To CRB or not to CRB

We have, fortunately, in the UK, left behind us the era of unchallenged cruelty to children.

Sadly, we are but one small tiny drop in an ocean of child abuse that still dominates the majority of the planet.

Despite our ethical cleansing, we still encourage, albeit unwittingly, child abuse in other parts of the world.  Our opulence forces under-age slave labour to assemble our must-have smartphones.  Our lust for designer clothes and footwear leads to children sleeping for a few hours rest on the floors of the sweatshops they live in, churning out the goods that make the fat cats fatter.

These realities are behind why I support the concept of Fair Trade. Ideally that should be fair trade without the movement being hijacked by the militants who make their living out of fiddling with the political aspects of the far away people of our planet.

But, I digress.

Returning to home, we now seem to be wrapping children in cotton wool.  Thick cotton wool.

Take a bunch of kids appearing on a TV show.  Parents will drop them off and leave them in the hands of registered chaperones.   From that moment onwards, parents are not allowed into the dressing rooms or to have any direct contact with any of the children, including their own.  No popping into the dressing room to wish them good luck or to give them a reassuring hug.  Nope, the parents might behave inappropriately with the other children in the room, instead of attending to the needs of their own.

Should a child become upset and in need of comfort, the chaperones are not even allowed to hug them.  No touching allowed. And ideally all contact with the children must be witnessed by another chaperone.

Is this all a bit over the top?  I’m not sure.

I guess I tend to think that if it saves just one child from abuse, then it must be ok.  But, aren’t we then bringing our children up in an emotional void that rivals the upbringing of the Royal Family?

But, here’s a thing: The paranoia about whether or not I am likely to be a child abuser is easily silenced by me showing my CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) Police check and its search results.

Now, in my view, this is dangerous.  The CRB check just proves that I’ve not been caught and successfully prosecuted.  It does not prove that I’m free of criminal intent or that I’m not a paedophile   Yet people treat the CRB check as if it is some profiling device or mind probe able to tell all about me, and so people then, unwisely, feel ‘safe’.

Personally I think this is a very dangerous attitude.  Relying on a CRB check to see if I am safe around children has to be wrong.  Ok, in fact, I can’t go and hang around with the children, I’m not a qualified and registered chaperone, but I can be in the same building at least.

I think the point I’m trying to illustrate is that in one respect we have done good and child protection has become an essential part of our life, especially when you look back and compare today with the horrendous world of Jimmy Savile and those like him who were able to operate freely for so many decades.  Yet in another respect we too easily believe that somebody who hasn’t been caught (and so has no CRB record) is safe.

And, swinging this observation a further 360, maybe the cotton wool we are wrapping the kids in shouldn’t be so completely thick and restrictive either.

Above all it really needs to be discussed without screaming hissy fits and paranoia.