I read this week that a primary headteacher has asked staff not to hold reception children’s hands in the playground, even when they are crying for their mums. They are four or five years old, after all.
Mad. Commonsense and compassion have been defeated by fear of litigation. Child protection issues – much needed in certain cases – have been taken to the extreme.
Some years ago, the church I attended required me to obtain clearance from the Criminal Records Bureau, proving that I was a fit person to work with children or vulnerable young people. I already had the Standard Disclosure, a requirement from the school I worked at, where I supported small groups with learning difficulties, often working alone in a small room with one or two children.
This was not satisfactory. I had to fill in an even more complicated form which would give me an Enhanced Disclosure.
What was my work? Sunday School teacher of 4 – 5 year olds, requiring me to take them to the toilet at times? Or helping with disabled teenagers?
No, I actually had no contact with children at all. My only role was in an advisory capacity as a teacher, to sit on the Sunday School Committee which met three times a year to organise the children’s program.
Maybe sanity prevailed, because I never did actually receive the approved disclosure.
Or maybe somewhere, in the depths of the Criminal Records Bureau, lies a file with a large stamp on it which says: This applicant is deemed unsuitable for work with children.
Time for a change of career.