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Absurdities

- Absurd fears  
- Absurd arrests 
- Call the cops! 
- What the cops do 
- What the judges do: absurd penalties 
- Extended therapy for seeing a book 
- Do not touch any child 
- Take a knife 
- Hysteria is dangerous 

Absurd fears

Schools bar parents from sports day... to keep out paedophiles
Daily Mail (UK), 04th July 2009

Parents were banned from attending an inter-school sports day to protect pupils from kidnappers and paedophiles. The host school said they could not prevent 'unsavoury' characters from sneaking in.

More than 270 pupils from four local primaries took part in the East Beds School Sports Partnership Athletics Day at Sandy Upper School in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire last week.

School sports day

Great tradition: The presence of parents is a big boost for children on school sports days, say critics of the ban.

Youngsters aged seven and eight competed in the long jump, hurdles, sprint, 400 metres and relay races. Their parents, many of whom wanted to take time off work to attend, condemned the ban.

One mother [...]: 

'[...] I think it's just health and safety gone mad.'

Mother-of-three Emma [...] said: 

'I would have taken time off work to support my child. It would have meant a lot to me. 'I'm all for measures to protect the safety of children but lines must be drawn and common sense must prevail.'

Paul Blunt of the East Bedfordshire School Sports Partnership, which ran the event, said the 'ultimate fear' was that a child could be abducted.

He said: 'If we let parents into the school they would have been free to roam the grounds. All unsupervised adults must be kept away from children.'

Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said it was 'totally unreasonable' to ban parents from a sports day.

'It's clearly a serious misjudgement. One of the great pleasures of sports day is that their parents can watch them take part,' he said. 'If you followed the thinking of this ban you wouldn't be able to let you child out of the front door.'

'2010 a magnet for child sex predators'
By Rivonia Naidu; iol.co.za; October 31, 2008

Children will be at risk from sexual predators during the 2010 soccer World Cup. This was the warning sounded by Acting Film and Publications Board CEO Iyaver Chetty on Thursday, at the opening of the board's Durban office.

He said not all those coming to South Africa in 2010 would be football enthusiasts. Among the fans would be paedophiles looking to target children.

Approached for comment, Childline national co-ordinator Joan van Niekerk agreed, saying they were extremely concerned about paedophiles entering the country during 2010.
[...]
Chetty said: [...] 

"Our counterparts from overseas have already alerted us to the fact that child abusers and sex offenders from their countries would be here to prey on our young children because these offenders think there won't be adequate policing,"  [...] These offenders will be able to take advantage of our children, especially our street children and those who come from dysfunctional families." 

[...]
Van Niekerk said [...]: 

"Because of this, our children will fall through the cracks and we will lose them to sex offenders."[...]
"We need to [...] send out a stern message to these paedophiles that if they harm our children, they will be caught, punished and spend time in prison. We need to provide a comprehensive safety net for our children."

She also spoke about the dangers linked to the proposed school closures for the duration of the World Cup.

"Unfortunately, a lot of the focus of crime prevention has been devoted to tourist and player safety, and if the national department of education closes schools for six weeks, who is then going to look after our children? School is a safety haven for them, and if it's closed, our children will become more vulnerable," she said.

Provincial police spokesperson Superintendent Jay Naicker said there would be task teams set up in the province to focus on all crimes, including those involving the sexual exploitation of children.

Post Office Puts Buffer Between Kids and Santas
nbcactionnews.com, Dec 2008

NEW YORK (AP) -- A sex offender is responsible for taking away some of the joy of the Postal Service's Operation Santa program: Volunteers who answer children's letters to Santa can no longer deliver gifts in person -- or even know where they're going.

The program resumed Saturday morning in New York and Chicago, three days after it was abruptly suspended after a postal worker in Maryland recognized one volunteer as a registered offender. A postal inspector intervened before the individual could answer a child's letter, but officials decided changes had to be made.

It was a shocking moment for the effort, which started in New York's main post office in the 1920s. Back then, postal clerks answered Santa's mail, buying food and toys for children. Over the years, the number of letters increased, and the program was opened to the public in post offices around the country.

For some gift-givers, one of the personal pleasures was to show up and surprise needy kids at home -- after rifling through piles of letters and envelopes looking for a story that tugged at their heartstrings.

Now, those opportunities for face-to-face contact are gone. Volunteers will no longer have access to the children's last names or addresses.

At New York City's main post office on Saturday, each letter had been removed from its envelope and photocopied, with the child's family name blocked out, if it happened to appear in the text. The addresses were replaced with codes that match computerized addresses known only to the post office.
[... ... ...]

Absurd arrests 

Grandma Arrested for Child Porn 
Radley Balko, Reason Magazine, May 4, 2009

Back in 2005, a WalMart worker in Pennsylvania reported 59-year-old Donna Dull to local authorities after Dull dropped off some film that included shots of her three-year-old granddaughter in and just out of the bath. Dull was arrested - roughly, she says -and charged with producing and distributing child pornography. The charges were dropped 15 months
later when a Pennsylvania special prosecutor overruled the local DA. Only Dull, her attorney, and police and prosecutors have apparently seen the photos, which are now under seal. She's now suing.

In this follow-up article from the York Daily Record, state officials seem to be trying to reassure parents and grandparents that they have nothing to worry about - that you needn't fret about having your life ruined and reputation destroyed by false child porn charges for taking nude pictures of your infant or toddler. Problem is, their reassurances aren't very convincing.

Christopher Moore, a special prosecutor in the York County District Attorney's Office, is after "perverts, not parents."

Moore was commenting on the "gray area" between the typical family picture of the 2-year-old getting a bath in the kitchen sink and a picture a pedophile may enjoy.

"It can be the same picture", Moore said.

"But," Moore added, "that is not a reason for parents and grandparents to avoid taking those pictures ..."

"It's not what the (child protection) law was designed for. Your rights are not restricted in any form by the law."

But it appears that's precisely what Dull was arrested for. And the DA in Dull's case insists he was right. Or at least he's pretty sure he was:

[District Attorney] Rebert said in Dull's case, 

"What made them offensive was their graphic nature. A little girl with her bare butt showing, kind of looking over her shoulder. It's a difficult distinction to make. What's a cute butt and what's pornographic?
I think what she (Dull) did was stupid and in very poor judgment. It was an interesting case and I think we did the right thing."

So because the photo could have been interpreted as pornographic by someone who was looking for child porn, arresting the woman and ruining her life (or at least severely disrupting it) was the "right thing" to do. 

