We must put a stop to this tyranny of the high-visibility jacket

Our streets are no less safe than they were 50 years ago

Share

Primary schoolchildren of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your dayglo shame. On the Underground, you see them, and dawdling round the corridors of museums, innocent little children, dressed up in neon bibs like the cone-stackers on motorways at midnight. 

What is the reason for this? I grew up in the distant reaches of Zone 6, and with what now must be viewed with untold recklessness, we would travel – non luminescently – to as faraway places as the London Planetarium and somehow, miracle of miracles, successfully navigate re-entry to Upminster without a single one of us ending up chained to the wall in a dungeon basement somewhere.

The numbers on crime committed against children by strangers in public places are so infinitesimally small as to be statistically unanalysable, which means that the nation’s streets are no more dangerous for our small people than they were 50 years ago, decades before the first luminous stitch of cloth was ever sewn. All that’s changed is our attitude.

Maybe it is yet another manifestation of this curious new dawn in which the older generation appears to be in thrall to the younger one, and not the other way round, as it should be. Where a 17-year-old kid who’s not bad at sailing is lighting the Olympic flame instead of Muhammad Ali; a world in which the stricken aeroplane pilot in Lord of the Flies, had he survived, would be consigned to running about after Ralph and Piggy. When you start to feel inspired by the potential of children, that’s when you’ve given up on your dreams.

Perhaps it is merely for teachers’ convenience. Imagine the fear of doing a headcount on the coach and finding yourself one down (although, in fact, the more terrifying reality, as I once found out chaperoning summer-schooling Americans round London, is ending up with one too many, especially if that one is a Korean from a Learn English Abroad Camp at which he’s evidently not top of the class).

But if that is the case, it’s too high a price to pay. What must the little ones think, as they incline their necks to stare at the hooked incisors of giant flesh-eating dinosaurs, all the while convinced that there has never been a more frightening time to be alive than now? That the Natural History Museum is so perilous a place that unless their refulgent personage is permanently burned on the back of Miss Mullis’s retinas they will simply vanish?

So parents, if you have a say in such matters, perhaps you could request that next time your prized possession goes to stare at the artefacts of ancient Egypt or some such, is there any chance they could in fact not be forcibly kitted out as though they were off to mainline Calpol at an Eighties warehouse rave? You never know: they may still return to tell the tale.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee