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Child safety checks are like Section 28, says Pullman

edited July 2009 in - Reading


  • For those who go into schools with their books.
  • I don't see the problem here to be fair. If you want to be a lollipop man, out in broad daylight in full view of teachers and parents, you have to pass the CRB checks.
  • No one objects to the CRB checks ST, as it helps them be able to carry out their lawful profession.
    But this is another thing entirely- another set of paperwork and costs that the writer will have to fund, and renewed annually.
    I can see that many writers will no longer bother as it is too costly and time consuming. The only ones who suffer are schools and their students.
  • This reminds me of that awful trend that was adopted by hard line feminists in the 1980's. They had a slogan that said ' All men are possible rapists'. It never made sense to me because all it did was alienate men from trying to understand the politics these women were trying to promote. You're right there is too much paperwork, silly laws and more unsettling is that there is too much suspicion in this country.
  • There is a presumption of you being guilty before you have committed an offence in too many things nowdays- Nottinghamshire police raided a protest group and arrested them- they were planning to demonstrate at the power generating site near the MI.
    The other day it was announced that x number were no longer facing prosecution, and the remainder were still being investigated.
    This seemed to be nothing more than a 'thought crime'.
  • Its Ryde Regatta this weekend, we just had the usual parade down the street (unfortunately in fine rain) but the girl in the chemist told me that the high point of the afternoon, the live local bands, had been cancelled by the police. We ALWAYS have live local bands at the Regatta, they might not be brilliant but they try hard and they are full of enthusiasm and they have been banned. Are the police trying to take over all our civil liberties and pleasure activities?
  • Happening more and more often.
  • A pity the band has been banned.
  • edited July 2009
    For anyone who didn't see the original item some months ago- this (new rules mentioned in the article) is another requirement for anyone going in to schools, as well as the CRB check.
  • Whilst I quite understand the need for CRB checks, this new proposal appears totally unecessary, and perhaps illegal in that it amounts to discrimination. The insulting implication being, that authors and librarians are a special breed, and of particular risk to children. Surely the existing CRB checks are sufficient. As a former Chair of Governors, my observation is that in a properly run school teachers are vigilant, and no adult is permitted to be alone with children. Neither CRB checks, or any kind of list (paid for or otherwise) can replace that simple procedure, in the protection of our children. At best all these checks can possibly do, is show if you have been convicted of a previous offence. My honest opinion is that this is misguided political pandering, and bureaucracy gone mad. CRB checks should certainly be in place for everyone regardless, but all this proposal will do is deepen an already volitile environment of mistrust. Ordinary, talented human beings, who are no risk to our children whatsoever, will opt not to be involved. The only losers will be the children.
  • Agree PaulT.
  • I agree with Pullman, and If I were writer of children's books I wouldn't take part in this scheme. What do these stupid people think a writer's going to do when they visit a school, rape a child in front of everyone? This country is going from bad to worse. If I had money I would move somewhere else.
  • edited July 2009
    I dislike the idea of having to go through more paperwork to help in schools. I'd wanted to go in and help students with their reading, knowing how much classmates had wanted help but found nothing at school to help. However I have drifted from the idea ever since finding out that I'd have to cough up cash I don't have for a CRB. What with schools overcrowded with immigrants, the results of teen pregnancies, the ex private-school pupils and then the original state school pupils...I feel so sorry for the generation coming up. I already feel often such an ignoramus with my boyfriend as the American education system's vastly superior and makes sure they learn far more than my teachers ever bothered.
    Caro, i held your view for such a long time...I hate this country, what it's become and what it's going to continue becoming. But now I just feel choked from it: this is our homeland and we're all wanting to leave it because it's a lost cause? I still feel there must be something left to do.
  • I'm all 'checked out' - have been for years as I work as an early years practitioner in nurseries and schools anyway.

    Most visiting authors ask not to be left alone with the children anyway. I agree that it is all getting a bit daft.
  • What about CRB checks for parents and anyone else who tries to gain admittance to the school play or sports day? Or parents' evening when there are pupil helpers serving teas? And are pupils (especially some of these more senior boys) required to be screened and to hold a clean certificate? We have workmen on our school premises; I must ask if they were obliged to follow this 'pay for a clean bill of moral health' procedure.
  • I had to have a CRB check when I joined the local authority...I don't even work with children...
  • I don't agree with this vetting for authors who visit schools thing. The next thing will be that your local shopkeeper will need a CRB disclosure before he is allowed to sell your kid sweets. Oh I've just heard they're bringing that one in early next year. I mean what does a CRB certificate actually prove? That someone is safe, because they don't have any criminal convictions for abusing children? In some cases it surely means they haven't been caught yet.
  • There is that. But I have to say it does seem to suggest that anyone who wants to go into schools and have contact with children are potential abusers- same with the home educating thing.
    It is quite possible that parents could be abusers, yet they do not need any documentation.
  • I have to have a disclosure (as they call it in Scotland) to work at the Safari Park. It's a regular thing for me, rather 'meh' in my opinion. If I have to have one, why shouldn't shop staff etc?
  • A couple of weeks back, before all this nonsense, I actually blogged about my experience of applying for a CRB disclosure, several years ago - horrendous experience, but I can laugh about it now. Frankly, I'm just glad I'm not a children's author who needs one!

  • My thoughts are that while visiting a school any visitor should be escourted. As this is a 'visit' rather than an actual in school occupation such as being a caretaker I feel a CRB check is unnecessary provided the visitor is not left unescorted.

