I find this story disturbing on so many levels. A known pedophile is deported back to New Zealand. His modus operandus is to approach kids in streets, carrying a kitten. In his last place of abode, police found a soundproof cell in the backyard. He watches kids with binoculars. Of late, he has been hanging around schools.
Police have warned schools and parents in the area.
On the one hand, this man has committed no crime in New Zealand. So now, in effect, he will be stigmatised in the community where he lives, punished for a crime he has not committed, and may never commit.
On the other, this is not exactly a safe person. I know that as a parent, of primary school age children, I would be deeply alarmed. You bet I would be talking to my children about not approaching strangers, and walking them, or driving them to and from school. Mollycoddlying them, in fact.
One of the consequences of that will be criticism for being risk-averse, for wrapping my children in cottonwool. We are constantly told that children these days have no freedom to explore, to be unsupervised, to learn to look after themselves.
From a parent’s point of view, supervising children, walking to school with them, not allowing them to roam around the neighbourhood, reducing risk, is all about seatbelts. To be sure, the chance of a child being attacked, assaulted, raped by a pedophile is very low. But the consequences, if it does happen, are exceedingly bad. So metaphorically, we get the kids to wear seatbelts.
I have, only once, in 42 years, been involved in a car accident. I have never, ever, been in an accident when I have been driving a car, in 25 years of driving (aside from dents in carparks). But I always, always, wear a seatbelt, and I always, always, ensure that my children, and other passengers in the car, wear seatbelts. No one criticises me for that, even though it seems that the risk of an accident is exceedingly small. In fact, transport police and road safety campaigns urge me to belt up.
Why then, do I get criticised for not allowing my children to walk home by themselves? Especially if there is a known pedophile in the area.