From the description, we aren't talking about splayed legs or
exposed genitalia, here. It's a kid's butt, and a playful peer over the shoulder. 

I'm glad Special Prosecutor Moore overruled District Attorney Rebert, but that Dull was arrested in the first place puts the lie to
Moore's assertion that this sort of hysteria "is not a reason for parents and grandparents to avoid taking those pictures." It most
certainly is. Or at least getting them printed somewhere outside your home. Unless you consider an arrest and 15 months under the label of "accused child pornographer" to be harmless.

It only gets more confusing from there. Here's the prosecutor who initially approved the charges against Dull:

David Cook, now in private practice . . . declined to say if he disagreed with Rebert's decision to dismiss the charges.

He did say, 

"There was no legitimate purpose for those photographs.
I would never pose my daughter or my step-daughter like that. It kind of boils down to a gut feeling. If it feels wrong, it probably is."

That sounds . . . ambiguous. How are Pennsylvania residents supposed to follow the law if the state's prosecutors can't even agree on its application?

Here, once again, is Special Prosecutor Moore, again trying to alleviate fears of parents, and again coming up short:

"It's a subjective versus objective standard," Moore said. "You think it's cute. Someone else might think different. That doesn't make it a crime.
Lots of sexual offenders use the Sears catalog to get off. That doesn't make (the catalog) illegal."

"It's a reasonable person standard with the reasonable person being a juror," Boyles said.

"And reasonable people can disagree," Moore said. "That's the gray area. That's when it comes to us."

Boyles and Moore also agreed that parents don't need to worry unnecessarily.

"Family pictures are family pictures," Boyles said.
"But if more of your pictures of your kids are of them naked rather than clothed, you might have a problem."

So in sum, if you don't want to get arrested and charged for taking nude photos of your infant or toddler, make sure you know what criteria your local prosecutor uses when navigating that "gray area" between a cute butt and a criminally alluring one 

(note: you probably don't want to actually pose this question to him). 

Also, if you find yourself under investigation after dropping off a roll of film at the CVS, you might want to bake the prosecutor some cookies, since it appears that his "gut" will be the final arbiter of whether you're a doting parent or an accused child pornographer.

Finally, even if the nude photos you've taken of your kids pass the clear-as-mud "cute butt," "gut feeling," and "reasonable people can disagree/that's when it comes to us" tests, and are deemed innocent as a basket of puppies, you could still be in violation of the law if the state determines that the clothed to unclothed-but-innocent ratio in your family photo albums is inappropriate.

Got all that? Good.

Because they promise, you really have nothing to worry about.

Call the cops!

If You See a Father Holding His Child's Hand, Call the Cops!
Glenn Sacks, bloggernews, 25 June, 2007

If dad goes for a walk with his daughter and holds her hand, apparently Virginia Department of Health officials wants you to pick up the phone and destroy his life by reporting him as a possible sexual abuser. I would've thought this article about this campaign was from the Onion or some satirical publication, but it's for real.

One of the most beautiful pictures I've ever seen is a picture of my father walking on the beach near sunset holding my daughter's little hand. The picture [above] of a man holding a child's hand-a touching little scene-is actually supposed to make us think he's sexually abusing the child. Unbelievable.

To read more on similar issues, visit Glenn Sacks' blog at
http://www.glennsacks.com .

Rush Limbaugh Covers Our Protest of Man-Bashing Virginia Health Department Billboards
Glenn Sacks, bloggernews, June 28th, 2007

In my recent blog post If You See a Father Holding His Child's Hand, Call the Cops!, I called attention to the man-bashing Virginia Department of Health poster [pictured above]. In calling on my readers to write and call the Virginia DoH [Department of Health] to protest, I wrote: [... see here above ...]

Many of you wrote the Virginia Department of Health, and apparently the poster has been taken off the website. Rush Limbaugh saw my commentary on the issue (probably via www.MensNewsDaily.com ), and covered it on his nationally-syndicated broadcast yesterday.

Campaign advocates recognizing, reporting suspected abuse Elizabeth Simpson, The Virginian-Pilot, June 21, 2007)

For years, campaigns to stop child sexual crimes have focused on encouraging children to speak up about abuse. State health officials are trying a new tactic. The latest push, at least in Hampton Roads, is to educate adults on how to spot - and stop - sexual offenders.

The 'Stop It Now' campaign - just launched locally - will urge people to call a help line if they see an adult whom they suspect of having a sexual relationship with a child.

Billboards and posters show an adult hand holding a child's hand, with the words: 'It doesn't feel right when I see them together.'

A national help line number is listed, and through it callers can get advice about what to do.

Rebecca Odor, who directs the sexual and domestic violence prevention division for the state Department of Health, said officials hope to reach people who might feel uncomfortable reporting a relative or acquaintance to law enforcers.

"We want to teach them to trust their instinct and, if it doesn't feel right, take action,' Odor said."

[... ... ...]

Into the Realm of Insanity: When Mooning is a Sex Crime
By Marc Gardner; Counterpunch, November 18, 2008
Marc Gardner is a defense lawyer in the Bay Area.

In 1993 JM turned around, dropped his trousers and told his sister-in-law to "kiss my black ass!" The younger sisters laughed, compounding the indignity. To make JM pay for this rude affront, the sister-in-law called the cops. He did three days in the county jail and pled out to misdemeanor indecent exposure and credit for time served.

Sounds pretty harsh, doesn't it? Three day and nights for mooning your sister in law?

Fast forward to 1998 when the voters of California passed "Megan's Law", (PC 290) requiring those convicted of certain sex offences to register with the local police for the rest of their lives. Indecent Exposure (PC 314) is listed under PC 290 and is applied retroactively. Required to register under penalty of felony, combined with a taste for illicit substances, JM picked up a new state prison term.

California's Proposition 83, voted and enacted in 2006, prohibits registered sex offenders from living within a certain distance of a school or a park. Most urban areas have no places to live within the required distance. The new law has been determined by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to apply retroactively once a parolee violates parole after the
election of 2006, no matter when the 290 offenses took place and even if, as with JM, it wasn't a felony requiring state prison and parole.

Until recently the parole officers have been looking the other way to a certain extent, given the impossibility of actually complying with the law, which explicitly forbids a parolee from spending a night in a non-compliant place.

JM was paroled to a Bay Area city where there are no compliant places. A brand new rule laid down by the CDCR is that one cannot be in the same non-compliant place for two hours. This is very recent, as we've been seeing these two-hour-rule violations for about the past week or two. JM is fortunate enough to have a trailer and a truck, so he and his wife have been moving his
home around the clock. This is probably not a healthy environment for someone with substance abuse issues.

