We'll all be fingerprinted in the end.
That's my prediction after seeing the support an elected official in Los Angeles County has received in his bid to make sure area ice-cream men and women are subject to background checks. "Ice-cream truck vendors are a prime example of someone that operates a business that caters to children as their primary clientele," Don Knabe reasons in a motion that passed the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. "We all have a duty and responsibility to protect our communities from situations and individuals that could put our children at risk." His solution? Subject ice-cream vendors and other people whose businesses bring them into contact with children to inkless, electronic fingerprinting as a condition of operating. The proposal was unanimously sent to county officials for review.
Practically speaking, the idea is suspect. 93 percent of juvenile sexual assault victims are abused by a family member or acquaintance, not a stranger. As well, the rate of serious violent crime against youths "declined 77 percent from 1994 to 2010," according to the Department of Justice.
More worrisome is the logic driving this proposal.
As a general proposition, the citizens of a free country should be presumed innocent, and spared having to prove their good character to the state, unless there is some cause to suspect them of being criminals. Narrow exceptions are probably necessary. I grant the compelling arguments in favor of background checks on guards at juvenile prisons and foster houses, given how common sexual abuse has proved to be in those settings, as well as inquiries into the backgrounds of folks working at nuclear power plants or researching epidemic viruses.