Leading article: Brought to book?

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Every sensible person will agree that there ought to be vetting of those employed to work with, or in close proximity to, children. But while vetting is sensible for teachers and caretakers it is madness to extend this to every individual who enters a school. Popular children's authors, including Phillip Pullman and Anne Fine, are perfectly justified in objecting to the demands of the new "Independent Safeguarding Authority" which would require them to be vetted (at a cost of £64 each) before being allowed to read their books to pupils in schools. A toxic combination of bureaucratic stupidity and popular hysteria over paedophilia has brought us to this absurdity.

This new vetting system was intended to increase the protection of children. But we need to recognise that there is more than one way to harm a child. And as Mr Pullman argues, it is also a betrayal to encourage young people believe that "the default position of one human being to another is predatory rather than kindness".

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