This is the current state of paroled sex offenders: to stay out of prison they have to drift from place to place within two hours, twenty four hours a day. I wish I were making this up. Most of these people have no evidence in their history to show they are a threat to children, and many don't have a record of putting their hands on anyone else.

Things have gone beyond irrational into the realm of insanity. During JM's parole revocation hearing one of the Corrections Officers said that a "college streaker" had recently been at a hearing subject to this madness.

Granted, there are people who have done horrible things and JM's benign example is being used to show the breadth of the dragnet, but these laws are counterproductive in every way and from any angle given how difficult they make it to supervise the parolees and provide treatment, housing and employment opportunities, in addition to public safety issues arising from the
unendurable stress that they're put through.

If the voters of California don't want child molesters living near schools or playgrounds, then Section 290 of the California Penal Code has to be drastically overhauled so that it actually applies to convicted child molesters, although it is difficult to imagine any efficacy to a law which foments homelessness and helplessness.

What the cops do

Public Enemy No 1
Denise Buffa; New York Post. March 10, 2008

The parents of two Bronx preschoolers are suing the city, charging that their kids were tossed out of class - and handcuffed by a school-safety officer - for refusing to take a nap.

Lawyer Scott Agulnick said Jaden Diaz and Christopher Brito - both then 4 and students at CS 211, The Bilingual School - told their parents that a substitute teacher took them and another boy to an empty classroom on Nov. 17, 2006, and left them there alone.

Soon, the lawyer said, the school-safety officer entered the room,
cuffed the boys' wrists - and further terrified them by telling they
that they would never see their parents again.

"I wasn't shot, but my hands were tied," Christopher, now 5, recalled, according to his mother, Vasso Brito, a 34- year-old office worker - who says the little guy is now scared of police officers.

Brito, who's trying to transfer Christopher to another public school, said she was "shocked" to learn of what she considers to have been an absolute abuse of authority.

"Right now, I feel [there are] monsters in school," she said. "I'm still perturbed. As I'm talking to you, I'm shaking."

Jaden, now 6, remembers that a man who was dressed like a cop walked in, sat at a big desk - "like the one the judge is on" - and threatened them.

"He was police," Jaden said. "He said, 'You know what happens when you don't go to sleep in there? . . . 'When you go to jail, you're not going to have no fun, no TV, no toys.' "

Jaden - who asked his dad to move far enough away from him so as not to be able to hear his account of what happened - whispered to a reporter that he got a "little scared" when he saw the handcuffs attached to the safety officer's "costume."

He insisted that he was not handcuffed - though his mom, Sasha Diaz, said he confided in her that he was.

"It took me about a day to get it out of him. He didn't want to tell me . . . I don't know if he thought it was his fault," said Diaz, 27, an assistant teacher who now finds herself suddenly struggling to pay for her only child to attend Catholic school.

The families are seeking unspecified damages, said Agulnick, adding:

"Failure to comply with nap time is hardly an offense that warrants being handcuffed, or threatened, for that matter. Nothing would've warranted that."

The city Department of Education and the NYPD, which oversees school-safety officers, did not return requests for comment.

The boys' claims recall two other recent cases. In one, a mentally
challenged 10-year-old Brooklyn girl said a school-safety officer
handcuffed her outside school. In the other, a 5-year-old Queens boy said a school-safety officer snapped the cuffs on him inside his school.

'Evil destruction' of a happy family
The Telegraph, UK, 28 Sep 2009

However a new case has lately been surfacing, if anything even more shocking. This also involved the arrest of two parents and the abduction of their child by social workers, in a story so bizarre that, at last week's Prime Minister's Questions, Gordon Brown was asked about it by the family's MP, Charles Hendry, who has long been concerned with the case because the mother is a vice-chairman of his local Conservative Association.

The family's horrified GP [General Practitioner (Doctor)] says that, in 43 years of medical practice, he has never "encountered a case of such appalling injustice".

I first planned to describe this case in April, but was pre-empted by the draconian reporting restrictions on family cases, which, for reasons which will become tragically clear, have now been partly lifted.

The story began in April 2007 when "Mr Smith", as I must call him, had a visit from the RSPCA [Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] over the dog-breeding business he ran from the family home. He had docked the tails of five new-born puppies a procedure that had become illegal two days beforehand. Unaware of this, he promised in future to obey the new law.

Three days later, however, at nine o'clock in the morning, two RSPCA officials returned, accompanied in cars and riot vans by 18 policemen, who had apparently been tipped off, quite wrongly, that Mr Smith had guns in the house.

Armed with pepper spray, they ransacked the house, looking for the nonexistent guns. The dogs, released from their kennels, also rampaged through the house.

When Mr Smith and his wife, who was three months pregnant, volubly protested at what was happening, they were forcibly arrested in front of their screaming five-year-old daughter "Jenny" and taken away. Two hours later, with the house in a shambles the dogs having strewn the rabbit entrails meant for their dinner across the floor social workers arrived to remove the crying child.

Held for hours in a police cell, Mrs Smith had a miscarriage. When she was finally set free, she returned home that evening to find her daughter gone. It was the beginning of a barely comprehensible nightmare.

Her husband was charged with various offences connected with the dogs, including the tail-docking, but was eventually given a conditional discharge by a judge who accepted that he was "an animal lover" who had not been cruel to his dogs.

Far more serious, however, was that the social workers seemed determined to hang onto the child, now in foster care, on the sole grounds that they had found the house dirty and in a mess (the "animal entrails" played a large part in their evidence).

This was despite the testimony of a woman PC [Police Constable] (who had visited the house a month earlier on a different matter) that she found it "clean and tidy". Two hundred horrified neighbours, who knew the couple as doting parents of a happy, well-cared-for child, were about to stage a protest demonstration when they were stopped by the police, on the social workers' instructions that this might identify the child.

For more than two years the couple have been fighting through more than 100 hearings in the courts to win their daughter back.

From a mass of evidence, including psychiatric reports and tape recordings made at meetings with her parents (only allowed in the presence of social workers), it is clear she has been desperate to return home. It is equally clear that considerable pressure has been brought on the child to turn her against her parents,

One particularly bizarre psychiatric report was compiled after only an hour-long interview with the little girl. When she said she had once choked on a lollipop, this was interpreted as signifying that she could possibly have "been forced to have oral sex with her father".

