Dear Readers — Here is an extraordinary essay from the Times of London, “We Approach Others’ Children at Our Peril.” It traces how “what began 25 years ago as an understandable desire to raise awareness of child abuse is turning into something extremely distructive — an instinctive suspicion of any encounter between grown-ups and unrelated children.”
This fear has lead not only to parents locking their children indoors — as indicated by the statistic in my headline (from England) — it is also changing the very relationship between children and grown-ups. As notes the article, by Jenni Russell, this generation of children has “been taught from the time they start school that all strangers may be dangerous and all men are threats. So children have become frightened of adults and adults — terrified that any interaction of theirs might be misinterpreted — have become equally frightened of them.”
Men: Has there been a time when you were thinking of helping a child, but held back, for fear you might be mistaken for a lecher, or worse? I’m curious about this.
Meantime, the takeaway point is this: When adults can’t approach a child without first second-guessing the consequences, and children think of all adults as potentially evil, we have a prescription for a stand-off. And that’s exactly what seems to be happening. Kids can’t ask grown-ups for help, grown-ups can’t volunteer it. Who is safer as a result?
No one, of course. All in the name of child safety. — Lenore