Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Friday, 11 September 2009

Dangerous until "proven safe"

The latest government proposals requiring all adults who regularly drive children to sports or social clubs to undergo criminal record checks come as no surprise. It is part and parcel of the sort of measures this government keeps bringing in.

What are they actually trying to achieve here though? Presumably they think that their plans will make children safer. However as usual there will be unintended consequences from this new law. I will have a quick stab at some of the things that will flow from this:

1) Some (perhaps many) adults will be highly insulted to have to go through a criminal records check in order to run their children's friends to clubs and will therefore not bother.
2) Children will become even more overweight. There will be fewer adults to run the kids to their sporting events and therefore over time, fewer of them will participate. And when children get less exercise they get fatter.
3) There will be more anti-social behaviour from children. Because they won't be going to as many clubs they will have more time and their hands. And what happens when some kids have more time on their hands?....
4) Perhaps worst of all, society will just get that little bit worse. The bonds that form between parents of a child and that child's friends will get weaker because the law is making the adult feel like a potential danger until they can "prove" themselves to be safe.

I weep a little bit every time I see another one of these measures drifting onto the statute book. If I saw an unaccompanied child fall over in the street and start crying I would be reluctant to directly intervene. I would likely try and find the parent or do something from afar to assist but the idea that I would walk over, pick them up, dust them off and check if they are OK is frankly for the birds. I have grown up as an adult in a culture where that sort of thing is frowned upon. However when I was a child 30 years ago this was a lot more likely to happen and I think we were stronger as a society for it.

This latest measure will by degrees make our culture a little bit worse.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that this post was inspired by Radio 5 Live's Nicky Campbell's tweet explaining that is the topic of their phone-in this morning. Anyway he very kindly read out my points from the blog on the breakfast show this morning as Dazmando has just informed me on Twitter. You can hear it here from around 2:50:45.


Letters From A Tory said...

Chilling, isn't it. You can't even drive your children's friends to a football match without being checked by the police first.

Costello said...

Simple idiocy. As you point out all this will achieve is fewer sports clubs and after school societies as parents decide not to volunteer as it's simply not worth the hassle. Quite how the government proposes to police adult friends taking turns to drive their kids from one place to another God only knows but we can no doubt look forward to some Daily Mailtastic examples of this law being idiotically implemented by some plodding jobsworth or other.

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

A great post.

As for what they are trying to achieve, I imagine it's much the same thing as they always are - total and absolute control over everyone's lives, because ordinary people are too thick to take care of themselves. A terribly sad and unfortunate attitude.

Hywel said...

YOu missed
(5) It will be a nightmare for clubs to operate. Certainly on my cricket team transport arrangements to the away ground are arranged ad-hoc when everyone has turned up to the ground.

A far bigger risk is an accident en-route but AFAICS there is no guidance to clubs on what level of driving convictions should represent a bar on a volunteer driving club members.

It will also massively increase the workload on leagues in processing CRB checks - up from 6-8 per club to prob 15-18.

Unknown said...

Yeah, couldn't agree more!!

According to this government virtually all adults are now potential child molesters. It's just sad.

Timothy Wallace said...

And what about the 'soft intelligence'? That adults who have been accused or suspected of child abuse in th past but where nothing has been proven, may also fall foul of these new regulations. Disgusting.

dazmando said...

Thank you for the Twitter Ref Mark,

Most people word agree, this is really going to far. Can I ever help a child again in any situation, First aid what happens if I help a child whos hurt, what if I find a lost kid and take them too there parents can I get done then. What happens if some children are playing up and I tell them off will they tell their parents that im a Pedophile and have me done to get back at me.

What is going on I thought we need to help bring up children as a society, how can we do this now.

Costigan Quist said...

In the interests of accuracy, I should point out that you will not need any sort of check to drive other people's kids to a club or football match as long as it's a private arrangement between you and the other parents.

The scheme might be pretty bad, but it's not quite that bad.