How useful to find a few randy old billies to hand
So Alan Johnson is to go to prison. I know nothing about this particular case so we can only believe that Johnson is as guilty and the girl as innocent as the jury say they are. Yet is something out of proportion when a man texting a girl saying he’d like to take her jeans off is the headline news on television? Do we make too much fuss about it? I was sexually abused myself as a child and I know from my own experience that it wasn’t the abuse itself that really did the damage, unwelcome as that was, but the fuss the adults made about it. Paedophilia has always gone on although of course it has now entered a new phase with the advent of the internet. But just why are we now so disturbed by it? After all, the number of children who are actually abused is miniscule while getting on half the nation’s children are obese (well maybe not half but some grossly swollen fraction). Do the tabloids go after the manufacturers of fizzy drinks as they go after paedophiles? They do not.
From a situation where abused children were regularly not believed we have swung to the opposite extreme, as society always does, now taking it for granted that the children are always entirely innocent and the abusing adults vicious predators. Of course, the adults must always bear a weight of responsibility that the children should never do. But there have been many cases in which a scheming child has seduced a gullible adult. Every teacher has come across girls, and sometimes boys, already smoking with sex like incense in a thurible, who expertly target their sometimes unwary mentors.
The truth is that it has become extremely difficult to rear children today, a situation made all the worse because it is rarely the parents’ fault. Wages being low and mortgages high, both parents often have to work absurdly long hours to pay the bills. Children have escaped into the internet and it is next door to impossible to check what they are seeing and who they are contacting all the time. Nobody wants the days of public birchings and the huge thrashings that used to be meted out, especially in public schools (though how we sported our stripes as if they were badges of honour awarded for valour in war). But have we now swung to the opposite extreme in the matter of physical punishment? What is a parent expected to do when the child utters a swearword or answers back? Present a rational argument to the child based on Freud and the latest ruling from the European Court of Human Rights? These days the children will probably be better versed in their legal rights than the parents.
Above all we are failing our children over climate change, and most especially failing are those bodies whose duty it is to inform and lead the public, the churches (though Pope Francis is an exception bless him) the newspapers ands the politicians, the very people who are now most lamenting sexual child abuse. The evidence is now overwhelming. If we don’t get rid of fossil fuels a.s.a.p. our children will face lives terrible beyond imagining. But are we especially bothered about that? We are not. But is this a secret knowledge we are repressing, and doing what people always do when they repress guilt into the unconscious, projecting it outwards? We need scapegoats to bear the burden of our own failings. How convenient to find a few randy old billies to hand.