Has the child protection agenda gone too far?

@owlwings (39872)
Cambridge, England
January 23, 2008 2:51pm CST
Have adults lost the confidence and ability to give any discipline or authority? Has the child protection agenda gone too far and left children knowing their rights and trusting no adults? Or is the coverage of the worst, tragic cases concentrating on violence which is unrepresentative of a whole generation? These are some of the questions posed by this week's Moral Maze on BBC Radio 4. You can hear the discussion here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/religion/moralmaze.shtml (you may need to click on the link on the right, where it says "Listen Again"). The program is 45 minutes long and, I think, is well worth listening to. One of the most potent points for me was that, these days, one would more than likely think twice about touching or comforting a stranger child in distress (certainly a man would.) Twenty or even 10 years ago, it would have been the most natural thing to do and one would not have even thought that there might be anything bad or suspicious about it.
2 people like this
3 responses
@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
27 Aug 08
I think that you have a good point here. When I used to tutor children, once a child was repeatedly poking my arm with the tip of his pencil. I told him to stop twice, and then gently grabbed his arm to stop him. I held it there, and told him that he needed to stop. And he did. But at the break when the kids were out playing, I was told that tutors were not allowed to touch the children under any circumstances because it could be seen as abuse. I did not bruise his arm or leave any marks, I had pencil pokes on my arm, and yet grabbing his arm was considered the wrong action. I would not comfort a strange child in distress but if I saw someone hurting a child I would question it. Unless it was obviously the parent doing much needed discipline.
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@owlwings (39872)
• Cambridge, England
27 Aug 08
I don't, of course, know the circumstances under which you were working at the time but, in general (and assuming that you were a regular rather than a casual employee of an educational establishment) I think that the best approach to take in a situation such as you describe, where tutors are 'not allowed to touch children under any circumstances' would be to: 1) Immediately move away from the child and thus put yourself in a 'formal' situation with him. 2) Make a formal (written) and reasoned complaint to the principal/manager (your superior) that you feel that you are unable to perform your job to the level required of you because of unreasonable restrictions. 3) Gain the support and sympathy of the parents, if possible, in their trust in you to discipline their child responsibly. 3) If, because of the impracticality of the restrictions imposed, you are disciplined or dismissed or otherwise appear discriminated against, use employment law (unfair dismissal, &c) and the media to the fullest extent possible to show how inappropriate this ruling is for teachers - and especially personal tutors of special needs children. It is sad that you would not feel able to 'comfort a strange child in distress'. I think that if I saw a child alone and in distress (in a public place), I would do my best to help them, even if I were concerned that some person who hadn't properly recognised the situation might see fit to report their perception of my actions to the authorities! If I saw someone hurting a child (or an animal), I would FIRST try to make sure that I had my facts straight - well, see above - and THEN call the police ... or in a very extreme situation, call the police and try to intervene. I have confidence that the law (British law, at any rate) does work both ways, though it can be quicker to accuse someone unjustly than to recompense someone for a wrongful accusation.
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@Pigglies (9339)
• United States
28 Aug 08
I was working in a tutoring center, not a school. The children were mostly gifted children rather than children with special needs. Although I did tutor a few children with ADD and a few with language delays due to not speaking English at home. The hard part was that at this center you were always stuck tutoring three children at a time.
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@owlwings (39872)
• Cambridge, England
10 Sep 08
I would say that 'gifted' children actually have broadly similar needs to many others who we class as 'below normal' or 'disturbed' or 'special needs'. Being gifted is a liability and sets one apart from the rest of society as much as the problems associated with what are termed 'low achievers'.
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@dawnald (84146)
• Shingle Springs, California
10 Sep 08
Times have changed all right. Here in the US too. When I was a child no adult thought twice about disciplining another person's child if that child needed it. I'm not talking about spankings here, just a good talking to. Nowadays if you tried it the parents would probably go off on you. When I was 7 or 8, I used to wander all over the place and as long as I was home for dinner, nobody thought anything of it. Now children that age don't go anywhere alone. And with good reason. I live in a very safe neighborhood and there have been children abducted right off the street. Too many scary things going on in the world... I think I kind of digressed there...
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@owlwings (39872)
• Cambridge, England
12 Sep 08
When I was a child, the local policeman would think nothing of taking one by the ear (if one was caught red handed in a minor offence) and delivering one home in this fashion to be dealt with by one's parents. No thought of paperwork or 'criminal record' for a simple offence like scrumping, minor shoplifting, ringing doorbells, fighting in the street or other such rudery.
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@owlwings (39872)
• Cambridge, England
12 Sep 08
I, too, used to wander all over the countryside with my brother or friends. It was enough to say where one was going (approximately) and who one would be with. If one fell in the river (a mile away) one had to traipse home, dripping, and just put up with a mild scolding (and a hot bath) when one got home.
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@ronaldinu (12440)
• Malta
15 Sep 08
I think the child agenda has gone to far. As a teacher I take my precautions so that I will never get accused of child abuse. If I have to talk to a student after lesson I make sure that I leave an open door so that students or other teachers passers by can see us. This way I can never been accused of child molestation. I have stopped even touch students even a tap on the back to encourage or praise them, in case it might be interpreted in the wrong way.
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@ronaldinu (12440)
• Malta
12 Nov 08
Thanks for the br award.
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