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A Call to safeguard our children and our liberties. A Letter from Boston, USA, June 1998, signed by many persons.

Aufruf zum Schutz unserer Kinder und unserer Freiheiten
Boston MA/USA, im Juni 1998 

Una Llamada a salvaguadar nuestros niños y nuestras libertades 

Appleton, Josie, Losing touch; The Guardian, February 9, 2005 

With teachers and carers no longer allowed to offer comforting hugs - or even put on a plaster, their relationship with the children they look after is suffering, writes Josie Appleton.
Comforting a child when they're upset, putting a plaster on them, changing their wet pants - all these everyday ways in which adults care for young children are now seen as suspect.

Appleton, Josie, Don't touch those kids! - spiked-online, February 28, 2006 

New research reveals why teachers and childcare workers now avoid putting a plaster on a child's leg - even though they know the rules are ridiculous. [...]
Some staff realise that they are poisoning their relationship with their charges, and depriving kids of the care and attention they need. One special school, with children as young as five, generally only touched when it was strictly necessary and avoided 'caring touching'.

Blackburn, R.,  "Family Values" do not include good sexual health, from http://www.allaboutsex.org/

You might be thinking that this title sounds a little odd. You might be thinking that your family's values certainly include the health of your children. If you are thinking that something seems "amiss", that there must be a "catch" . Well, I'm sorry to say that there isn't.

Bristow, Jennie, Children: over-surveilled, under-protected; A recent conference in London highlighted the dangers of the government's insidious monitoring of our children's lives;  Spiked-online,com, 20 July 2006
How have we reached such a state of institutionalised suspicion that a respected vicar can be obliged to resign as a school governor for kissing a 10-year-old girl on the forehead in class?
That's what happened in Britain recently. A recent London conference on child protection
offered a rare chance to put such absurd events in some wider critical perspective.

Brooks, Karen, Culture of fear; February 1, 2006, thecouriermail.news.com.au
So, it has finally come to this: Various sporting organisations banning parents and other adults from taking photos of children competing in games, frolicking on the beach or in pools and generally doing what we continue to lament the younger generations don't do enough of – being physically active.
The reason for these touted bans is sad and understandable. It's to deter pedophiles from taking covert photographs, misappropriating them and gaining whatever sick pleasures they, or others, might from them.
One can't help but wonder, are these proposed bans taking our concerns too far? Is this reductio ad absurdum in practice? I fear it may well be.

Clements, David, Every Child Matters - but so does our privacy; We must not accept state intrusion in our private lives in the name of children's 'well-being'. spiked-online, 16 October 2006 - Speech at the debate Does Every Child really Matter - has the abuse panic gone too far?, at the Battle of Ideas festival in London on Sunday 29 October 2006. 
Under the Blair government's Every Child Matters reforms, local authorities and other agencies working with children are required to protect children under a new duty to 'safeguard' them and promote their welfare, to work together more closely and share information, and by creating new high-powered posts to oversee children's services. However, these reforms are not so much the antidote to child abuse panics, as implicated in them.

Cunningham, Jenny, Play on; 3 January 2002, spiked-online.com 

A significant body of research evidence now indicates that there has been a drastic decline in children's outdoor activity and unsupervised play [...]
An open debate is required among parents, professionals and local authorities about the negative impact of 'litigation culture' on children's play opportunities.

David: Stop protecting me! A youngster speaks on his web site.

Dick, Sandra, Protection risks doing more harm than good; Scotsman.com, 18 Jan 2005 

Indeed, this is just the latest in a long line of directives issued by nervous organisations the length and breadth of the country which have left adults having to think twice about throwing their arms around a sobbing child, tending to a scraped knee or even speaking to a youngster that doesn't happen to be their own.
No wonder many parents and child-care experts are now questioning whether the main reason for so many increasingly bizarre rules is to protect organisations from today's "claims culture" - at the expense of children who are increasingly become "untouchables".

Families for Freedom, Stranger Danger.

Families for Freedom warn against too much anxiety for strangers.

Furedi, Frank, Paranoid Parenting, published in March, 2001 by Allen Lane, Introduction.

Tony is giving up teaching. Although he would not use the words, it was 'parental paranoia' that drove him out of the West Sussex primary school where he had taught for three years. During his teacher training, Tony had anticipated that he might be stretched by the challenge of dealing with rowdy children. But he was not prepared for the task of coping with 'difficult' anxious parents. The most taxing moments of his working life were to be spent dealing with 'worried mums'. He sighs as he tells of the mother who insisted on driving behind her son's coach to France to ensure that he arrived safely. He wearily recalls how a school trip to the seaside, planned for a class of 5-year-olds was cancelled because two parents were concerned that the trip would involve their children in a 45-minute journey in a private car. Would the cars be roadworthy? Who would accompany a child to the lavatory? Who would ensure correct fitting seat belts? Were these normally non-smoking cars, or would the children be made victims of passive smoking? 

