I found Eamonn Duff's story Age of innocence lost forever as trust clouded by paranoia dreadfully sad. As I have said before, it fits with my own experiences in bringing up girls in a primary child care role. I was yelled at only once, accused of being a paedophile - it was a primary school break-up and all the kids wanted to be swung around. That was a nasty experience, but it reflected shifting attitudes, including sometimes subtle discrimination against men looking after children.
I don't think that we can do anything about it. It just is, an example of the way that social pressures in combination with shifts in the law work in practice. Sometimes you have to accept that, accept the losses involved.
Has any of this made children safer? In some cases, maybe yes. As I write, the number of charges against Father F, someone I know, has been increased. Without commenting on his guilt or innocence, the type of systemic abuse revealed by some past cases is, I think, less likely to happen or more likely to be found out.
Do I think that my children would be any safer were they born today than in the second half of the eighties? Do I think that those social attitudes portrayed in Eammon Duff's story, that the experiences of Leo and granddaughter Emma, of Newcastle dentist Andreas Schwander, of Uncle Lachlan in the Coffs Harbour supermarket, would make my children safer?
Just the opposite, in fact. In a society marked by certain types of paranoia, children actually become less safe. They can be hurt by the very social attitudes and laws designed to protect them. In NSW, mandatory reporting of certain types of suspected offences against children brought the entire child welfare system to the point of collapse. Those who suffered were the kids, as well as the staff who had to try to operate the system.
As I said, I don't think that we can do anything about it. We can fight against certain restrictions, but others we have to accept. It would be a brave person, especially a man. who would argue for a wind-back in child protection legislation, a braver person who would challenge or fight back against the social moral mafia.