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Knee-jerk reaction to Jimmy Savile is no way to fix it
12:00am Tuesday 23rd October 2012 in opinion feed
As the sordid and sleazy secrets of Jimmy Savile continue to seep out and inquiries into the organisations he used and abused are set up, I just hope that the fallout doesn’t result in yet more regulation that abnormalises the relationship between adults and children.
That’s not to trivialise the dreadful ordeals suffered by his many victims, some of whom live in Sussex, or the culpability of those accused of turning a blind eye within those organisations, including the BBC, the NHS, children’s homes and Broadmoor secure hospital.
Inquiries into how this man was able to get away with so much for so long are essential and it is a very real possibility that when they reach their conclusions and their findings are acted upon, there will be a kneejerk reaction resulting in hurried, ill thought-out legislation that further restricts adult interaction with children.
But Savile was a one-off (as far as we know) who used a unique technique to disguise his devilish desires. His charity work masked his true nature, and while some fans are still lauding the millions he made for good causes such as the disabilities unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, it’s pretty obvious that he had sussed out early on that charity work would provide him with the perfect cover. It lent him a saint-like public persona that would gain him access to the kind of vulnerable youngsters he craved. It was a convenient means to an end. And I bet that when he set out on that path he could never have dreamed that institutions such as hospitals would unquestioningly hand those youngsters to him on a plate.
His charity work did not come out of the goodness of his heart. It was entirely the opposite, in fact.
But while the ashes of Savile’s long-term deception do need to be raked over, the vast majority of his crimes happened in the days before such laws as the Children Acts of 1989 and 2004, and the Human Rights Act 1998, and before there was greater public awareness of child abuse.
The laws are now in place to protect children in hospitals, in schools, at the BBC, and even in children’s homes, where more recently they should have been able to protect those vulnerable young girls in care abused by gangs of men. But it was the people supposedly caring for them who failed to put the law into practice.
When you add together the Children Act (the one that prevents parents taking photographs of their own children in public places and teachers cuddling a hurt child at school), parental fear of stranger danger and the isolated hours children are spending in front of their computers, children and adults are becoming increasingly alienated. We need to bring children and adults closer, not tear them further apart.
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