Should all adults who work with children on a ‘frequent or intensive’ basis be required to undergo government “vetting”?
The Government has new child safety plans to vet the 11 million adults in regular contact with other people’s children. This can be seen as another manifestation of the ‘nanny state’ and may well be wildly ambitious. However is it a justified invasion of privacy and worth the cost of doing all those checks?
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Can stop people BEFORE they offend.
The current C.R.B system only tells you if someone has committed a child-related offense. The vetting is performed on everyone. It will also be compulsory for organizations with a large fine for failing to co-operate, while some very informal, small organizations and individuals hiring childminders do not perform C.R.B checks. We don't want people to be allowed to perform first offenses.
Prevention is better than cure: People who are being monitored are less likely to do something horrible and offensive unless they feel they will get support/attention. Why are examinations invigilated? Why are guards guarding gates? Why are security cameras big-Brother-ing/Nanny-ing everyone?
1.It is easier to catch people in the act(prove their guilt) and therefore punish them.
2.Deterrence:Since offenders are easier to catch(and punish) less people will commit the offense.
How exactly do you tell if someone is going to offend before they have committed the offense? Psychic powers? Inability to pay £64? Not every paedophile shows obvious signs of being a paedophile, some look perfectly respectable, and there is a danger that people who just act in socially unacceptable ways because they have very different personalities, views and lifestyles to the norm will be judged unsuitable to work with children.
This system isn't that formal - it is still full of confusion over who is required to register. What counts as 'frequent or intensive' contact with children?
Besides, being an improvement on an even worse system does not make a bad system into a good system.
Impractical to implement.
If implemented, the system will require 11 million people to be vetted, costing £64 per person. The sheer practical and financial scale of this project is going to have a damaging effect in the middle of a recession.
Discourages innocent people from working with children.
Many people who work with children legitimately and would be targetted by the vetting, such as parents who take their friends' children to school in their cars by common arrangement, would find the increased paperwork not worth the hassle, not be able to afford £64 or would be too scared of the £5000 fine for not registering. Another similar worry is that people with a legitimate reason to work with children, but who are not involved in an organised project, would not be able to pass the checks. We do not want to be in a situation where we have a lack of people working with children doing important jobs because nobody wants to go through the paperwork any more.
Volunteers will have the £64 fee waived, and as the organisation hiring people faces a much larger fine for failing to perform the vetting properly, they are likely to want to be helpful with the paperwork.
Doesn't stop child abusers.
It only targets people working with children on a "frequent or intensive" basis[[http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/sep/14/vetting-scheme-review-adults-children]]. It only takes a couple of minutes alone with a child to murder them. Ian Huntley in the Soham Case wasn't even working for the school at the time, he worked in the adult's college over the road and was allowed in the school to see his girlfriend.
He also used false references that were never checked out - this kind of incompetence is going to be a problem even with the vetting, stricter laws are no use if the bureaucrats aren't actually implementing them properly. Added to this, we already know from experience that the database is not accurate.
Finally, most cases of abuse such as Baby P happen in the home, not in schools and volunteer projects. The project can't vet parents, relatives and close friends.
It won't stop all cases of child abuse, but it is likely to prevent many cases of institutional abuse. Seeing as the system isn't designed to prevent abuse within the family - that's what social workers are for - it isn't a fault that it doesn't.
In answer to the second concern, the overall programme that includes the vetting will also involve 'providing intensive training to its caseworkers' and 'Ensuring the IT infrastructure is in place and effective'.[[http://www.isa-gov.org.uk/Default.aspx?page=387]]
We need informal relationships with children.
Children need informal relationships with adult friends, jsut as they need to play with other children. It is a social situation that they need to learn about. They are going to meet people older than them in situations other than institutionalised environments, they need to know that adults aren't automatically hostile but that they shouldn't take sweets from strangers or go in their cars. Adults need to be able to comfortably be in informal situations around children as well, otherwise we will create a society where nobody knows how to deal with other people's children. It is just how humans live - in communities of other adults and children. In a community where adults are allowed to have healthy informal contact with children, they are less likely to develop warped relationships with children - which is essentially what paedophilia is. If people can't be trusted to have innocent relations with children, they won't have any chance to develop this innocence and so won't be innocent.
What about other cases of abuse?
The laws are tightening about working with children, but what about vulnerable adults such as elderly people or adults with learning difficulties, or situations where one adult has a lot of authority over another adult that they could misuse, like a doctor or police officer? What about animal abuse? Humans instinctively protect their young, and so we can be provoked to be more sentimental about cases involving children, and therefore the Government can get more support from those who act only from instinct. But by concentrating only on cases concerning children, we are neglecting other cases of abuse.
What do you think?