After Mrs Smith alone had been subjected to four different psychiatric investigations, which came up with mixed findings, she refused to submit to a fifth, and this apparently weighed heavily with the judge who last December ordered that "Jenny" should be put out to adoption.

[...]

What is clear in this case, as in so many others, is that a system involving social workers, police and courts in what is an obviously very close alliance should yet again have left a happy, loving family destroyed for no very obvious reason, almost equally alarming is the way that system manages to shield itself from the world, through reporting restrictions which it claims are designed to protect the children but which too often end up by protecting only the system itself.

What the judges do: absurd penalties

Montevallo man sentenced 480 yr. for producing child pornography

Information from the U.S. Attorney's Office, December 10, 2008, nbc13.com

James Shawn Hulsey, 43, of Montevallo, was sentenced Tuesday, Dec. 9th by Judge Inge Johnson in U.S. District Court, to 480 years in prison for sixteen counts of production of child pornography. Hulsey's prison term is to be followed by Supervised Release for the remainder of his natural life. In addition, Hulsey will be required to register as a sex offender and no unsupervised contact with minors.

Hulsey and a female companion used a female child, who was only a few months old, and a male child, who was less than two years old, to produce child pornography. Hulsey and the female companion produced pictures of each other engaging in sexually explicit conduct with the minor children.

"Hulsey's abuse of this toddler and infant deserved every day of the 480 years he was sentenced to by Judge Johnson. May the light of day be denied to anyone who would abuse a child in this manner", stated United States Attorney Alice H. Martin. "My sincere thanks to our local and state law enforcement partners for bringing this matter to us for prosecution."


One-Size-Fits-All Government
John Stossel, blog, June 7, 2010 

A Nevada woman named Michelle Lyn Taylor "kissed a friend's [13 year-old] child, forced him to touch her breast and asked him to have sex with her."

That's bad, but should the punishment be... life in prison? That was the sentence that she got. In the sentencing [...], the defense attorney argues:

"The sentence here shocks the conscience. The minimum penalty for first degree murder is 50 years. She could get 25 years for 2nd degree murder... She is getting a greater penalty for letting a boy touch her breast than for murder."

The prosecutor didn't argue that a life sentence was reasonable -- rather, he just informed the judge that there was no choice:

"This is the sentence that the legislature of Nevada has created for this type of crime now really there's nothing left to be done except for the imposition of a life sentence."

After delivering the life sentence, the judge offered a confused-sounding explanation:

Ms. Taylor, you were charged with a crime with this sentence and apparently you weren't offered any plea deal ... I've done a lot of these cases and I can't figure it out. To tell you the truth I don't know why they charge what they charge ... and why they give plea bargains to some and others not, but I know that you had a jury trial, and you were charged, and this is the sentence. Good luck.

Good luck!? Julie Stewart of the group "Families Against Mandatory Minimums" tells us:

We are following this to its bitter end -- fighting to get it overturned in the State Supreme Court -- to try to make sure that this is overturned not just for her case, but that they overturn the law.

Once again, one-size-fits-all government policy imposes its nasty results.

Breast Feeding Her Baby, Sex Offender for LIFE?
When does a snapshot of a mother breast-feeding her child become kiddie porn? Ask the Richardson police.

By Thomas Korosec; Citizens for change, USA, cfcamerica.org

The service was fast, the judgments even hastier. Never did Jacqueline Mercado imagine that four rolls of film dropped off at an Eckerd Drugs one-hour photo lab near her home would turn her life inside out, threaten to send her to jail and prompt the state to take away her kids.

Jacqueline Mercado, a 33-year-old Peruvian immigrant, took a few photos of her young children at bath time. A week later, Richardson police were rummaging through her house for kiddie porn, and a state child welfare worker came to take her kids away.

For Mercado and her family, last fall was a happy time, one they wanted to record and save in the venerable tradition of the family photo. Johnny Fernandez, Mercado's boyfriend, had just emigrated from Lima, Peru, ending a yearlong separation, and on top of that, it was their son's first birthday.

The photographs they took over several days in late October included pictures of Fernandez reunited with the family at their modest home in suburban Richardson. Others captured their 1-year-old son Rodrigo, and 4-year-old Pablizio, from Mercado's earlier marriage, playing in a neighborhood park. Using the camera's timer, they also took three snapshots of themselves, naked in their bed. They arranged their bodies in ways that showed less flesh than most freeway billboards.

A half-dozen others recorded the kids at bath time. Fernandez took several photos of the boys "playing around," naked and innocent, with the oldest flashing a big smile. Mercado, who says she often bathed with the kids, is in several of the shots unclothed from the waist up, holding her arm modestly across her bare chest.

In one -- the photo that would threaten to send Mercado and her boyfriend to prison -- the infant Rodrigo is suckling her left breast.

After Mercado dropped off the film for processing, a technician viewed the images and decided they were "suspicious," according to a police report. As required under Texas law, he immediately contacted local police. Mercado says that when she went to pick up her pictures, the clerk told her there would be a delay, and then only returned three of the four sets of prints.

To Richardson police, who arrived at the store that afternoon and apparently made up their minds from the content of the pictures alone, this was nothing short of a felony case of child pornography.

"We thought they contained sexuality," says Sergeant Danny Martin, a Richardson police spokesman, explaining why two Richardson police detectives began pursuing a criminal case. "If you saw the photos, you'd know what I mean."

With nothing else to support their contention that the photos were related to sex or sexual gratification, the police and the Dallas County District Attorney's Office presented the photos to a grand jury in January and came away with indictments against Mercado and Fernandez for "sexual performance of a child," a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The charges centered on a single photo, the breast-feeding shot. Fernandez and Mercado say they took it -- although the child had ceased breast-feeding -- to memorialize that stage of their baby's development.

"We wanted to see if he would take it, and he did," says Mercado, explaining through an interpreter that it was a spur-of-the moment notion to which they gave little thought. "Johnny never saw the child breast-feeding, so this was for memories. For us."

Mercado, who brushed back strands of brown hair from her reddened eyes as she spoke, has a story that has not changed from the start. She told the Richardson police officer who responded to the store's call that she had always taken pictures of her children nude, and that it wasn't uncommon in her native Peru to do so. They were innocent baby pictures, taken for the family's benefit, she said.

Five days later, when a state child welfare investigator and two detectives arrived at her house, Mercado again insisted that she saw nothing wrong with the photos. She allowed the group to search the couple's cramped room, and the detectives went through everything, including their photo albums, apparently looking for more evidence of child porn. They found nothing.

