Wednesday, August 02, 2006

He only wanted a header...

Simon Hattenstone has been getting self conscious about watching kids having a kick about in the park and admonished by his young daughter for asking them for a header.

Generating this kind of anxiety and suspicion out of innocent behaviour is something our society specialises in and it is dangerously corrosive and destabilising. A few years back I was in a playground with my children. I spotted one of the older kids in the park pulling one of the smaller ones off the top of what was a very tall ladder from the little fellah's perspective. He could have got quite a bump if he hadn't managed to hang on. I told the bigger kid to stop, whereupon he ran off wailing "MUUUM THAT MAN TOLD ME OFF." Within seconds I was being screamed at by the mother. Well it was at least easy to see from whence her son had derived his bullying tendencies.

Fear and anxiety begets fear and anxiety and associated fearful and aggressive behaviour. The more we whip up disproportionate fear and hysteria about relatively small but spectacularly and understandably emotive risks related to everything from child protection to terrorist attacks, the more we undermine the basis of a healthy society.

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