As a female I kind of have a problem different from what this article discusses. People, both Christian and Non, assume that all women love, love, looove babies and kids!! I do not. I try to avoid kids, but people are forever thrusting babies at me to hold, making me endure shoebox fulls of kiddie snaps, or assuming that I’d want to volunteer at a church nursery, whenever I bother to show up at a church.
A few highlights from the article:
Male, Presumed Dangerous
“The stereotype is that men are predators who are looking for opportunities to abuse young children,” says d’Arcy, who is co-ordinator of a Mullumbimby preschool and has six children of his own. “There seems to be that automatic assumption.”
Most of the 2900 men who make their living caring for under-fives butt up against these assumptions regularly in a way that their 100,000-plus female counterparts do not, he says.
“It’s a very common story,” d’Arcy says.
Most paedophiles are relatives or trusted family friends but, as more perpetrators are caught awareness grows and, with it, a fear that can become out of proportion to the danger.
A Newcastle University lecturer on family issues, Richard Fletcher, knows of a school principal who wanted to cancel a program allowing grandfathers to run playground activities for children when one of the men had too much to drink, spooking the staff.
An underlying attitude that ”men are dangerous and we can’t manage them” also grips staff on some maternity and neonatal wards, where fathers ask to sleep near their partners and newborns, says Fletcher.
Anecdotally, in at least one Sydney babysitting co-operative, parents made it clear that they did not want a father to turn up alone to care for their children.
Predator fear has been woven into numerous airline policies. Virgin Australia’s was revealed when a flight attendant asked firefighter Johnny McGirr to move away from two young boys, saying it was policy that men should not sit with unaccompanied minors. McGirr said he felt stripped of respect.
Nurse Daniel McCluskie said he felt he had a sign above his head that said ”child molester” after he was shifted from his seat on a flight from Wagga Wagga to Sydney because of Qantas policy. He must pass annual checks on his suitability to work with children, but the policy apparently does not take that into account.
When the Herald asked Qantas about the origins of its policy, the company re-issued a statement saying its policy was consistent with those of other airlines around the world, is designed to minimise risk and that it reflects parents’ concerns and the need to maximise children’s safety.
Virgin Australia, which introduced its policy seven years ago, has now employed an organisational psychologist to conduct a review. It will include, in quaint Virgin-speak, ”researching guest feedback”.
”I understand why airlines have policies, but there is a more subtle way to enforce them than to march up to a guy and make him feel like a paedophile when he just sits in a seat,” says crime novelist Michael Robotham.
As the father of three daughters aged 12, 15 and 18, he blames the 24-hour news cycle for the heightened perception that males are inherently dangerous to children.
”Only a month ago, I had a pool party for my 12-year-old’s birthday. She had all her girlfriends there. There were 11- and 12-year-old girls jumping around the pool in bikinis. I wanted to take photographs, but in the back of my mind I was thinking: Can I take photographs?”
He no longer pulls out the camera at the beach: “I feel I should be able to but I think society is saying I can’t.”