We approach othersí children at our peril
2009-08-18 0:00

By Jenni Russell | TimesOnline.co.uk

Thereís just one element of the stories of my childhood that fascinates my own children. Itís not the absence of mobile phones, or the idea of a world before the internet. Itís the fact that so many of my small crises ended in the same way: with my being rescued by the kind intervention of an unknown man.

Whether I was a nine-year-old being kicked to the ground by a gang of girls in the park, a 14-year-old lost in the Welsh hills on a walking holiday or a 12-year-old who had taken a bad fall from a horse and couldnít ride home, it was adult men who stepped in without hesitation to stop the fighting or give me a lift or bandage my grazed arms.

I might as well be telling my children about life with the Cherokee Indians. This isnít a world they know, where children expect to explore by themselves and where passing men and women are the people you turn to when things go wrong. Their generation have been taught from the time they start school that all strangers may be dangerous and all men are threats. So children have become frightened of adults, and adults Ė terrified that any interaction of theirs might be misinterpreted Ė have become equally frightened of them.

When my offspring and their friends have been mugged on buses, or attacked on the street by teenagers, no one has helped. Every passing adult has looked the other way. The idea that itís the responsibility of grown-ups to look out for one anotherís young is disappearing fast. That isnít making our children safer. Itís making their lives more fearful, more dangerous and more constrained.

Last week the charity Living Streets reported that half of all five to 10-year-olds have never played in their own streets. Almost nine in 10 of their grandparents had played out and so had many of their parents, but now children were kept inside, imprisoned by the twin fears of traffic and paedophiles. As the Play England organisation has found, parents keep them in because they believe that if they arenít watching over their child, no other adult will do it for them. Older children, too, are affected. Two years ago research by the Childrenís Society showed that 43% of parents thought children shouldnít be allowed out on their own until they were 14.

What began 25 years or so ago as an understandable desire to raise awareness of child abuse is turning into something extremely destructive Ė an instinctive suspicion of any encounter between grown-ups and unrelated children. It has happened without any political debate or rational discussion. Itís starting to poison our society. And with every passing month itís getting worse.

Last month in Bedfordshire, 270 children from four primary schools had their annual sports day without the normal audience of proud parents watching them compete. All adults except teachers were banned. The reason? The organisers could not guarantee that an unsupervised adult might not molest a child. They preferred the certainty of ruining the pleasure of hundreds, and the instilling of general paranoia, to the phenomenally slight possibility of a sexual attack.

This is part of an insidious new orthodoxy thatís taking hold: that only authorised adults have any business engaging with children. It is no longer just about sexual abuse. In Twickenham last month the mother of a fiveĖ year-old who was being bullied decided to talk to the offender. She knelt by his chair and asked him politely to stop. The next day she was banned from the classroom for doing something that would have been regarded as rational and responsible behaviour at any other time in the past century.

Much worse was to happen a few days later to Anisa Borsberry, from Tyne and Wear, whose 11-year-old was being bullied by agroup of girls. She, too, asked the bullies to stop. In retaliation, and knowing what a powerful weapon this was to use against an adult, the girls claimed Borsberry had assaulted them. Within hours they admitted lying. Nevertheless, the accusation of assault against a child is regarded as so serious that Borsberry was handcuffed in her home and held in police cells for five hours before hearing that no further action was being taken.

Or there is the case of Carol Hill, the Essex dinner lady threatened with dismissal for telling a mother she was sorry her daughter had been tied up and whipped in the playground. Normal, empathetic human behaviour, you might think. That wasnít the schoolís reaction. Hill was suspended for breaching ďpupil confidentialityĒ.

In every one of these cases a woman has been punished for daring to do what adults have always done in every society: uphold norms of behaviour by talking about them. But it has blown up in their faces because new unwritten rules about engaging with children are apparently being invented every day. The extent of societyís neurosis means the consequences of approaching children are becoming alarmingly unpredictable.

Thatís as true for professionals as for anyone else. Traditionally, teachers have been thought of as potential mentors for children or confidants for those in distress. Increasingly they are being warned away from that role and told to keep their distance by schools. Nowhere is that made clearer than in a draft advice guide for teachers issued this spring by the Purcell school for young musicians.

The guide begins by telling staff: ďSome adolescents experience periods of profound emotional disturbance and turmoil when they may be unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. They may even be temporarily insane. They can thus present a danger to even the most careful of teachers.Ē This is child as wild animal; one that may bite at any moment. Teachers are told not to talk to pupils after coaching sessions, but to ďusher them out of the room in a brisk nononsense mannerĒ. They are told never to text pupils from their private mobiles, but to buy a second one for school use. This ďshould only be used for arranging appointments; chit chat should be avoidedĒ. Nor can a teacher ever be alone with a pupil in a car, except in case of medical emergency, when the child must be seated in the back, a written record made of time, date and place and a telephone call made to the pupilís parents to justify it.