Furedi, F., Robbing kids of their childhood and teaching parents to panic; Let children be children and adults be adults, Living Marxism, issue 113, September 1998

Furedi, F., Watch out, adults about, August 1999

Our obsession with child abusers risks destroying the traditional trust between generations.

Furedi, Frank, Paranoid Parenting: Abandon Your Anxieties And Be A Good Parent:

Freely, Maureen, & Bright, Martin, Stop being paranoid, Britain's parents told; Controversial book says obsessive fears about children's safety are a bigger threat than bullies or paedophiles; in The Observer, March 11, 2001

A controversial new book on child-rearing to be published this week will urge parents to let their children take more risks and stop panicking about playground bullies and paedophiles. The book's author, Frank Furedi, Reader in Sociology at the University of Kent, argues that parents' obsession with the safety of their children is more damaging than the risks themselves.
Paranoid Parenting: Abandon Your Anxieties And Be A Good Parent says parents should be wary of traditional 'child-centred' experts and urges the Government not to meddle in the family and parenting.

Scared silly, 14 March 2001
[...] In particular, what he noticed was that children were no longer left to their own devices. He describes it as a "colonisation" of the world of children by adults. As a consequence, he says, adults not only inhabit but control the lives of children to an alarming and unhealthy extent.

Home Office Report says: Most child sex attacks committed by relatives, family friends. 1999 by Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet)

 Children are at much greater risk of sexual abuse from relatives and family friends than they are from predatory paedophiles, according to new British government research out Friday. [...]
The research found that only one in five men jailed for molesting children was likely to be caught re-offending, compared with reconviction figures of 50 percent for non-sexual offenders within two years of the original crime.

How Our Paranoia About Paedophilia Is Compromising Bonds Of Trust, Obsession that now blights every man's love for a child; 7th December 2000 [Author & source unknown]

I see men holding back when they might have picked a child up, rejecting hugs, making excuses.
I see parents, too, reining their children in, over nannying them, shutting them away. This generation of children will go through their teenage years without their parents bringing out bath-time pictures to embarrass them in front of their girlfriends and boyfriends, they're too scared to take bath-time pictures in case people (the developers? the police?) misconstrue them.
The reason for this caution is our obsession with paedophilia and it is an obsession, make no mistake.
We have no evidence of a higher incidence of paedophilia now than there ever was yet we are more frightened than we have ever been. We 'see' paedophiles at every street corner, by every school gate

Jarvie, Jennie, Paedophilia scares threaten future of music teaching, Sunday Telegraph, 6 May 2001

THE headmaster of England's most renowned classical music school has warned that the creative development of young prodigies is being undermined by a culture of suspicion that discourages teachers from touching pupils. Nicolas Chisholm, the headmaster of the Yehudi Menuhin School for young musicians in Cobham, Surrey, told The Sunday Telegraph that the quality of teaching is under threat as tutors are widely discouraged from touching children because of growing paranoia about paedophilia. [...]
Close bonds between gifted pupils and their tutors were crucial, said Mr Chisholm, and necessarily involve physical contact. "Teaching gifted children is tricky because of the modern fear about relationships between adults and children," he said. "There's a constant looking over one's shoulder and a fear of litigation.

Mccaffrey, Julie, We lost our kids for two years after being wrongly branded as child abusers; The nightmare story every parent must read; The Mirror, 23 October 2006
The family's horror story began in May 2004. An 11-year-old boy was invited to play with the children in the paddling pool and he and Buffy [daughter] were sent to change out of their swimming gear and into their bed clothes. But when Tim [the father] went upstairs, he found the boy, minus his pyjama bottoms, on top of his five-year-old daughter whose nightie was lifted above her waist.
"I was so furious I called the police," says Tim [...]. The cops were followed by social services. And there began the chain of events that ripped the family to pieces.

NSPCC Report: four related articles:

'One in 14' children attacked,  BBC News, 19 November 2000
One in 14 young people have been violently assaulted as children, in most cases at the hands of their parents, according to a major report.

