Can we really protect children?
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock in Narnia you’ve probably heard about historic child sex abuse claims plaguing football clubs up and down the country. When I heard about the first claim I’m ashamed to say I rolled my eyes and thought to myself ‘here we go again’. Not to say that I didn’t believe the allegation or that I didn’t have the utmost admiration for the claimant standing up to the most despicable crime, I was just so disappointed that it’s not over. I thought by now everyone was trying to protect children.
I work in a primary school, over and over again I do the training for safeguarding children. It has made me possibly the most paranoid mother on the planet, and looking at the latest headlines rightly so. I hate posting pictures of my son on social media. I have my own set of guidelines which I think would deter potential wrongful distribution of his image. Only now am I starting to realise that nothing can.
‘It’s made me the most paranoid mother on the planet’
These evils in society are so deeply woven that we don’t learn about them until years after the crimes were committed. Not so long ago, the idea of a sex offender was a guy in a flasher mac stood at the side of the playground offering you sweeties. Or some paedo in his underpants watching his dirty movies on a laptop. We’re learning that these rings are indefinite. In order to exist in the past or the present the need to be vast and efficient.
How are we still surprised that in such a huge organisation, that is let’s face it aimed at attracting young boys (I do acknowledge the rise of women’s football but it’s still shockingly under promoted) has had so many claims of sexual assault? The laws of probability already rule that at some point this was going to happen. It’s all kinds of wrong but in all honesty what do we expect any organisation to do about it? How can you stop that one bad egg from getting in?
‘CRB check!’ (I know it’s DBS now), well unless they’re really crap at paedoing I don’t think it makes a difference. You could do a DBS check one day walk down the street and get arrested the next. It wouldn’t show because the check’s already done. My point being the these creatures don’t want to be caught, like a sniper on the hill they are experienced and they are well camouflaged.
It’s about being aware
I’m not scare mongering, that’s really not my intent. I just wonder what else we can expect people to do, or what more can we do to protect children? We can watch what they do online. Sit by the side of the pitch. Rob them of their independence entirely but will it solve the problem? I’ve read that parents are planning to take their kids out of football clubs. By that logic, children will spend their entire lives in their homes with their guardians. Surely that’s not going to benefit anybody.
Clubs have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for children and adults, but we also have a responsibility. We need to make sure that children know how to talk to us about anything, they need to be able to tell us if they feel uncomfortable around someone and why.