was never arrested or convicted (though he admitted his deeds when confronted)
c) had not, to our knowledge, molested anybody in over thirty years
d) was a family member of one of our students
This individual is welcome to support the team by showing up at our fundraising events and attending our local regional. He has also helped by making prototype hardware, at home, with no students present. He does not travel with the team, nor does he attend team meetings any more.
Did we make a big deal about it? No. When team leadership became aware of the issue they simply went to him in private and asked if the allegations were true. When he admitted them he was asked not to be an official part of the team any longer. He agreed and that was the end of it. Most of the team never knew what happened.
Some of his family members are still dealing with the after effects of things he did many years ago. In some respects they will probably never be completely healed, though things are getting better slowly. The potential devestation this kind of behavior can cause is reason enough to remove such an individual from the possibility of a repetition. Letting somebody like this remain with a team is like playing with dynomite. Most of the time it is safe to handle, if you are careful. But if you screw up … somebody gets shredded.
It’s not worth the risk.
Just to clarify Vin’s post…
The individuals mentioned are are not currently involved with the team in question. One is long gone and the other is currently…detained.
Perhaps more info can flow after some time has passed and more facts become known, but for now, I think I’ll be a bit vague.
I don’t think a background check would have helped in either situation, and I also believe that they probably had to pass a background check to hold the jobs that they had. I’m not 100% sure of that, but I’ll check.
Having said that, we should be doing these types of checks on everyone involved with the program.
Thank you all for pointing out that U.S FIRST has changed to FIRST. In the future, usually just one post will do.
I have a couple more tips on protecting youth:
Background checks will NOT insure that your team members will never have bad experiences. However, they will insure that you have taken some basic steps to eliminate known problems, kind of like looking under the hood before buying a car. I think that failure to do a basic check on team leaders is irresponsible, or at least naive.
Also, take it seriously if someone expresses concern that a person has a problem in this area. Comments like, “I don’t think so-and-so should be involved with our team,” or, “I don’t leave my kids alone with him” should serve as a red flag–especially when it comes from a family member or close friend of the person. It can be difficult for victims to speak up about such things; if they speak, better listen! I’m not recommending a witch hunt or spreading unfounded gossip, but a discreet investigation of the facts would be in order.
FIRST has announced that all adult mentors will have to undergo a background check. It says nothing about anything in particular excluding an adult, but merely that they have to submit to one. My thought is that it will serve as a ‘heads up’ to a team, and they will decide where to go from there. Teams are suppost to get emails in October with details.
Volunteer Screening Announcement
Both high schools involved with our team have required that they will not allow 1 student and 1 adult to be alone together (unless they’re family). This goes for driving to competitions as well. The high schools have placed more strict rules regarding student/adult interaction. We’ve never really had a problem (that I am aware of), but that’s not to say it will never happen. I will admit that background checks help (I’ve had about 5 or 6 of them done), but will not ensure that it won’t happen. Not everyone gets caught for laws they break, whether it’s speeding, stealing or worse. If they got away with it once, they will most likely think they will get away with it again. My intent is not to strike fear, but rather to tell peeps to be cautious.
I don’t trust anyone in FIRST without taking a long, long time to evaluate someone and make informed decisions about their intent.
I used to be different. I used to give an implicit trust to people associated with FIRST because I felt that we really connected. I felt that we were all here for the benefit of one another, and in that sort of climate, it isn’t unreasonable to have no expectation of people hurting one another.
I used to believe that participants in FIRST – particularly those who’re beyond high school – were operating at some higher level; that they were driven toward creating a better world.
That simply isn’t the case. The participants of FIRST, with particular focus on those beyond high school, ironically, are no better, no more intelligent, and no more exemplary than anyone else.
My life has been endangered by individuals within FIRST’s hallowed halls on several occasions. The individuals involved have shared enormously private information about my life – an action not unlike telling a stranger where someone lives and when they won’t be home. It is, simply, outside the scope of relevant conversation among FIRST participants to be sharing this information under any circumstances.
The point is that bad things have happened and continue to happen in FIRST. There are people about who value their moral and personal agenda moreso than any person’s life. There are people who’s word is meaningless and hollow. There are people who, here among some of the most amazing individuals I’ve ever met, represent the lowest, most undesirable traits of humanity.
I personally have only seen great good come from the mentors and adults of FIRST teams. This is somewhat by chance I suppose and I am lucky. I feel that the change in policy to have background checks is a good step for FIRST. It will keep the program secure for everyone. I hope that everyone finds the small price to be negligible to the trust it ensures.
My sympathies to those who have had their trust broken.