Child abuse 'myths' shattered, BBC On Line Service, 19 November 2000
Children are more likely to be sexually abused by people of their own age than by adults, a major report reveals. [...]
Mary Marsh, NSPCC chief executive, said the findings overturn traditional stereotypes.
"Modern myths about child cruelty have emerged from the public attention given to horrific and frightening cases of child abuse by strangers. "Other traditional stereotypes come from a historical wellspring of children's stories about wicked adult bogey figures.
"These stereotypes have become part of popular culture."

Revealed: the truth about child sex abuse in Britain's families, By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor, 19 November 2000, The Independent
An inquiry into the sexual abuse of children has revealed that the widespread belief that fathers are chiefly responsible for the most serious of domestic crimes is wrong. Most sexual abuse of children is carried out by their siblings.
The finding, from an investigation by the National Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, is the most comprehensive ever carried out and turns on its head the conventional picture of the sexual exploitation of children. After more than a decade in which adult men have been cast as the villains, the finger of suspicion has switched to their sons.

Why little boys are not sex offenders, by Dea Birkett Tuesday November 21, 2000, The Guardian
It is not surprising that the report's findings show physical abuse to be seven times more prevalent than sexual abuse. But the coverage has focused almost entirely on the sexual element. This focus on child-on-child sex abuse has arisen from exactly the same professional quarters that introduced us to the atrocities of adult sex offenders.
But you cannot and should not apply the same judgments and analysis to children's behaviour. A seven-year-old showing his willy to a four-year-old is not the same thing as a 40-year-old man flashing at a woman in the park.
Kiss chase in the playground is not a form of indecent assault. It's a game, even if occasionally an unwelcome or unwanted one. The intention, understanding, meaning and effect are entirely different.

O'Carroll, Tom, Sexual Privacy for Paedophiles and Children
Paper delivered to the Symposium on Sexual Privacy at the annual meeting of the International Academy of Sex Research, Paris, June 2000, with

Background Paper & Foot notes
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About the overprotection of children

Phillips, Angela, Boy's self-esteem depends on 'Highly Involved Men', The Guardian/17 March 99

FORGET the sensitive New Man and his lager-fuelled opposite, the New Lad. A newer and more positive masculine role model has emerged - the Highly Involved Man (HIM). He is a key factor in building the self-esteem and success of boys, according to a report published on Tuesday. It is the quality of his relationship with the man in his life which marks out the supremely confident boy from his peers. The man doesn't have to live with him, he doesn't even have to be Dad, but he does have to take an interest.

Prescott, James W., Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence, in: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November 1975, pp 10-20
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Prescott, James W., Körperliche Lust und die Ursprünge der Gewalttätigkeit, von James W. Prescott, Aus: The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists, November 1975, S. 10-20
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Prescott, James W., Le plaisir du corps et l'origine de la violence, Tiré du "The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists", Novembre 1975: 10-20
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Rosario, Rubén, Talking to strangers can sometimes be a good thing for kids; 'Stranger danger' rule needs revising, expert says; 27 June 2005 - source unknown 

"Hard and fast rules like, 'Don't talk to strangers' can actually cause more harm," argues Jacobs, who works as program manager for a St. Paul-based foundation named after Minne-sota's best-known victim of a still unsolved stranger abduction, Jacob Wetterling.
"We used to teach stranger danger, but it can put kids more at risk," adds Jacobs, a public health specialist who conducts child safety presentations nationally on behalf of the foundation. "We have to get real with children about the facts and teach them how to navigate the world when adults they know aren't around."
[...] And there is no better illustration of it than the circumstances surrounding the recent case of an 11-year-old boy lost in the Utah woods for four days. Brennan Hawkins deliberately eluded a massive search and placed his life in further peril because of his fear of strangers.

Scott,Sue;  Stevi Jackson & Kathryn Backett-Milburn,  Swings and roundabouts: risk anxiety and the everyday worlds of children, Sociology 11/1998

A number of key antinomies have emerged in relation to children and childhood in late modernity: in particular, contradictions between recognising children's autonomy and the increasing emphasis on child protection; the paradoxical perception of children as both at risk and as a potential threat to other children and to social order. These contradictions may be expressed as tensions between two conceptualisations of children: as active, knowing, autonomous individuals, on the one hand, and as passive, innocent dependants, on the other. Our focus here is on risk and risk anxiety in general and more specifically on the sexualisation of risk in relation to children and the consequences of this for children's daily lives. In a climate of increased public and professional anxiety about the sexual abuse of children, notions of sexual risk increasingly inform political debate, public policy and child education campaigns around safety and danger.