"We fought so hard to come to this country," says Mercado, a 33-year-old who was a nurse in Peru and aspires to become licensed in the United States one day. "For this to happen is unbelievable."

Andrew Chatham, one of three lawyers working on behalf of Mercado and her boyfriend, says it is difficult to imagine a clearer case of over-reaching by police and prosecutors.

"Their theory, which is supported by nothing, is that these pictures were taken to satisfy the boyfriend's sexual desires. These aren't pictures that were peddled on the open market. This wasn't on someone's Web site. This is just a mother who took a roll of film and left it off at Eckerd's. The state used them to arrest her, indict her for a felony and take away her kids."

On November 13, the day Richardson police "tossed" or searched Mercado's house, a caseworker with the Dallas County Child Protective Services Unit of the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services took custody of the children and recommended to a family judge that they be placed in a foster home.

The caseworker's notes state that a supervisor, acting on the content of the photos alone, decided that

"the children needed to be removed from their mother's care."

Her hard-rubbed eyes drooping with worry, Mercado says she told the caseworker,

"Please don't take our children. We love our children."

In the months since, one of the couple's most onerous problems has been resolved.

In late March, a week after the Dallas Observer asked District Attorney Bill Hill about the case, he ordered the criminal charges against both parents dropped.

"It has some gray areas to it, but it doesn't rise to the level of a crime," Hill said.

He said justice comes from more than isolating facts and interpreting them in a way to make them narrowly fit into a criminal statute.

Still, at press time, child welfare authorities continue to maintain control of the boys, even though a lawyer appointed to represent them says he believes they should go home. In its latest legal filing, the state said it would not consent to releasing the boys until the couple jumps through more hoops, including a lie-detector test they must take at their own expense.

"They ripped out my heart," Mercado says. "Even if we get them back, I don't know how we'll recover from what's been done."

"How could they accuse me of doing something with our own children?" says Fernandez, a lanky 35-year-old who worked as a hospital technician in Peru before embarking on his disastrous start in Texas. "How can they accuse us of being something we're not?"

It wasn't difficult at all.

When Andrew Chatham first learned of the Mercado-Fernandez case from lawyer Steven Lafuente, who the family hired at the outset, he was certain there must be more to it than a picture of a mother with an infant's lips on her breast.

"I wondered what I wasn't getting," he says. "There had to be more."

There was not.

Police and child welfare files contain no criminal histories, no hint that there were other suspicions or evidence of child abuse or neglect.

Mercado and Fernandez had not been in the United States long enough to have histories of much of anything. She arrived in August 2001, moved in with her parents in Richardson and took a job cleaning a nearby Wal-Mart in the middle of the night. Johnny arrived about 13 months later and went to work cleaning stores, too, before moving on to a job in a budget steak house.

By the time Chatham became involved in the case, which his partner Bill Stovall took on without a fee, the parents were devastated and penniless.

"I think the police department and the DA's office select people to prosecute who have the least ability to defend themselves," says Chatham, who says he took the case on principle. "If these pictures were on their way back to some big home in Highland Park, they would have turned around and left. They were going after easy marks."

Mercado and Fernandez -- who were released on bonds of $ 10,000 and $ 12,500, respectively -- borrowed money from their family to get out of jail and drew comfort from the help and encouragement they received from their church.

Maybell Palacios, Mercado's aunt, says her niece is as dedicated a mother as she has ever seen.

"She'd be working seven days a week at nights, and when she'd come home tired she had time for her children. To feed them. Wash them. Do their clothes."

Victor Jaeger, pastor of the Iglesia Adventista del 7 Dia de Richardson, says,

"The community has been very supportive of them. They see it as a big misunderstanding."

About a third of his Spanish-speaking Seventh Day Adventist congregation in blue-collar East Richardson is Peruvian-born.

The pastor says he was prepared to testify on the couple's behalf and explain what appears to him to have been a cultural misunderstanding. Jaeger, who grew up in Peru, says breast-feeding is culturally important in his native country and considered acceptable to do in public, particularly in the country's jungle regions.

"My cousin sent me a picture of her newborn, and it was of the baby being breast-fed," he says. "As someone who has lived here for 20 years, I asked myself, 'Why did she send me that picture?' To her, it was nothing."

To memorialize the act of breast-feeding in a snapshot is as common in Peru as wanting to save a photo of a first step, or a first two-wheeler, or a first baseball game, he says.

Jaeger says Mercado and Fernandez, who both have roots in rural Peru, "sat in my office crying" on several occasions. He has come to the conclusion that they are good parents caught in an awful bind.

Their most pressing problem was the breast-feeding picture, which the indictment characterized as sexual,

"to wit; actual lewd exhibition of ... a portion of the female breast below the top of the areola, and the said defendant did and then employ, authorize and induce Rodrigo Fernandez, a child younger than 18 years of age, to engage in said sexual conduct and sexual performance."

In other words, says Chatham, the act of simulated breast-feeding, captured on film, was being portrayed as a sex act.

"They're saying the guy who took the picture is a sicko and wanted a photo of this to satisfy his sexual desire."

Through the ages, Chatham says, images of breast-feeding have been viewed more as art than deviancy.

"Look at this," he says, handing over a print of The Lucca Madonna, painted in 1436 by the Dutch master Jan van Eyck. The painting, depicting an enthroned Mary suckling the baby Jesus, hangs in the Stadelsches Kunstinstitut, an art museum in Frankfurt, Germany.

"My sister-in-law was an art major in college, and when I told her about this, she said, 'Andy, there are thousands of great works of art portraying the breast-feeding of children. They grace the halls of great art museums around the world. I could have used dozens of others.'"

Adds Stovall, his law partner,

"I was just up at Z Gallery last weekend, and there's a print of a woman breast-feeding."

The breast-feeding Madonnas no doubt were done with live models, Chatham says.

"You may think it's kooky, but through the ages this is how we've portrayed the bond between mother and child."

In late February, Chatham drafted a legal motion seeking dismissal of the indictments, using The Lucca Madonna as his star exhibit.

"The material at issue falls squarely within the ambit of the First Amendment's protection," Chatham wrote in his brief. "The portrayal of the suckling child is found in countless numbers of artwork. Whether the medium is canvas, marble or Kodak film is irrelevant for the purposes of First Amendment protection."

The motion was pending and being studied by an assistant prosecutor in late March when the Observer asked Bill Hill about the Mercado-Fernandez case.