The guide concludes that these procedures must become second nature, as any child may accuse a teacher and ďyour accuser could be of unsound mindĒ. It finishes with this chilling sentence: ďIt is helpful to think of current pupils as clients, rather than friends, as a doctor does.Ē

That these norms are taking hold is a sign of a sick society. What we are creating here is mass mutual distrust. First, children were warned about adults; now adults are being warned about children. It is bad for all of us; bad for our humanity, our happiness and our sense of belonging to anything but a narrow, trusted group. It is also disastrous for any hope of improving social mobility or social cohesion. The effects of this coldness and detachment will be worst for those who need adult guidance and contact most: those children who are growing up without strong social networks around them.

The Labour government appears to understand none of these dangers. Obsessed with physical safety, it is bringing in a screening authority this autumn, one that will cover perhaps one in four adults. It wonít acknowledge the psychological and social disaster thatís unfolding now, nor the pointlessness of much of the exercise. Most abuse is, after all, carried out in the home, and determined abusers will always evade the rules. David Cameron has made some of the right noises by saying childrenís behaviour should be a matter for all adults. It will take extraordinary determination to dismantle the walls of suspicion that we have begun to build.

Article from: TimesOnline.co.uk





'Sin Bins' For the Worst Families

Brian Gerrish - Common Purpose & Neuro Linguistic Programming

Niki Raapana - The Anti Communitarian League

Priests can't kiss or tickle children, archdiocese says

ĎPut CCTV in addictsí homes to protect childrení

Common Purpose (CP)
- a hidden menace in our government and schools



Related Articles
Brian Gerrish - Common Purpose, New World Order, Fifth Column (Video)
A Common Purpose?
Life Sentences and the Fates of Children
Children traumatised by 'War of Worlds' abduction of teacher
Little Brother is watching you: Children of ten are taught how to spot a terrorist in police DVD
Is Army Abusing Children With its Latest Experiment, the Army Experience Center?
Children tracked by sat nav to stop bad behaviour
Schoolchildren recruited by councils to spy on neighbours who commit 'environmental crimes'
Is Computer Use Changing Children?
German Children Ccaught Kissing Face Jail
Children to nag adults through CCTV
School scans children's prints
The children drugged for being naughty
Fantasist hired as social worker after council fails to check record
Social isolation a significant health issue


Latest News from our Front Page

Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female
2015-04-25 4:52
Shieldmaidens are not a myth! A recent archaeological discovery has shattered the stereotype of exclusively male Viking warriors sailing out to war while their long-suffering wives wait at home with baby Vikings. (We knew it! We always knew it.) Plus, some other findings are challenging that whole ‚Äúrape and pillage‚ÄĚ thing, too. Researchers at the University of Western Australia decided ...
Off Your Knees, Germany! Ernst Zundel 1983 - 2003
2015-04-25 1:15
For more information on the holocaust, how the war was forced upon Germany, and the REAL victims of the second world war see: http://gblt.webs.com/Real_Holocaust.htm http://web.archive.org/web/20130806074314/http://www.666blacksun.org/ http://www.zundelsite.org/
IRS Drops Attack For Six Years ‚Äď No Evidence of Jurisdiction
2015-04-24 20:29
A big congrats to a friend I‚Äôve been working with for several years, he stood up to the predators commonly called the ‚ÄúIRS‚ÄĚ and they dropped their attack. Thanks also for providing me with the proof below. The criminals called the ‚ÄúIRS‚ÄĚ initiated an attack claiming my friend was required to file six tax returns, or explain how he made ...
Into Eternity - Finland's 100,000 Year Massive Underground Spent Nuclear Fuel Program
2015-04-24 20:49
Into Eternity is a documentary about a deep geological repository for nuclear waste. The concept of long-term underground storage for radioactive waste has been explored since the 1950s. The inner part of the Russian doll-like storage canisters is to be composed of copper. Hence in the case of Onkalo it is tightly linked to experiments on copper corrosion in running ...
SPLC Accuses Oath Keepers of Inciting ‚ÄúArmed Confrontation‚ÄĚ Over Sugar Pine Mine
2015-04-24 20:22
The Southern Poverty Law Center has accused Oath Keepers of inciting an armed confrontation with BLM authorities over the Sugar Pine Mine dispute in Oregon, despite the fact that the organization has explicitly stated that it is not promoting armed confrontation with the feds. In an article provocatively posted on the organization‚Äôs ‚ÄėHatewatch‚Äô section entitled Oath Keepers Descend Upon Oregon with ...
More News »