The voice of reason returns to police checks for parents

Posted by Samantha on February 11, 2011 in Thought for the day |

It was with great relief that I heard the news today of the government’s intention to significantly curtail the vetting schemes for adults who come into contact with children and vulnerable adults.

In my opinion this announcement is a considerable victory for sanity; a great boost to truly responsible parenting; and a massive vote for children generally.

Most of the reporting on this issue is focusing on the civil liberties aspect of proposed changes.  But I am more interested in the way these regulations have affected parents, parenting and children.

I remember the day just a couple of months ago when I prepared to go to my daughter’s first Nativity play. There was an announcement on the radio from some governmental body who wanted to make it clear that parents WERE allowed to take photos at their children’s Nativity plays. 

The announcement was necessary because in the past few years the idea that it is somehow not okay for parents to inadvertently take photos of other people’s children has gained currency. 

This Nativity play kerfuffle and other related changes in how adults are now required to interact (or more accurately NOT interact) with children (e.g. nursery workers wearing gloves to change babies’ nappies; teachers not allowed to hug children; CRB checks for parent volunteers on school trips) are symptoms of a change in attitude towards adult-child interaction that has been overwhelmingly negative for parents, but also sadly for children.

In the words of the supremely eloquent Jennie Bristow

“…the weight of these regulations contributes to a sense of profound disorientation among adults…[and]… has the ultimate effect of de-skilling adults and making them unwilling or incapable of effectively socialising children.”

The negative effects of this are, I fear, only just beginning.  I have a deep sadness that many children may be lost to us as a result of legislation that was supposed to protect them.

But perhaps after today’s announcement we can begin to regain some moderation in our discussions of how best to safeguard children.

Perhaps we can begin to challenge the idea that children can be effectively protected if we can only get the technical certification process correct and vet the correct people the correct amount at the correct time.

Perhaps we can even return to our former understanding that it takes a village to raise a child: a real village, inhabited by real people, who have real relationships with real children whom they really know.

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