Schmidy, Randolph E., Family Members Are Common Kidnappers, The Associated Press

One of parents' major fears is the lurking stranger who suddenly grabs and kidnaps their child.
But a new government study released Monday shows that parents need to worry about more than stranger danger: Youngsters are more likely to be kidnapped by an acquaintance.
The most common kidnapper - listed in 49 percent of cases - is a member of the child's family, said the report ``Kidnapping of Juveniles,'' released by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs.

Stix, Nicholas, Child Molester Hysteria in New York; Many of those who claim to be dedicated to protecting children are actually more interested in terrorizing grownups; 29 January 2005, webcommentary.com. 

Apparently, a new child molester is roaming South Queens, New York – me! 
I say that, because recently a girl of about 11 years of age walking in my neighborhood kept nervously looking over her shoulder at me. When I sought to comfort her with a kindly smile, she became even more alarmed. 

Streets safer for children than ever before, 11th June 2000, Author & source unknown

New research has established that the frequency of child abduction, murder, attack and injury in car accidents is lower than for a decade - but parents are increasingly anxious. The myth of lurking danger behind every street corner has so alarmed the children's charity Play Scotland that at a conference in Glasgow yesterday it set out to convince parents that they are damaging children by being unnecessarily overprotective.

Sunday Times, Articles about the overprotection of children in the UK:

a. 'Stranger danger' warning to young - draws criticism. " CHILDREN as young as two should be taught the rudiments of personal safety and advised never to talk to strangers, a children's charity will say today."

b. Paranoid parents 'denying children freedom to play, 3rd August 1999. "CHILDREN are being denied the opportunities for play enjoyed by previous generations because of their parents' paranoia, research will confirm this week."

c. Comment in the Sunday Times. {..} " Had I been a man, she'd have called the police. Nowadays, the only unpaid adult interested in our children is expected to be a paedophile."

Swallows, Amazons... prisoners, July 15 2000, author & source unknown

We take away our children's freedom, something which for adults would be called a right. Each time I write about this subject I get letters from fellow mothers who say they have been shunned by the parents of their children's friends because they are deemed to have an "irresponsible" attitude to safety. I say the responsible way to behave is to keep your fears in proportion, train your children to cope with danger and allow them to reclaim the streets.

Talbot, Margaret, Against Innocence; The truth about child abuse and the truth about children, in: The New Republic 15 March 1999.
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We owe it to our children not to invent them according to our own needs and our own desires. It is our duty to know them as they are, and to nurture and to protect them on the grounds of what they are. Their enchantment is certainly great enough to survive our disenchantment; and our enchantment has anyway not served them very well. They are not pure. They are merely helpless and human.

Waiton, Stuart, Fear goes with the fences, 04/01/2002 Times Educational Supplement
Most of the teachers I speak to feel uncomfortable with the development of prison camps once known as schools. Surely something must be done to stop the future generation growing up to be even more paranoid.

Waiton, Stuart, Scared of the Kids? Curfews, crime and the regulation of young people
, May 2001.

Scared of the Kids? is a thorough examination of the lives of and relationships between young people and adults within communities today. The book is recommended as an important overview or anybody working within the community – especially those working with children, young people and families.
A key question the author addresses is "How should those of us working in the community deal with the levels of fear and insecurity that exists between the generations?"

Walker, Kirsty, A cuddle a day can keep a life of crime at bay
By Kirsty Walker, Social Affairs Correspondent, in: Express Newspapers, 18.01.2000.

CHILDREN who are not cuddled when they are young are in danger of turning into violent adults.
New research has shown parents who starve their children of physical affection are damaging them emotionally and physically.
Leading psychologists say they have also found a strong link between high levels of crime and societies where touching is frowned upon.
Fears about claims of sexual abuse and the threat of lawsuits have made parents and teachers increasingly nervous about touching children in public.

What Ever Happened To Play? 22nd April 2001 [USA, source & Author unknown]

Theresa Collins lives next to a park, but her kids don't play there all that often. For one thing, all three of her children lead busy lives, what with school, piano lessons, soccer practice and the constant distraction of the home computer. What's more, she fears that the park is dangerous. "I've heard of people exposing themselves there," says Theresa, a 42-year-old special-education teacher in Sarasota, Fla. And while she's not sure if the scary stories are true, she would rather be safe than sorry, like so many other contemporary parents. Her daughter Erica, 9, isn't allowed to visit the park without her brother Christopher, 11, who wasn't permitted to play alone there until about a month ago. As for Matthew, 16, who might have supervised Christopher, he avoids the park by choice. He favors video games.


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