Egos could give paedos place to hide

THE reaction of several high-profile authors to new laws which will require them to be vetted to work with youngsters is peculiar. Philip Pullman, author of fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, and former children s laureates Anne Fine and Michael Morpurgo

THE reaction of several high-profile authors to new laws which will require them to be vetted to work with youngsters is peculiar.

Philip Pullman, author of fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, and former children's laureates Anne Fine and Michael Morpurgo have all said they will boycott schools unless the rules are revoked.

In October, the Vetting and Barring Scheme will be rolled out and in November 2010 it will be compulsory for anyone who has contact with children or vulnerable adults at least once a month to sign up to it.

The scheme will incorporate Criminal Records Bureau checks and will replace other checks.


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The measure was drafted in response to recommendations made by the inquiry into the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002, by college caretaker Ian Huntley.

Pullman is balking at the idea of paying a government agency �64 - the cost of the check - for a certificate stating he is not a paedophile.

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But all people who work with children should be vetted. This way perverts and paedophiles will have nowhere to hide.

Paying �64 to help blow their cover is surely a small price to pay. Money should never be put before the welfare of children.

Fine has branded the rules "deeply offensive", but her sensibility is maddening. Responsible adults should have no issue with being vetted. In fact, vigorous safeguards to protect vulnerable people in our society should be applauded.

Fine has also said the new rules will leave children "further impoverished", and has vowed to only visit foreign schools in future.

But it is her pig-headed reaction to the rules, and the stubbornness of others like her, which will ultimately deprive children, not the rules themselves.

School visitors are placed in a position of trust and, while they may well be supervised at all times while on the premises, there is every chance a pupil will bump into them in the street.

For decades, children have been taught that 'stranger means danger', but, bring a stranger into the classroom to give a talk or a demonstration and they are no longer unfamiliar.

In fact, they are usually held as someone to be admired, respected and trusted. It is imperative to ensure there are checks in place to ensure they are worthy of such status.

If I had children and I knew an outsider was visiting their school to give a talk, and they had not been checked, I would seriously consider keeping them off school for the day. I feel I would be wholly justified in doing so.

Ultimately, child safety should be the priority here.

However hard they protest, those adults nursing their egos at the thought of being vetted should be wholly ignored. After all, they should know better.

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