    I feel we a now so overly hyped about this issue due to media frenzy that if a child is in distress a man (possibly even woman) cannot approach that child without fear of extreme accusations.
  • I have regular CRB checks for my work - it's no problem, all I do is fill in a form so 'they' can check I've not been charged with any sexual offence. I don't see what good a seperate register can do. Haven't the problems highlighted in the past been due to different agencies not passing on info? The more ways various info is gathered, the greater chance of something going wrong imo.
  • And if something went wrong all the anti-opinion would be baying for blood.
  • That's true - the authorities will probably be in the wrong no matter what they do.
  • If the CRB check isn't good enough then we should be worried- but as I understand it the two systems will be running at the same time.
  • edited December 2009
    From Times Online December 14, 2009

    Vetting scheme climbdown after writer's complaints:

  • Thank goodness I have a current CRB check certificate which schools accept for Author Visits. Not sure where everyone stands for the new registration process - it all seems to be recommendations rather than documented changes.
  • If these checks were in place in 1996, Hamilton wouldn't have been allowed anywhere near kids and the shootings would never have happened.

    Every year I have to get checks to work at Blair Drummond, water off a duck's back.
  • The complaints weren't just writers though. It was going to effect lots of other people who might only help out once a week- say transporting their child and others to a school football match. It would have even effected The Duke of Edinburgh scheme too.
  • The Gvt minister was talking about it on TV this morning and said the papers got that wrong, it would never have affected parents driving kids to school etc.
  • Then the next time a tragedy happens within a school, the newspapers will be demanding such measures.
  • It was not parents driving kids to school Liz that I meant, it was children who say belong to the school football/basketball team (who in primary school play against other school teams after school, during the football season). I know when my boys were in school their headmaster relied on a couple of parents to transport the rest of the team to the venue for the match, and back to school for picking up by parents.
    Such parents previously would have come under this ruling.
  • To my mind the iniquitous thing about the scheme is that it promotes suspicion, social inhibitions and reluctance and directly works against the ethos of mutual help. Let's all get into families and stay there, insulated against the dangerous and undesirable society around us. It also gives children the feeling that strangers, especially adult strangers (i.e. every human being other than the 20 - 30 people you know) are almost certainly wicked and out to do you harm.
  • Agree Dwight. It hampers children gaining the skills to judge people, so they pick up the clues when someone is the sort to be wary of, and situations that may be dangerous.
    Just because someone has a piece of paper saying they have no convictions etc, it is no guarantee.
  • We can protect against every possibility as parents. I also think that in a subconcious way it stops parents using their own judgement. I was talking to my father in law last noght about this. He said these things still happened 60 years ago, there were still peodophiles, but if you thought Uncle George was that way inclined etc you just didn't leave the kids alone with him....they didn't need a piece of paper to say he hasn't committed any crime. Thats all it is after all, a piece of paper saying they haven't been convicted of anything not that they won't or they haven't been caught. We still have to use our judgement, a CRB check does not make someone safe.

    Even social services can not make up their own minds on what is safe in some cases (granted this is not to do with peodophiles but more child safety).
    When my kids used to visit their Dad, he and his new wife would sit with their friends smoking dope (my son told his teacher how to roll a joint at 6) and when I complained etc I was told I was unreasonable and just trying to cause trouble out of spite. Eventually I contacted scoial services for advice, to see whether I was being unreasonable intheir eyes etc. (kids wanted to see their Dad and I was in the great position of being the bad one if I said no etc etc). They said it was my responsibility and that if I thought they were in danger I should NOT send them because if I did and something happened it would be considered my fault for letting them go but that I should remember that drug addicts make perfectly good parents. Now I can say I thought they were in danger as such more that it was inappropriate behaviour in front of them. And they told me there was nothing they could do it was entirely down to me to decide. In the end they did carry on going because it was that infrequent anyway but I told the kids that when they lit up to get off his knee and go into a different room (they were only ever there for a maximum of 3 hours and my theory being that I didn't believe he would let anything bad happen to them). My point is that even with all this so called expert opinion they can't always give you a straight answer and we have to use our own judgement. A CRB check isn't necessarily protection.
  • I agree with you both, Carol and ginab. What a vital point it is that children still need to use their own intuition as to whom they can trust. I think TV soaps and cinema movies are a good education on this point... deciding who is a goody and who is a baddy, and why.
  • My fiance is a Bus Driver, and he drives the school coaches at the beginning and end of the school day. As such he is CRB checked, and he is left alone with the children.

    But my view on CRB checks are that they aren't worth the paper they are printed on. For instance, you get an adult applying for a CRB check as they are going to be working with children. They have been abusing a child for the past six months. They have not been questioned or arrested or even in the picture for this abuse. So they can work with children. It may be a horrible way to look at it, but I think that the only reason some people have clean records is because they have yet to be caught. But this does not necessarily mean everyone is a paedophile. There are more nice people out there than there are Paedo's. The CRB checks are going to make our children more vulnerable as they are getting in the way of common sense.
  • I watched a programme that said there are no more cases of child abuse than there ever have been it's just we know about them now. There are dangers everywhere in life. Crossing the road, car accidents, falling out of trees or freak accidents like the one that killed Natasha Richardson this year. Yes we have to be aware of dangers but children could quite easily believe it is too dangerous to step out of the door.
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