Making parental emotional abuse a crime

Justin Wiley has written a good piece about emotional abuse at the New Observer. He includes the following pertinent example:

“This author worked as a volunteer for his local authority to mentor a young man with “learning difficulties”. The boy attended a special school for young people with disabilities where he was soaked in advice about “child protection”. The result; he wanted me to take him swimming every week. And every week he would accuse me of being a “paedophile”. (Because he’d been told that adult men who take boys to swimming pools are paedophiles). The “Safeguarding” culture generates numerous conflicts like this. In its eagerness to police all relations it trips over itself and generates contradictory currents in the discourse.”

This shows how the safeguarding culture is eroding ordinary relations between adults and children – both relations of caring, and relations of discipline and authority. When all adults are seen as abusers, this becomes one of the weapons canny children will use to get their own way.

Others have emailed me to say that their attempts to discipline children in their neighbourhood led to accusations of being a ‘paedophile’. In one case, the man was told by the local council to collect evidence of young people’s bad behaviour by taking photos; which he did, only to be challenged by the child’s father and accused of perverted motivations. Any disciplinary intervention stands to be challenged in this way.

When children are brought up with such disrespect for adults and authority, what kinds of citizens are they likely to become?