But no laughing matter.
The Government has pledged that all 16 to 18 year olds will complete 50 hours of community work as part of its move to raise the school leaving age.
In the speech announcing the plan, which will be a Labour manifesto pledge, Gordon Brown specifically mentioned that teenagers would make a difference by “helping in an old people’s home or tutoring younger pupils”.
But under the Government’s strict new vetting regime, anyone over the age of 16 working with children or vulnerable adults will have to start registering with the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) from November next year. …
So the teenagers will have to be checked.
Also surely the elderly or vulnerable will have to be checked too, because they will be in contact with these teenagers.
The vetting scheme was initially designed to protect children against abuse. More than 11 million people are expected to be vetted by 2015. Checks cost £64 but are free to volunteers.
The scheme is only supposed to apply to those who work with children or vulnerable adults on a frequent or intensive basis but many organisations take a “better safe then sorry approach”.
Critics have condemned the application of vetting to an ever-growing number of law-abiding helpers.
Parents who ferry children to football matches, adults who sit in with their youngsters at Sunday school and parents who occasionally help out at Scouts have all fallen victim to the zealous imposition of the checks.
Mounting opposition has led Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, to announce a review of the rules. Sir Roger Singleton, the chair of the ISA, will attempt to clarify who will be covered by the scheme. He will report next month.
A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said: “We have asked Sir Roger to advise on this issue as part of his check on who should have to register with the vetting and barring scheme.”
But why on earth wasn’t it made clear already? Critics of the scheme since its inception, even if they broadly supported it in principle, predicted there would be such consequences. I wrote over a year ago that,
Parents are not being allowed into Christmas discos. A large proportion of adults are being put off volunteer work – with consequences for children (e.g. 50,000 girls excluded from joining Girl Guides because of a shortage of adult leaders). Adults are put off from reassuring children.
It’s harming civil society. Did our beloved leaders include these consequences in their cost-benefit analysis of the scheme?
Oh, now I read that (hat-tip Andrew Watson),
Parents who want to accompany their children to Christmas carol services and other festive activities are being officially vetted for criminal records in case they are paedophiles. …
Among those affected are parents at a village primary school who have been told they must be vetted before they can accompany pupils on a 10-minute walk to a morning carol service at the local church.
Other primaries have instituted vetting for parents attending Christmas discos on school premises. Some schools require checks on parents who volunteer to walk with children from the school to post letters to Father Christmas.
Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at Kent University and the author of a report on paranoia over child protection, said: “Once you institutionalise mistrust, you incite people to take these things further and further, finding new areas to implement criminal record checks.
“It becomes a badge of responsibility and a symbolic ritual. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense.”
Incidentally, from the first article I linked to above,
Some charities have criticised the plan and have said that its mandatory nature goes against the spirit of volunteering.
Er yes, because volunteering for something means you freely choose to do it. By definition, you can’t be compelled to volunteer. Jebus, it’s like ‘presumed consent’ for organ donation.