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Posts Tagged ‘safeguarding’

In last night’s Panorama , Jeremy Vine examined the role of the new Independent Safeguarding Agency. Anyone who works or volunteers with children once a week or more will need to be checked by the new agency. Let me state at the beginning that of course convicted paedophiles should be barred from working with children, but I have doubts that this system will make our children one iota safer and may in fact have very negative consequences. Firstly, of 12,000 calls to Childline last year about sexual abuse only 13 of those accused would have been picked up by this system. The idea that someone is safe to be around your children because they have a clean CRB check clearly doesn’t always work. Statistically a child is more likely to be abused by someone they know well, so where do we draw the line? And if we cannot decide where to draw the line, why stop anywhere? Children are sometimes abused by their parents, so why not check everyone when they book in for ante-natal care? And everyone else in the family? One woman who called into Jeremy Vine’s radio show on the subject said that she wanted everyone who ever came in contact with her child checked: the postman, shopkeepers, bus-drivers.

Not only would that be madness but I truly believe that that level of paranoia risks our children’s safety and mental well-being more than having someone who hasn’t been checked by the ISA in contact with them. What happens to trust? What happens to community? Who does your child turn to for help if they need it if they have been taught that *everyone* is a risk? Men in particular are too scared to approach a child who may need help. My husband has worried that people will suspect him because he is friendly to other children. He worries that people will think our pale-skinned mixed race daughter is not his and he is going to hurt her. And this system seems too ripe for abuse. Unsubstantiated rumours, anonymous tip-offs and stories in the press will all find their way onto your file as soft evidence and it could be down to an office worker in a business park to make decisions that will impact your whole life.

I think they have it backwards. You cannot protect children from the outside in. You have to protect them from the inside out. Give them the tools, as much as it is possible, to defend themselves. How much autonomy do you allow your child over their own life, over their body? Ever made them wear a coat when they insisted they weren’t cold, made them finish their dinner when they said they weren’t hungry, tried to get them to take a nap when they are not tired? Give them some control over their body, let them know they own it and no-one has the right to make them do anything that makes them uncomfortable. Last week my daughter’s trampolining instructor picked her up and threw her despite her protests that she didn’t want to. I could have told her to stop being silly, but I didn’t. I told him that she had said no and she had the right to do that. This week he asked first. She is more confident in her right to say no to anything that makes her scared or uneasy. Then make sure that if anything does happen they know where to go, who will listen, who will act on their behalf.

We should be building community, not tearing it down. The well-being of your children should be everyone’s responsibility not just yours. The number of people who might want to harm them is still very small compared to the number of people who mean well and would act to help and protect them.

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