Esther Rantzen set up Childline back in the late 80s to help those young people who were being sexually or physically abused, and to raise awareness of where this abuse was happening. What she did not intend, or expect, was the wider impact that Childline would have on society. Rantzen writes in today's Daily Mail about how the child line campaign has resulted in an atmosphere of political correctness which overprotects people and undermines relationships. She now feels responsible for this unwelcome development.
The overprotection Esther talks about is that people are so concerned about doing the right thing that they have lost sight of common sense and are 'pretending to see danger where there is none'. For example, Esther talks about how in some schools competitive sports are not only downplayed but banned. 'Some schools believe that failure is morally wrong and that losing will destroy the fragile child.' This is of course skewing reality and not only undermining young people, because it is saying that they can't cope, but it is also stopping those who love sports to compete. Relationships are being damaged too.' Teachers and adults must watch what they say or do: a cuddle or a kiss on the head might end in allegations of abuse.' This may also result in adults being unwilling to mentor young people for fear of being accused of sinister motives.
Though we still need a process to make sure that paedophiles, and other people who are a threat to young people, do not end up in positions where they could harm children, Rantzen says that 'we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater' and that the over protection has got to the point where we have lost sight of the real risks in the world.' For example, she talks about schools unwilling to take out a child's splinter using tweezers as it is now seen as an invasive operation!' As Rantzen says we have lost common sense when it comes to dealing with young people and this may be interfering with them having a normal childhood. To read the article click here