"I'll look into it," he said. A week later, he said his assistant thought the case would "wash out of court" on The Lucca Madonna motion, so Hill says he ordered him to dismiss it.

"I looked at those pictures and there were some quirky things to them, and I can see where the grand jury had probable cause. But a woman has her breast exposed, and her child is there. I'm not sure that is a prosecutable offense," he says. He says his assistant agreed the case was "weak."

Hill did not fault the work of his assistants who presented the case to the grand jury, or the police who now are reportedly perturbed that their case was dumped. The charges and the couple's arrests were no doubt "traumatic," he says, "but in this instance the system worked."

Not if you are Rodrigo and Pablizio, who have not been returned to their mother yet.

Lieutenant Bill Walsh, head of the Dallas Police Department's youth and family crimes section, says calls from photo labs and computer repair shops are a useful tool in policing child sexual abuse and child pornography. His department makes several important cases a year after being alerted by technicians who stumble across the evidence.

"The law in Texas says all adults must report suspicion of child abuse, but it doesn't set out what the boundaries for that are," he says.

Once detectives review the pictures, Walsh says, it is usually a "no-brainer" which ones are the work of abusers and child pornographers and which are innocent pictures of bathing children and

"the cute one of the kid whose bathing suit fell off when he ran through the sprinkler."

Naked baby pictures and photos of toddlers' backsides are on display in work cubicles and office credenzas all over town.

"We don't see many sticky cases," Walsh says. "Child porn usually isn't subtle."

A photo of a mother breast-feeding, or a couple of smiling kids getting ready for a bath, or, separately, two nude consenting adults,

"aren't something we're going to be too concerned with," he says. "The most important thing is to look at the pictures in context. Under what circumstances were they taken."

To make a case against Mercado and Fernandez as parents, Richardson police and CPS investigators made no mention in their reports of any other photos on the four rolls, such as the ones of five kids at a birthday party. They focused only on the naked ones.

"It's like they took something from each one and twisted it to try to make a case," says Lafuente, who is handling the custody side of the couple's legal problems.

In his report to CPS, Richardson Detective John Wakefield wrote,

"I viewed the photographs and had concern of possible sexual abuse, inappropriate sexual behavior and possible child pornography from nine [of them]."

The four photos in which Mercado is seen with her forearm closely covering her chest, for instance, Wakefield described thusly:

"Mercado is in the photograph topless and touching her breast."

In two others he notes that the older boy was "touching his genital area." Mercado told Wakefield, and anyone else who cared, that the boy had a rash and was constantly scratching himself there. She produced a tube of prescription medication to prove he was being treated for the problem, police reports show.

Her explanations and defenses came long before she was forced to hire lawyers, and they have not changed since the day the Richardson officers knocked on her door.

Lafuente says the actions of CPS and criminal authorities tended to reinforce each other, to the family's detriment, as the case has gone along. Meanwhile, nobody was interested in Mercado's and Fernandez's explanations.

"I wanted Jacqueline to waive her Fifth Amendment right and testify before the grand jury. They didn't want to hear from her," he says.

CPS reports, meanwhile, make prominent mention of the fact that the couple had been indicted on felony charges.

Says Stovall:

"The very accusation in this case carries such a bad taste that they automatically assume the worst. I tell you they are charged with possession of child pornography, and you automatically envision the worst possible scenario."

Lafuente says he has been willing to concede that the photos show behavior that some people of a conservative nature might consider inappropriate, such as a mother bathing with her 4-year-old, or being topless around the kids. Yet those hardly rise to the level of sexual abuse. The family lives together in one room, making privacy difficult, but that does not mean Mercado and Fernandez are not loving parents, he says.

At a December 5 hearing on CPS's removal of the children, Lafuente reached a compromise with the state to put them in the temporary custody of Mercado's former husband, who also lives in the Dallas area. Mercado says that in the five months since, he has given her liberal visitation rights, but she and Fernandez cannot be left alone with the children, nor can the children sleep at the couple's house.

They also agreed to attend "group treatment for sexual issues" and submitted to extensive psychological exams.

At the group counseling, Mercado says, she has learned that kids in the United States are subject to the most horrendous abuse.

"Their parents are on drugs ... They're left with relatives who molest them. It's horrible."

None of it seems to apply to her and her boyfriend, she says, although they say they attend the sessions regularly and try to partake.

"It's about as useful as tits on a bull," sniffs Chatham.

In their psychological exams, which they made available for this report, the only problems the experts could discern in interviews with the parents were those heaped on them by CPS and the police. And those, too, seemed to be held against them in the less-than-empirical world of psychoanalysis.

"When asked about problems occurring in his life currently, Mr. Fernandez states that the children have been removed, there is little money for lawyers, and it's all a big injustice," wrote Robert Antonetti, a Dallas psychologist who interviewed the couple earlier this year. "He reported currently feeling anxious, angry at the injustice he is enduring and fearful of what may happen. When asked about coping with stress he said he's been praying a lot."

In his summary and recommendations, Antonetti mentions no evidence of sexual deviancy in either parent. Instead, he concludes that Fernandez

"feels very vulnerable to criticism and judgment."

The accusation that you're a sexual deviant who victimizes his own children might tend to do that.

The psychologist divines from his own psychological tests -- and no material evidence whatsoever -- that Fernandez appeared to be so "anxious to please" that he might be hiding something.

"The profile suggests the probability that he attempted to present himself in an improbably favorable light," Antonetti concludes.

Hence, the state-hired Antonetti recommended Fernandez be made to take a polygraph test before getting his son back. He recommended Mercado should be hooked up to one, too. He further recommended both should undergo parenting classes, individual counseling and couples counseling.

Two weeks ago, with a deadline looming for the state either to return the children or go back to court and ask to remove them permanently, Dallas Assistant District Attorney April Carter asked the judge in the case to require the parents to take the tests and attend the counseling before anyone goes home.

"There are concerns we need to address," says Carter, who is representing CPS in family court.

She says the store clerk, the Richardson police, the grand jury and others took issue with the photos and without further proof,

"it's not clear whether this was sexual or cultural."

She says she believes lie-detector tests would put that question to rest.

At press time, a hearing on that matter was pending. "We're going to fight it," says Lafuente, saying the state has dragged out the matter long enough and has had five months to ask courts to order tests or counseling. He says there might be a disagreement over appropriate parental behavior, but it isn't something that will be settled by psychologists or lie detectors.

Robert Herrera, who was appointed by the family court to represent the interests of the children alone, agrees.

