I’ve been involved in other things for a few days so missed the row Philip Pullman has kicked off over writers needing police checks to go into schools (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/jul/10/authors-vet-school-visits). So when, while driving home, I heard him stoke it up on the radio today (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8153251.stm) I almost crashed the car laughing.
The thing is, while I can’t speak to the situation in UK schools, I do know how badly such checks fail in Manx schools, and also have a fair idea why.
Take a child evangelist posing as an ‘author’ who’s been reading his work in some of them, for example.
Over a decade ago a clergyman (and close friend of this so-called author) was witnessed behaving inappropriately towards a young, non-English speaking girl at a charity event in a Manx school and his behaviour reported to police. An interpreter offered her services to help, but the police and the charity involved were strangely unconcerned and the girl was unable to tell her story locally. In fact, very quickly afterwards she and other potential victims of the scuzzbag were rushed off-island and home.
Nothing, so I was assured at the time, to do with the personal friendship of a senior police officer with the perpetrator of the attack, or other links between the Department of Home Affairs and the charity. They were just trying to prevent a ‘misunderstanding’ brewing up into a major incident which might hurt the island or the ‘well-meaning’ clergyman.
A year later the clerical kiddie fiddler was successfully prosecuted anyway for an unrelated offence, despite intimidation of witnesses by evangelical thugs which meant other rumoured incidents never got to court. One curious thing is that a vulnerable relative of his was amongst those ‘persuaded’ not to give testimony, and that at the time she was trying to gain employment with an evangelical outfit which, then and now, sends unwanted missionaries into Manx schools. Even more of a coincidence, that outfit was then being run locally by the guy now pimping his Jesus stories to tiny kids.
I should say the author doesn’t seem to share his fellow godbotherer’s interest in abusing kids – at least not sexually. Still, it does suggest that our kids might be in more danger from the hypocrites responsible for such checks than from decent writers who just want to awaken an interest in literature.
2 years ago