Sunday, 16 August 2009

Wicked adults

We seem to be fast reaching a point in Britain where adults won't be allowed to have any contact with children unless they're expressly authorised to do so.

We're turning into a totally paranoid society which sees children as permanently threatened by sinister adults intent on molesting or harming them.

Where this raging hysteria has come from, I don't know. Every so often there are dramatic stories of children being attacked, but are they really any more frequent than fifty years ago?

The change in attitudes is extraordinary. When I was a child, I played on the streets for hours every day without the slightest fear of adults, and nothing serious ever happened to me. The only incident I can recall was at the age of ten when a man approached me in a department store, wanting to see my willy. And that was it. So why this sudden widespread alarm?

Anyone having regular contact with children is now vetted for a possible criminal record, and this screening will soon become stricter still with the start of the Vetting and Barring Scheme. You will then need an official permit that confirms you aren't any known threat to children.

Seeing all these precautions, children themselves must be getting terrified of adults and assuming that any adult they don't know might be about to attack them. The reality of course is that the vast majority of adults have no such intentions and seek only to protect and nurture children, just as they did when I was growing up.

But like many adults, when I'm out on my own nowadays and there are children nearby, I take care to avoid them in case the parents start wondering about me. As it is, they often give me suspicious looks, seeing as I have no companion.

The irony is that most child abuse is committed not by total strangers, however heavily vetted they may be, but by people already known to them, including parents and relatives. Yet relatives are always assumed to be safe and benign and incapable of doing harm.

There's something seriously topsy-turvy here.


  1. I totally agree,Nick, this random stranger thing is so outrageous and gives everyone a false sense of security.
    I have written about this myself. When I was a child every episode of attempted molestation, bar one, was made by a person known to my parents.
    Topsy Turvy world alright!

  2. Nick most child abuse is not committed whilst kids are playing in the street either! It's all online or behind closed doors. I know what you mean about wondering on your own. I take my camera everywhere and have to be very careful where I point my lens. It pisses me off because I'm not photographing children but if one runs into view I can't help it. I'm a photographer, not a paedophile! I'm actually fortunate that I'm not a man as I'd be viewed with even more suspicion.

  3. www - Absolutely, there's a false sense of security about those closest to the child. But is there even any real sense of security about other adults? How do you know whether they've been "vetted" or not? And was the vetting done properly? What nonsense it all is.

    Baino - Exactly, it can happen anywhere any time, so to really prevent child abuse you'd have to vet every single adult! And shouldn't the vetting be regularly updated? Talk about a bureaucratic monster!

  4. I was going to comment that in my experience, relatives are often more dangerous than strangers.

    There is a little fenced park near my home with swings, slides and other play equipment, and a sign on the gate states that no adult may enter without a child.

  5. Heart - No adult may enter without a child? That's pretty strict, I've never seen such a sign here. But it's certainly simpler than a whole lot of form-filling and record-checking.

  6. Very little of that paranoia here - no idea what the official statistics are either mind

  7. Quicky - Glad Hong Kong has a more relaxed attitude. I think Britain is getting uniquely paranoid, I don't really know why.

  8. We have not reached that stage yet here, but the "returned from the West", are over protective of their children and this is obviously a spill over from their brain washing over there. Not that we do not have horror stories, but by and large children are still allowed to give some joy to elders.

  9. At Sports day in a local Primary school here, the children were corralled in an area of their own between races, the parents were asked to stay on the other side of the track as it were, and told not to use cameras.

    I bring my camera with me when I go walking and try to snap when children or indeed adults are facing away. If they walk into shot it is their lookout.

  10. Ramana - Interesting that returnees have picked up that over-protectiveness. I think children here still give plenty of joy to others, it's just that adults are seen as a constant threat to that joy.

    Grannymar - That sort of segregation seems to be increasingly common. The children must be quite bewildered and upset by it.

  11. Yes, very scary how the majority of abusers are family.

    I feel sad that you feel you are regarded with suspicion when you are out. I hope that when I am out with my children,I have not made anyone feel like that.

  12. Suburbia - I'm sure you don't do that, but some parents definitely do. Or else it's just the general British suspiciousness of anyone doing anything!!

  13. It's a crazy world, isn't it?

    At my son's grammar school, they required anyone who volunteered on campus to have their fingerprints taken and cleared with police files before allowing you in. Yes, even for the parents.

  14. Megan - Wow, I thought Britain was Paranoid Nation Number One but that sounds even worse. At least we don't take school helpers' fingerprints or vet the parents - yet.

  15. It is very sad. And, like a lot of heath & safety issues, has been taken to extremes.