"My feeling is at this point the children should be returned to their parents," he says. "I don't know how strongly CPS disagrees with that, but I think this should be resolved without any more trips to court."

If what she and her boyfriend did was wrong, Mercado says,

"I'm sorry. I didn't know these pictures were wrong ... I just want my children back. They belong with us."

Extended therapy for seeing a book

Mom: Son in 'extensive therapy' after viewing library book
Brian Hughes
Florida Freedom Newspapers & Daily news, July 05, 2010

A Japanese serial graphic novel genre popular with young teens has raised the ire of a Crestview mother whose teenage son got hold of an adult version of the genre from the Crestview Public Library. 
"Manga" depicts highly stylized adventure and, occasionally, violence in fantasy settings.
Margaret Barbaree, founder of a citizens' group called Protect Our Children, presented examples from a manga book to the Crestview City Council last week that she described as "graphic" and "shocking," taken from material she said is "available to children" at the Crestview Public Library.

"My son lost his mind when he found this," Barbaree said of the manga book from which her examples were taken.

She said her son had removed the book unsupervised from the library's general stacks last summer and put it in his backpack. She has kept it ever since.

"Now he's in a home for extensive therapy," she said.

Several months ago, Barbaree had circulated a petition bearing 226 signatures of citizens protesting the availability of manga, which she mistakenly referred to as "anime," or Japanese animation. However, the library said some patrons complained they were misled when they signed the petition.

"They told us she (Barbaree) approached them at the Christmas parade and asked them to sign a petition protesting pornography in the library," said Resource Librarian Sandra Dreaden.

[... ... ...] 
Baugh also confirmed that the book Barbaree's son had taken was in the general stacks well away from the children's and young adult books.
[... ...]
That book had been in the general stacks, on a top shelf in a section with other graphic novels and comic books not geared toward young readers.

"We have policies and procedures in place to prevent underage children from accessing those materials," Baugh said.

Do not touch any child

Teacher banned for touching Boy's arm
May 18,2009

A teacher with 50 years' experience has told of her devastation after being banned from her school over claims she assaulted a pupil. Thelma Hoskins, 67, said she simply put her hand on the nine-year-old boy's arm after telling him off in class for disrupting a lesson. A parent made a complaint and she was ordered to stay away from St Winefride's Catholic Primary School in Bradford, West Yorkshire. The school's head teacher, Maureen Cairns, has also been suspended by the Catholic Diocese of Leeds.

Teachers at the school are understood to have rallied round the pair.

One said: "They have done nothing wrong and have been treated disgracefully. Now you can't even tell off a child without getting into trouble."

Mrs Hoskins, who has taught at the school for two and half years, said: "I chastised a child who would not shut up. We had been doing some work and each group was showing what they were doing. I had him out in the front and told him: 'Do you know you are doing wrong? Shut up and listen'."

"Later a parent made a complaint to the head. Mrs Cairns and I spoke to the little boy together and he agreed that he had been disruptive and said sorry to Mrs Cairns. I went off on holiday for Easter assuming it was all done with."

"When I got back the deputy head told me the governors had asked me to stay away. It is terrible when you know you have done nothing wrong."

Bradford Council said:

"It would be inappropriate for us to comment until the investigation is concluded."

Music teachers advised not to touch children to avoid abuse claims
Music teachers are being told to have no physical contact with children during lessons to protect themselves from allegations of abuse.
David Harrison, The Sunday Telegraph, UK, 09 Nov 2008

The guidelines from the Musicians' Union have prompted an angry response from teachers who claim that some contact is essential, when showing a child how to hold an instrument or use a keyboard.

The union says its "no touching" advice was prompted by members' concerns at a growing number of "misunderstandings" that led to false allegations of child abuse and automatic suspension while the claims were investigated.

The Sunday Telegraph has learnt of one case where a cello teacher was told by a school's child protection officer to stop touching pupils when showing them how to hold the bow.

A source close to the teacher, who does not wish to be identified, said:

"She was shocked and very upset. She was told it was to protect herself from any misunderstanding and accusations of child abuse. It's unbelievable."

But a spokeswoman for the Musicians' Union, which last week held its first conference on child protection, said:

"A cello teacher should have a cello to show a pupil what to do. There should be no need to touch."

The guidelines issued to its 30,000 members, most of whom teach at some point in their careers, say:

"Instrumental teachers working with individual or small groups of pupils may find themselves in vulnerable situations where their professional conduct is questioned.

"Any physical contact with pupils can be potentially subject to misinterpretation or even malicious allegations. The best advice for instrumental teachers is to avoid physical contact with their pupils altogether."

The spokeswoman added:

"There are occasionally genuine cases of serious abuse and they are reported to the police. But most of the cases we deal with involve allegations made when children misunderstand the teacher's intent or when teachers use inappropriate language.

"Avoiding all physical contact may not be the best way to teach a musical instrument and will not stop a malicious allegation. But if there is no touching there will be no misunderstanding."

But many teachers feel the advice goes too far.

Diana Lyness, the headteacher at Kew College prep school in southwest London and a Royal College of Music graduate, said stopping all physical contact with children would hinder the musician's ability to teach effectively.

"It is vital that we take child protection issues seriously but it is going too far to suggest that there should be no physical contact at all," she said.

"It's bad for the child and bad for the teacher. Children need to have their fingers placed on a keyboard or a guitar to show them how to play."

Neil Watson, 55, who teaches double bass and guitar to under-11s, said:

"I cannot imagine teaching music without touching the child's hand. I have to touch children to put their hand in the right position for playing the instrument."

Mr Watson, a former double bass player with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra who is currently preparing to go on a UK tour with Katherine Jenkins, the Welsh mezzo-soprano, added:

"The stupidity of it is that you could spend a whole lesson telling children what to do with their hands but if you take hold of them you can show them in two seconds."

But the Musicians' Union is so concerned about the problem that it is running a series of workshops to prepare members for potential problems in what are usually one-on-one lessons with children.

Last week more than 100 members attended a two-day event, in
Peterborough, where they were taught how to avoid difficult situations and unfounded allegations.

They were also instructed in child protection laws and older, usually male, teachers were warned to avoid calling girl pupils "my darling" and "sweetheart".

Alice Lemon, the union's officer for the London region, said:

"We had one older teacher who used to take his small group of students for a drink of lemonade. He was advised to stop doing that for his own protection. Our members are worried because there are more and more cases of misunderstandings between teachers and pupils."

