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Are we over-protecting children?

In association with IoI Parents Forum

7:00pm, Tuesday 24 March 2009, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road campus, Kingston-upon-Thames, KT1 2EE

Following the Baby P tragedy, child protection is in the spotlight again. As politicians and pundits suggest myriad new procedures to prevent future deaths, is society in danger of becoming over-obsessed with child safety, when in truth such terrible events are rare? The widespread vetting of adults who work with children was designed to weed out paedophiles, but has resulted in many volunteers resigning rather than undergo demeaning criminal records checks. In a climate of mistrust, childcare workers and teachers think twice before comforting a child with a hug, or putting a plaster on a grazed knee. Meanwhile, parental concern about their offspring’s safety means children rarely play unsupervised outdoors. Are over-protective paranoid adults unintentionally restricting children’s social and psychological development, and creating a nation of cotton-wool kids? Is risk aversion damaging children, or should children’s safety trump all other concerns?


Christopher Cloke, Head of Child Protection and Diversity at the NSPCC
Hugh Thornbery, Strategic Director of Children’s Services, Action for Children
Dr Helene Guldberg, author, Reclaiming Childhood – freedom and play in an age of fear; lecturer in developmental psychology with the Open University and the US study abroad centres, CAPA and IES
Dr Ken McLaughlin, lecturer in social work at Manchester Metropolitan University; author, Social Work, Politics and Society: from radicalism to orthodoxy

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