Friday, July 24, 2009

Parents banned from school event to protect pupils from kidnappers and paedophiles.

Slightly off topic, but welcome to the hysteria and zero tolerance policies that infest our schools. Parents couldn't attend the annual sports day, because a fear of paedophiles?

The comment from Paul Blunt suggests that all the parents, when unsupervised, would become unsavory characters, and that they can't be left unsupervised around children.

Really, this isn't so off topic. The first line of the article says it all. By banning parents, the school is banning kidnappers and paedophiles. Parents were upset, and rightfully so.

My one and only question to the administration that came up with this ridiculous idea: How many times have children been kidnapped or been the target of paedophiles at this event in the past? I suspect we all know the answer. But, hey, why let facts get in the way of good old fashioned hysteria. Especially when the hysteria isn't really directed at "parents" but at "fathers."

School overreacts to no known threat.

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.

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, who did not wish to be named, said: 'They said they just could not estimate how many parents were going to be there, and were worried that they couldn't stop someone who shouldn't be there from being there. But I think it's just health and safety gone mad.'

Mother-of-three Emma Collett, 33, of Biggleswade, has a child at St Andrew's Lower School in the town.

She 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.

'An unsavoury character could have come in and we just can't put the children in the event or the students at the host school at risk like that.

'The ultimate fear is that a child is hurt or abducted, and we must take all measures possible to prevent that.'

Mr Blunt confirmed he had received a complaint from an irate mother but defended his decision.

He added: 'None of the children taking part attend the host school so it would've been really hard to police.

'We did a risk assessment and concluded that we couldn't guarantee the children's safety.

'The number of children involved meant it would have been hard to ensure people were who they claimed to be.'

Local councillor Anita Lewis also backed the decision, saying: 'The safety of the children is paramount.

'It was decided that following a risk assessment we could not adequately supervise up to 100 plus adults on the school site.'

However, 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.'