The unions says music teachers are particularly vulnerable because they are often self-employed, part-time or peripatetic and do not have the child protection training given to staff teachers.

All allegations of abuse are kept on record and show up when a prospective employer conducts a criminal records check.

Ms Lemon said the union dealt with about eight child abuse disciplinary cases in the London area each year and received at least one call every month from teachers asking for advice.

She added:

"We have teachers who ask their pupils: 'Do you mind if I put your fingers in position on the flute', or, 'Do you mind if I touch your hand?'

"Asking children can make them feel uncomfortable, although if you don't ask you could end up in more trouble. That's why our advice is no physical contact at all."

Rosie Brown, a child protection expert who took part in the conference, said a debate was needed about "safe touching". She said:

"If teachers feel that touching is absolutely necessary they have to find a way to do it safely. Kids need to know that not all touch is bad or sexual. We have to stop the false allegations."

Mick Brookes, spokesman for the National Association of Head Teachers, said:

"Teachers are vulnerable to unfounded accusations and are being treated as guilty until proven innocent.

"There has to be balance between protecting children and protecting the rights of teachers not to have their lives ruined by accusations which can be the result of a misunderstanding or malice. At the moment that balance is not right and there is a climate of mistrust."

Take a knife 

Knife vigilante woman spared jail for kill threat on 'paedophile'
The Sunderland Echo, 24 November 2008

A vigilante who armed herself with a large kitchen knife to attack an alleged paedophile has been spared jail.
Michelle Smith said she was going to kill the Sunderland man who she believed had been involved in a sexual offence against a child, and also his partner.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the potential victims of the knife attack were not at home and Smith was arrested when a neighbour contacted the police.

The 39-year-old told officers:

"I took a large knife with me. I was going to stick them both. He's not going to get away with it. I was going to kill both of them I had a lot of vodka to drink to give me courage."

Smith, of Patrick Crescent, South Hetton, admitted having an offensive weapon.

Defence barrister Julian Smith said Smith was drunk when the incident happened.

[The Crown Court convicted] Smith to a community order for two years with supervision.

Hysteria is dangerous

Did Pedophilia Hysteria Cause Child's Death?
Wendy McElroy, FoxNews, April 04, 2006

On Nov. 28, 2002, 2-year-old Abigail Rae died by drowning in a village pond in England. Her death is currently stirring debate because the ongoing inquest revealed an explosive fact. A man passing by was afraid to guide the lost child to safety because he feared being labeled "a pervert."

In the article "Day of the dad: paedophilia hysteria leaves men afraid to help," The Telegraph raises a question that applies equally to North America:

Have high profile cases of pedophilia created such public hysteria that the average decent human being, especially a man, is now reluctant to approach a child in need?

Consider what happened to Abby. The toddler wandered from her nursery school, Ready Teddy Go, through a door left open. A bricklayer named Clive Peachey drove past her in his truck. At the inquest, he stated,

"I kept thinking I should go back. The reason I didn't was because I thought people might think I was trying to abduct her."

Instead, he assured himself that the parents must be "driving around" and would find her.

A few minutes thereafter, Abby fatally fell into an algae-covered pond. Meanwhile, the nursery staff searched. When the mother noticed the staff near her home, she was told they were looking for a "lost dog" but the truth soon emerged. The frantic mother's
search ended when she leaped into the pond to fish out what she thought was Abby's shoe.

She stated,

"As I grabbed for the shoe, I missed and was shocked to touch what felt like a leg. I pulled the leg upwards."

The dead child emerged.

Abby's case may be extreme but it hinges on a question
that commonly confronts everyone who interacts with other people's children:

Is it possible to touch a child in a non-abusive manner without risking terrible repercussions?

Before moving to this question, however, it is necessary to consider a related issue that arises in almost every discussions of Abby. 

Is Clive Peachey legally or morally responsible for her death?

For several reasons, I argue that he is not. 

First and foremost, the responsibility lies with the nursery staff who became her guardians. Abby was in no immediate danger when Peachey saw her and he contacted the police upon later hearing a 'missing child' report.

Arguably, if he had phoned the police immediately, Abby would have been dead long before they arrived. Moreover, by coming forth, Peachey has accepted the damage to his life that comes with the public disgrace of saying "I drove past her."

Important information in judging Peachey is missing. For example, if Peachey has a family, he may have been reluctant to place his reputation or livelihood at risk. He may have balanced possible harm to his own children against helping a stranger's child.

Peachey's fears have precedence on this side of the Atlantic.

Last summer, an Illinois man lost an appeal on his conviction as a sex offender for grabbing the arm of a 14-year-old girl. She had stepped directly in front of his car, causing him to swerve in order to avoid hitting her.

The 28-year-old Fitzroy Barnaby jumped out his car, grabbed her arm and lectured her on how not to get killed. Nothing more occurred. Nevertheless, that one action made him guilty of "the unlawful restraint of a minor," which is a sexual offense in
Illinois. Both the jury and judge believed him.

Nevertheless, Barnaby went through years of legal proceedings that ended with his name on a sex offender registry, where his photograph and address are publicly available. He must report to authorities. His employment options are severely limited; he cannot live near schools or parks.

Arguably, the law would have punished Barnaby less had he hit the girl or not cared enough to lecture her. Perhaps that's the equation that ran through Peachey's mind.

Again, Barnaby is an extreme case. But ordinary people make decisions on how to interact with children based on such high profile stories.

The effect on average people in non-extreme situations can be partially gauged through a study conducted by Dr. Heather Piper at Manchester Metropolitan University: "The Problematics of 'Touching' Between Children and Professionals." Piper examined six case-study schools through interviews with teachers, parents and children regarding the propriety
of touch.

Commentator Josie Appleton reviewed the study,

"Reported cases include the teacher who avoided putting a plaster [bandaid] on a child's scraped leg; nursery staff calling a child's mother every time he needed to go to the toilet; a male gym teacher leaving a girl injured in the hall while he waited for a female colleague."

One school reportedly kept an account of every 'touching incident.' They stated,

"We write down a short account and date it and put which staff were present and at what time, we then explain it to the parent and ask them to read and sign it."

Appleton observed that this is more in keeping with "police logs than teaching children."

The last words encapsulate the problem. Touching a child, even to render medical assistance, has become a potential police matter.

Child abuse must be addressed but it is worse than folly to punish those who help children. Our society is creating Clive Peachey -- decent men who will walk away from a child in need.

Abby Rae died not only from drowning but also from bad
politics.

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