Friday, January 20, 2006

Child Protection link dump and follow up

OK, as Paul's pretty much already covered what I was going to here and here, I thought I'd simply put all the links I was going to use up for the sake of it. Like I said, child protection is part of my job. The thing about this that really gets to me is all the fuss about the known, reported and watched teachers with records. It's the unknown, unconvicted that are the danger.

So, Consider Phlebas:
"To deny the possibility of reform is to deny the possibility of agency, of control over the direction of a life, and, close as much of the coverage of such cases does come to doing that, surely if paedophiles did totally lack agency, we would treat them quite differently, as one would treat dangerous animals or the criminally insane."
The Mirror pretends it's the Sun and, from what I can see, libels the teacher in the initial 'scare' story, Stumbling and Mumbling has a sense of perspective:
Intelligent people are guided by facts. The fact – as far as we know – is that no child has been sexually attacked by a teacher who had a previous conviction or caution for a sexual offence. An intelligent person might, therefore, infer that there’s no problem.
Mary Riddell in the Observer points out that Kelly is crap:
She might have said that it is not fair or practical to turn into pariahs all the 29,000 people on the sex offenders' register. She might have pointed out the oddness of a list that lumps together rapists and 16-year-old boys who have sex with their slightly younger girlfriends. If none of these defences appealed, she could just have said sorry.
Uncle Steve agrees with her:
Ruth Kelly is the UK Education secretary, famous for being part of the "secretive ultra-strict and a bit bonkers" Catholic cult Opus Dei, which has systems for members to commit serious self-harm because they're not strict enough or pure enough and must chastise the flesh. She is therefore perfect to be in a position to influence the nation's children.
D'Ancona in the Telegraph takes a pop:
Ms Kelly's personal failure is quite clear: she had simply not grasped how deficient the system for vetting teachers was. Her authority is in tatters as a consequence
Nick Robinson puts some facts down pointing out that they were, actually, doing something about it already (although in this bloggers opinion they should have done something when Bichard published):
The Queen's Speech after the election promised that there would be legislation soon to implement the Bichard Inquiry's proposals to create a single vetting scheme. Consultation on the detail took place last year.
Brian Barder, in a typically long but well observed post, points out the failures and hysteria on all sides:
Various Parent-teacher Associations and their spokespersons are at fault for rushing in front of the television cameras with wild talk about British parents not being able to sleep at night for fear that their kids are being daily molested by fiends masquerading as teachers, with the knowing acquiescence of Ruth Kelly personally. Perfect examples of the irrationally risk-averse obsessions of our safety-first society.
Tony Hatfield on cautions and how they can, in his experience as a lawyer, be abused:
In order for cautions to be fairly administered, the accused person must clearly understand the consequences of accepting one. My experience suggests in many cases this may not be so.
And finally the Pub Philosopher wonders how many people looking for legitimate porn have possibly DL'd child porn instead:
the school uniform fetish as "one of the most widespread clothing-oriented fetishes worldwide".

So if thousands of people are into this stuff and start searching the net for it, could some of them come across a real child porn web-site by accident?
This is a serious issue, the registers and lists that exist are a nightmare to negotiate and difficult to understand. Three years in my job and I still learn more when I talk to a new office, social services person or similar. We need it to be rationalised in a sensible, thought out manner that allows children to be protected from known, genuine, threats. Not people cautioned for one indiscretion that are believed to be no threat and under observation. And most certainly not completely rehabilitated individuals who are no longer a threat in any way.

This Govt is media led and focus group driven. The idea that they could actually lead opinion, persuade their case and genuinely solve problems is, it appears, beyond most of them. Maybe it's because they're tired?

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