Few people will have missed the current furore over the new child protection vetting regulations. There has been a lot of inaccuracy in the coverage, for example, as far as I am aware, private arrangements such as taking a friend’s child to football will be exempt, unless the service is provided under the auspices of the club or organisation involved.
What doesn’t seem to have been pointed out is that these regulations are, and always have been, as much, if not more, about protecting organisations and institutions from liability than genuinely protecting children. If they carry out checks then organisations can show they took the proper steps if a child is abused. CRB checks only protect children from known sex offenders, not from those unknown to the authorities. Meanwhile the new regulations do nothing to help the countless children abused in the home – not that this abuse can be regulated or legislated for.
I am all for a sensible level of checking but we have to recognise that we cannot legislate away danger to children. It angers me that, in the midst of all this cost and bureaucracy, services such as Childline constantly struggle financially, relying on donations and fundraising to continue. A key way to protect children is to empower them to speak out and to put help in place when they do so. While the legislation is debated and many needless forms are filled out, thousands of children who actually are being abused phone Childline every day. One in three of those children will not get through, their cry for help will not be heard – and that really is criminal.