Thursday, 10 July 2008

Licensed to Hug

In the months after 9/11 I had a call from Frank Furedi, the Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent. He wanted to research the reaction to 9/11 and he needed to talk to risk managers and he needed funds. I arranged for AIRMIC to provide the risk managers and Lloyd's the funds. The result was Frank's report, which went out under the sponsorship of AIRMIC and Lloyd's called "Refusing to be Terrorised". Well worth reading.

Now he has just published with Jennie Bristow, a new report "Licensed to Hug"about vetting adults who work with children . Here is a brief section from his website on the subject- once again Frank is dealing with the fears of society and exposing how we are in the grip of idiots:

"The alleged protective effects of a system of vetting are largely illusory. Aside from the fallibility of record-keeping and technical systems, vetting takes into account only what somebody has done in the past. The most sophisticated system in the world cannot anticipate how individuals with a clean record might behave. Thus, the CRB provides little guidance about people’s behaviour in the future. It provides the impression of security, but not the substance. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the national vetting scheme represents an exercise in impression management rather than offering effective protection. Vetting measures also fuel suspicion about adults. In that sense, they are not just harmless rituals, but negatively influence the conduct of adult-child relationships.

Although proponents of the scheme contend that it is designed to prevent “worst-case scenarios”, the very institutionalisation of the scheme encourages worst-case-scenario assumptions to become the norm. One consequence of this process is that adults feel increasingly nervous around children, unwilling and unable to exercise their authority and play a positive role in children’s lives. Such intergenerational unease has not made children safer than in the past: if anything, it is creating the conditions for greater harm, as adults lose the nerve and will to look out for any child who is not their own. Perversely, it inadvertently encourages grown-ups to avoid their responsibility for assuring the well-being of children in their community. One of the principal consequences of the vetting of grown-ups is the legitimisation of the idea that it is not the responsibility of the older generation to take a direct interest in the lives of children
. "

Click here to read the AIRMIC Press Release from 17th June 2002...

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