Letters: Protecting children

Attempts to protect children that defy common sense

Share
Related Topics

Sir: I run a residential school study centre and had exactly the same experience that Dominic Lawson describes (Opinion, 27 June). A boy of nine could not get his suncream on the back of his neck. The nearby teachers did nothing to help so I put it on for him. When this was done I asked the teachers, "I suppose you wouldn't dare do that?" They confirmed my supposition, even though this was in the open with lots of children and staff around. Daft.

Of more concern is what I was told by friends who were keen to go into fostering. Having successfully reared five children of their own, and with plenty of spare rooms, they offered their home to a few children with serious problems. However, they were told that there was no question of being able to cuddle these children, even very young ones who might have fallen over and hurt themselves.

There are obvious limits to what is appropriate, depending to some extent on age and sex. However, if you have jumped through the hoops that fostering agencies demand, does there not then have to be some common sense? It strikes me as positively harmful to the wellbeing of an infant if they cannot be given physical comfort when in distress.

Richard Welch

Nantglyn, Denbighshire

Sir: Dominic Lawson told only half the story: one police check isn't always sufficient. My experience last year may be typical.

I offered myself for two separate, voluntary, charitable works, helping with a children's play scheme and as a hospital escort. Surprisingly, I needed two police checks within a month. Previously having worked as a foster mother for eight years, which required at least three police checks, the expense that I have incurred must be enormous.

I visited my MP to point out this problem, but got the usual response – I'll pass your complaint to the relevant office.

Barbara Smith

Chester

No simple answers to loss of liberty

Sir: Reluctant as I am to criticise a woman who went through a terrible ordeal, Jill Saward's attack on David Davis simply doesn't stand up (report, 27 June).

Mr Davis has lambasted the abuse of DNA and CCTV and how council snoopers and government ministers have conspired to use these tools as a way of allowing the state to take away our privacy and freedoms.

Her suggestion that everyone should be on the DNA database looks like a desire for simplistic solutions to major problems, and she is quite prepared for people to give up their privacy for the greater good. This is exactly why David Davis has resigned, as it is exactly the same attitude of contempt for civil liberties that New Labour has displayed ever since it got into power.

Stephen Lustig

London NW2

Sir: May I say how pleased I am to note that Jill Saward is contesting the Haltemprice and Howden by-election for the "liberty to walk the streets of our towns and cities without fear of violence". At last a candidate in that election is fighting for real liberty, not the liberty of a pseudo-liberal middle class to scaremonger about the alleged surveillance society.

John Roger Tardif

Nottingham

Sir: Hopefully, David Davis's heroic support of Magna Carta may have prompted people to read it. They will realise that the concessions made by King John to the barons only apply to "free" men. Given that most of the population were serfs, this didn't do much for our cherished liberties.

And Magna Carta did allow people to be held without trial:

41) All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water . . . free from all illegal exactions . . . . This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our Chief Justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too.

I look forward to the headline "Gordon Brown defends Magna Carta".

Harry Spooner

Manchester

Diploma will fill skills gaps

Sir: The CBI seems confused on the Diploma ("Scrap diplomas and go back to the drawing board, urges CBI", 23 June). We, like thousands of employers across the country, have volunteered our time to support the development of the qualification because we see it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to break down the pernicious and damaging divide between academic and vocational educational routes, and to build employability skills into the curriculum.

We support the Diploma because it has been developed with employers, and will involve employers at the heart of its delivery, to better prepare young people for work. The Diploma will help fill skills gaps across industry including in science and languages. It's good news for young people and good news for UK plc in a fast-changing world.

Sir Alan Jones,Toyota

Elton Boocock, Urban Media

Will Butler-Adams, Brompton Bicycle Ltd

Tony Cohen, Nsure Group Plc

Chrissie Dunn, chair of the Manufacturing Diploma Development Partnership

Simon Hogg, Scanlaser Ltd

Andy Puttock, BT

Douglas Oakervee, Crossrail

Steve Roberts, Fripp Design

Mike Stapleton, Compass Group Plc

Gary Thompson, C2M (UK) Ltd

Stephen Tilsley, Metsec Plc

Diploma Employer Champions Network, London WC1

A country dying of climate change

Sir: Johann Hari ("The cruel sea", 20 June) draws attention to a global injustice – Bangladesh and its people living with and dying from climate change. This is a wake-up call to all of us about the consequences of the developed world's dependency on fossil fuels.

In this most vulnerable country, climate change and its effects are not some future eventuality. They impact on people and livelihoods now. On average floods inundate 20.5 per cent of the country and can reach as high as 70 per cent during extreme conditions. One of the poorest countries in the world cannot be held responsible for the CO2 emissions that are the cause of the disastrous climate-change impacts. Bangladesh accounts for only 0.3 per cent of the world's carbon emissions.

During a visit to Bangladesh in 2004, we witnessed another consequence of climate change – flash floods from increased melt in the Himalayas which engulfed the rice crop in the Sunamganj district only a week or two before the harvest. During a boat journey to assess the impact on schools and families in the town of Sulla, it appeared that fishermen were hard at work – it turned out that they were salvaging their rice crop from beneath the floodwater. The "rotten rice" harvest provided only about 20 per cent of the potential yield.

If climate change is not addressed urgently, there will be environmental migration on a massive scale, or do we wish to be accused of "climatic genocide"? The developed world needs to help Bangladesh mitigate the impacts of climate change as well as find appropriate adaptation techniques. But more fundamentally, can we find ways to compensate the people of Bangladesh for the damage we have already caused?

