Independent Safeguarding Authority

Lord Soley

I think Baroness Murphy makes some powerful points. I am still unsure about the wisdom of this. Some points of concern can be ironed out but I think the key question is will it prevent abuse? I find a number of people who work with children insisting that it will but Baroness Murphy is right to point out that most abuse takes place either in the home or by a friend or relative.

This new authority has come about because of the insistence in the press and elsewhere that the government must act to prevent further horrific cases that hit the headlines. I can remember headlines in the 1950’s about such cases but they rarely led to a campaign for legislative action. If murder was involved then the debate would be about capital punishment and not a new regulatory authority.

I would guess that the incidence of abuse was no less in previous decades then it is now but we are far more conscious of it. Prior to the 1960’s child sexual abuse would often be referred to as incest. People didn’t like it but it was quite often seen as a family matter like the domestic abuse of woman and not something the state could do much about even if there were laws against it.  Times have changed and in my view for the better but we do find ourselves setting up institutional organisations to try and prevent actions which cause anger in society.

There is a curious route from public anger about a tragedy leading to a media storm to politicians reacting by agreeing to legislate.  This can be beneficial but not always. Think of the accidents involving children on school trips and the overprotective reaction leading to teachers being fearful of putting any child into a situation where there can be risk. This is very different to sexual abuse but the process of public concern to political reaction is not so different.

I’ll have to get my thinking cap on for this one!

9 comments for “Independent Safeguarding Authority

  1. franksummers3ba
    17/09/2009 at 2:56 am

    CS Lewis, George Orwell and others have written of the bullying in schools in the UK under a variety of terms. I know bullying makes life hell for many children and adloescents the world over. Near torture should be severely punished relative to taling in class. I was a new student in many schools, a foreigner and sometimes a member of a tiny racial minority (I was white) so I know both bullying and fighting very well and the costs.

    In the US we have police officers in schools arresting children in handcuffes for causing trouble. In my opinion often not the right children if any were to arrested. I did disciplinary education teaching in what we call public schools and was pleased to use my physical mass and unpleasant personality to keep peace. I was not pleased to see police arresting schoolchildren for schoolyard offenses.

    Is sex so very different? If one could trust the people in charge to see penetration and physical force as one thing and misdirected emotion and temporary idiocy of manner as something else it would be different. I doubt such trust can be justified anywhere in the modern world. Sexual discomfort has to be dealt with by people very different from those who write and administer many petty regulations. That means that vengeance and deterrence have to have a place with good manners and disciplined observation. Civilized people do not want teachers to send out the message that adolescents are sexualy repulsive, that shoving in line is armed assault or other real dangers to sanity. Society surrenders itself to its worst elements emphaticaly when it tires to keep its better elements too pure by use of law. That is axiomatic truth.

  2. Senex
    17/09/2009 at 11:42 am

    Lord Soley: I agree with your viewpoint as I do with Baroness Murphy’s.

    BM is well placed to comment on this given her association with mental health, as are the police if they could. Lord Norton is soon going to post on prostitution. This oldest of ‘professions’ should subjectively act as a safety valve for suppressed sexual desires in society. However, that discussion is for another day.

    In the US as in the rest of the world pornography is a billion dollar industry that dominates the internet. The religious right in the US feels it is responsible for many of societies ills. In fact one could argue that GW Bush was elected on a mandate to deal with it but events overtook him.

    BM is right that awareness is central to all of this. As a family we always employed the use of password known only to us being mindful that sometimes children have to place trust in adults in the absence of their parents. We instructed ours that unless the password was given to run, keep on running and not to look back.

    Children viewing legal pornography is an abuse not so much in the sense that it should be prohibited but that it gives children a warped view of sexuality that bears little or no resemblance to real life. What sexual education is failing to do is to inform children that what they see is acting and illusion with one purpose only, to elicit profit.

    Treasuries take taxes from this profit, but then again they would because national Treasuries are amoral.

    Society cannot have it all ways. It cannot have freely available pornography, lax adult morality with STD/STI risks or to shelter children from this sexual reality. The problem has always been with us especially in Roman times. Even now in South Africa oddbods infected with HIV/Aids feel that having sex with a child will cure them.

    We are so very lucky not to be African.

    Ref: Roman Sexuality
    The National Children’s Forum on HIV/AIDS

  3. jken146
    18/09/2009 at 11:21 am

    Lord Soley, I disagree that the key question is whether this measure will prevent abuse. While that is surely a laudable aim, any practical measure undertaken must be proportionate in its effects on the entire society on which it acts. I think that appropriateness is the key concern that legislators should address when considering a course of action, and this must include both the effectiveness of the measure in achieving its aim and any other effects the measure will cause.
    In this case, parliament seems to have taken a one-sided view of the issue, making it look like a reactionary and ill-thought-out act.

  4. franksummers3ba
    19/09/2009 at 11:34 pm

    Bt order of priority I should have posted this as comment on Baroness Murphy’s post. However, it relates more closely to some of the language in Lord Soley’s post. Also it takes the big pictre remarks of Jken and goes into bigger picture.

    This is a self promoting link to a post in my blog originaly placed where people who are used to my more bitter langauge read me and would not be the words I might post here otherwise. But it does relate to sex as a POLICY area that is also deeply tied to personhood. The tone is fairly personal as well.

  5. baronessmurphy
    20/09/2009 at 10:53 am

    I know that many people of my age (and that of Lord Soley) are nostalgic for the days when children were not cosseted and protected, I say overprotected, in the way they are now. In our quiet suburb of Nottingham in the 1950s I made my own way walking to Infant School half a mile away from the age of 5 and from age 11 went into the centre of Nottingham by 2 buses to go to school. Neither my parents nor anyone else’s would have thought of taking us–there was no car available anyway but we were expected to behave like adults (we didn’t of course, we often made a terrible noise and sometimes Lil on the number 33 gave us hell). We had strict instructions about not accepting sweets from strangers (although I did all the time) but we did know who to be suspicious of and what was inappropriate interest. The risks of the traffic in town were the same as now, the risk of sexual abuse the same as now but our parents accepted the risk of our playing outside our homes ‘on the rec’, on the local wooded waste land, fishing for tadpoles in the local pond and so on and as long as we were home for tea what we got up to was largely our business. I once fell fully clothed into the local Highfields ‘lido’ having been somewhat carelessly supervised by my 12 year old brother. The ignominy of sitting fully clothed dripping on the bus home rather put me off such risky larking about. My Mother never said anything when we arrived home except how daft I was. She certainly didn’t stop me going to the lido again. Am I being too hopelessly naive to hope that a new generation of children can be allowed to grow up taking the risks that turn us into risk-taking adults?

    • Senex
      20/09/2009 at 2:37 pm

      Baroness: Given the nature of your work in psychiatry I feel sure that you will have read Aldous Huxley’s 1932 classic ‘Brave New World’?

      What you may not know is that director Ridley Scott has confirmed that he is working on a major new adaptation of the book.

      I never actually read the book but remember seeing a TV/Film adaptation back in the mid 1980’s. It struck a note with me then and I’m sure the new work will too. Leonardo DiCaprio is to take a leading role as it was his production company that brought it to Ridley Scott’s attention.

      I don’t know if you use Firefox, I do and I also use the ‘NoScript’ addon. The link above is a good example of multisite involvement with a primary site Ridley is thinking along the lines that the internet may become Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’.

  6. Steve L
    20/09/2009 at 10:13 pm

    Are you completely mad, or incapable of perspective?

    Just look at the guidance for the operation of this new scheme.

    It will end up with people tainted and excluded simply though rumour, smear, and innuendo.

    For goodness sake, get some perspective, and apply common sense. This will be ridiculously expensive, and corrosive to society.

  7. Senex
    21/09/2009 at 1:18 pm

    Lord Soley: “I’ll have to get my thinking cap on for this one!”

    I don’t think peers should necessarily reproach themselves for what outwardly appears to be an act of omission. This is simply not the case.

    Generally, when Parliament produces a statute it cannot hope to accommodate all of the permutations that might seek to thwart its spirit. There is only one genre of act that attempts to do this, finance acts.

    To remedy shortcomings government departments issue regulations that are essentially subjective advise on how to conform to an act. Others might say that regulations are a political cop out because politicians could not get their way during the passage of a bill.

    Law enforcement does not police regulatory compliance. Failure to comply must be advised in writing to the government department responsible for the regulation or the statutory body responsible for compliance before they can act by way of remedy. Even then this process is open to appeal and the matter may end up in the courts.

    The irony here is that the regulation seeks to minimise the risk of abuse whilst at the same time regulations themselves are the subject of wide scale abuse of differing kinds. There is clearly a conflict between the needs of organisational care where abuse does sometimes happen and individual carers outside of this scope.

    It often seems to me that society asks Parliament to create a utopia where non can come to harm or suffer unhappiness. The shallowness of such politics serves nobody well. Neither MP’s nor peers are in a position to formally test regulations; they are the dominion of government, the civil service and the courts.

    Ref: Independent Safe Guarding Authority
    Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

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