Professor Stephen Martin

Maureen Martin

South Littleton, Worcestershire

Finest hour for our greengrocery shop

Sir: Several correspondents have commented on traders who trust customers to help themselves.

My parents had a greengrocery and general shop at St Leonards-on-Sea. In 1940, with the fall of France and the fear of invasion, much of the population of Hastings and St Leonards was evacuated, including the assistants in the shop and most of the customers. My mother had to find a job elsewhere and my father managed the shop on his own. I had just left school and in the mornings served such few customers who came in, while my father delivered to the rest. In the afternoons hardly anyone came.

The weather was sunny that summer, and behind the shop there was a cliff giving us a grandstand view of the Battle of Britain, so my father and I generally spent our afternoons there, reading between aerial dogfights. We never shut the shop, and would occasionally return to find a small pile of coins on the counter with a note of what they were for. There was never any evidence that anything had been taken without payment, nor of anyone raiding the till.

Phyllis Nye

Bournemouth

Cutting sale of drink to young people

Sir: Philip Hensher's attack on supermarkets is the type of simplistic response criticised in the leading article of the same edition (17 June). He claims that the bar trade is watched closely while the off-trade, including supermarkets, is not. This is untrue. Both the on- and off-trade participate in the same Challenge 21 campaign that has dramatically reduced sales of alcohol to young people. Research shows that young people think they will not succeed in buying alcohol from supermarkets, contrary to Hensher's claims.

Hensher's proposed ban may increase the pubs' nightly take but he gives no answer as to how it will change the culture around drink. He ignores the fact that consumption is actually decreasing. Instead of passing new laws on drinking, we could see some additional progress by the police and licensing authorities using the powers we have.

Jeremy Beadles

Chief Executive, Wine and Spirit Trade Association, London EC4

British criticism of Mugabe is useless

Sir: Criticism of Mugabe from Britain plays into his hands, allowing him to call us "neo-colonialists" and making it harder for other African leaders to condemn him. Archbishop Tutu, Nelson Mandela and the President of Zambia have spoken out, opening the way for other African leaders to follow.

The crisis in Kenya was not defused by pronouncements from Downing Street, but by another African, Kofi Annan. Having lived and worked in six African countries south of the Sahara from 1953, I have two words of advice for British politicans: shut up.

W R Haines

Shrewsbury

Sir: The description of Robert Mugabe as "the only president Zimbabwe has known" (report, 30 June) suggests amnesia in your writers on that sad country. The first president of Zimbabwe was Canaan Banana (1980 – 1987).

David Walker

Sittingbourne, Kent

NHS: ask patients what they think

Sir: The Conservative policy of abandoning NHS process targets and focusing on outcomes (report, 24 June) is to be welcomed for national policy. Locally, smaller numbers may limit the validity of this approach.

A humane health service should deliver high-quality clinical outcomes in a way that is sympathetic and convenient to patients. Evaluation by patients would be an appropriate local complement to a national emphasis on clinical outcomes.

The simple expedient of asking patients what they think would be a refreshing alternative to monitoring what a focus group thinks they should think.

Professor C J Hawkey

Nottingham

Dismay at finding Mussolini souvenirs

Sir: I read with concern your article on the neo-fascist influence of the Italian Northern League's Interior Minister in Berlusconi's new government (27 June).

A few weeks ago, I was in the small town of Bellagio on Lake Como (Northern League territory) and visited some stalls in the town's square. To my dismay, there was one stall almost exclusively devoted to Mussolini memorabilia; medallions, photographs, images on tiles etc – and people were buying these things!

Admittedly, Mussolini was not quite the monster that Hitler was, but a stall like this in Germany or Austria would have the owners in court before you could say "Sieg Heil!" It is a worry that the government of a fellow member state of the EU depends upon people like this for its authority.

Rolf Clayton

London NW7

Force for no good

Sir: Violence can solve problems (Letters, 26 June) but only for a very short time. Violence begets violence. War begets war. As a species, we must start to take the long view.

W Watts

Sale, Cheshire

TA soldiers

Sir: With the recent deaths of three TA soldiers, it has been brought home to us just how valuable are the reservists in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, there is an important difference. On their return home, TA soldiers disperse all over the country and go back to their civilian jobs. They don't have, as regular soldiers do, the support and comfort of others around them who have also served.

Pauline Rowles

Rugby, Warwickshire

Church leadership

Sir: But what is leadership, Mr Owen? (Letters, 28 June.) I am grateful that in Rowan Williams we have an archbishop who does not go in for headline-grabbing, glib and simplistic statements pretending to be "revealed knowledge". He allows the Church of England to continue to value church tradition and God-given reason alongside scripture as it has since the 16th century. It is that mix the conservatives seem to be trying to destroy.

CANON KEITH HUGO

Poole, Dorset

US 'activity' in Iran

Sir: Anne Penketh (30 June) reports on US attempts to topple the regime in Iran. Forgive me for asking, but isn't there a word for "covert activities" including the "authorisation of lethal force" with the aim of "trying to undermine the government" of a sovereign state? Isn't that word "terrorism"? Just because these activities are carried out by the US does not mean The Independent should not call a spade a spade.

David Sketchley

Seville, Spain

Men who do dishes

Sir: Men do wash up all the time (letters, 30 June) but prefer to do it without the use of rubber. To ensure that I don't get wash-day hands, I prefer to use the liquid that leaves my hands as soft as my face.

Granville Stout

Leigh, Lancashire

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Geography Teacher

£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

Do you want to work in Education?

£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Arts Editor: The Great Character Actors of Football

David Lister
 

What I saw on the night my husband was hit by a car

Rebecca Armstrong
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit