Who’s Afraid Of The Big, Bad Wolf?

It’s because of fear. A threat perceived blown out of proportion so that it becomes a rampaging beast and in effect loses the reason we’re afraid of it in the first place. A real threat gets so exaggerated that we begin not to see it as a threat anymore. And that’s the real danger of fear.

Remember a time when kids had nothing to fear except getting home late and shouted at by their parents? Remember that time when you could leave your front door unlocked through the day and people wouldn’t come in and attempt to rape and murder you? Remember the time when teens on the street didn’t mean trouble? No, I don’t remember them either because I grew up in a time when we’re constantly being told to be afraid of things. Don’t go near water because you’ll drown. Don’t talk to strangers because they all want to kidnap, sexually abuse and kill you. Don’t sunbathe because you’ll get cancer. Hell, I could fill three or four posts with the things that have been announced as causing cancer in my lifetime, but I wont.

I’ve been thinking recently about fear versus reality and I’ve come to some interesting conclusions. Talking to some elderly folks I always hear about how things were better in their day and how children were safer on the street. Personally I think that’s a pile of crap. Things weren’t better in those days; information was just a more limited commodity. We didn’t have the internet back then and twenty four hour news channels continually beaming the horror of our existence into our living rooms. When people say things were better back then they actually mean that you didn’t hear about it as much. Kids being snatched off the streets weren’t newsworthy because the police didn’t have the technology to prove they were snatched and chalked half of them up as runaways. For similar reasons most bad things that were equally prevalent back in the “good old days” as they are now just weren’t heard of. The world hasn’t really gotten worse, but we’ve now got more tools to see it’s sickness.

Another point I thought about is that we’re being controlled by fear of things that probably wont happen to us in our lifetime, but what happens when fear of those things gets out of control? Take poor Betty Robinson (the woman in the photo accompanying this post). She’s an 82 year old widow and has taken up amateur photography to fill her autumn years. One day recently, while taking photos of Southampton Common near her home she found the children’s outdoor paddling pool with no children in it and decided it would be a good photo to take. Suddenly she’s accosted by a council worker who demands that she stop taking photographs of the empty pool. When she asked why she was told that it’s because she could be a paedophile. Don’t worry, you read that right. Now taking photos of an empty pool is enough to brand you with that stigma. Betty did eventually get an apology from Southampton City Council (only after approaching the newspapers with her story) but they maintain that their workers must know who is taking photographs for public safety.

What I want to know is how taking photographs of an empty paddling pool in any way endangers kids? How can it be construed as the actions of a paedophile? Well we’re back to that old problem again – Fear. Fear has taken over from common sense here, as it’s starting to do in many other places and situations. Fear has placed a paedophile around every corner ready to tempt your kids into a van with promises of sweets and puppies. Parents are afraid to kiss or hug their children in public in case they get labelled as child molesters. The old tradition of baby photos in the bath can get a parent arrested now. If a child is lost in the street and can’t find his/her parents then you’d be better off leaving them to their fate than taking them to the police station (Something I had to deal with not long ago. Luckily there were two of us so Kim stayed with the kid while I went to grab a copper).

Fear has distanced us from our children and put the threat of paedophiles everywhere, and in some ways that is a good thing until you hear stories like the one about Betty. Things like that make you realise how stupid the fear is. It becomes the wolf that Peter kept crying about – a dangerous threat but nothing to really worry about as it’s not real. Too much fear of something makes people lose their wariness over that thing as they see it as something created by fear rather than the actual threat itself. Just take a look at America and their actions against terrorists. The threat isn’t thought about half as much as the ridiculous measures being taken to guard against that threat. And that’s the way the world is going with child abuse now.

My final thought on this subject is about the council worker who stopped Mrs Robinson from taking those photographs. Where does he stop in his duty to protect the public from perceived threats. Obviously he’s got the guts to stand up against someone he thinks may be a paedophile about to make off with a kinky photograph of an empty paddling pool especially when she’s an 82 year old woman, but would he so readily stand up to someone my size or larger trying to deal drugs to the children? Would he stop someone being stabbed on the common in an attempted mugging? I’d put money on the answer to both those questions being “No” for one simple reason. You know it and I know it. You even read it at the beginning so say it with me…

It’s because of fear.

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21 thoughts on “Who’s Afraid Of The Big, Bad Wolf?

  1. You're forgetting that the "good old days" often talk of childhood spent in wartime, where the men were off fighting and the women working hard, everyone brought together by a sense of needed peace and unity under crisis. Personally yes, I think paedophiles have always been around, but I do think that the number of these sick freaks have increased, and they're not as subtle about things as they used to be, either. As for this poor woman, well, you know my sentiment…

  2. Great post Mik. I agree that things may not have been better in the so called good old days. Child abuse, wife abuse, alcoholic's were not reported in the media.

  3. True, the war did seemingly bring people together. But during that time many people were illegally buying food on the black market, having affairs with the wives of soldiers or stealing and most of those were forgotten in the relief that followed the war. Many murders and acts of vandalism remained undiscovered because of the damage done by air raids.

  4. I know that the paedophiles have been along for a long time, but they have better options getting in touch with each other now than they had before the internet got into every home. I think that fact made some of them come out of the closet.The story about the 82 year old lady is in best case absurd. I am glad she got an apology at the end – and I hope it makes the council worker think twice next time.

  5. Then there's the role of media, demanding that "something must be done" and politicians being too weak to say "this was a freak occurrence, and any law we pass would be a grossly disproportionate response". No man can work with kids now without being the object of nasty rumours.It's not just fear, though. It's not fear that means that if you tell a kid off now for something (littering, vandalism, whatever), their parents will crucify you rather than their little oik.

  6. Being branded a paedophile for taking a picture of an empty pool? That is simply ridiculous. :irked:It makes me realise how difficult things would be for Tilla if other countries were to overreact like this. A jumped-up council worker telling her she can't take pictures because of how someone might interpret it. It doesn't bear thinking about. :no:

  7. It is the same thing when Aids first came out, the "fear" people had and may-be still do, about how you can get it. The way people acted back than out of fear made me mad. Schools treating kids that had it bad. 😦

  8. That poor woman..Not long ago a grandmother was accused of molesting her grandkids because she bathed them..Don't know how far that case got.Dear really is a funny thing as I tend to shy away from children if someone else isn't present..Hey you never know when some git decides I'm a child molester and reports me as such.. In todays terms your guilty untill proven otherwise.. Even then the stories continue and blown out of proportion..

  9. Saw a so called comedy programme once where a quiet guy wont buy a pack of smokes for a bunch of seven year old boys so they started following him and screaming that he's a paedo and hanging round his flat doing that. It kinda made me angry because I can see kids doing that these days.

  10. On the upside – today's kids won't have to face the humiliation that lies in pictures of themselves naked as a child, shown to their signficant others by their parents :up:.

  11. Increasing or information "overload" (if u will) of nasty things happening in the world especially to children will terrify any parent (responsible ones) naturally.Sometimes it's good to have that fear even though I think yr opinion on this has it's own grounded point. At least some precautions are being taken and should something bad happen anyway, at least it's not the parent's fault for negligence.And I surprised u with this intellect side of me, huh? Well, I had rather fearful parents. :lol:Now, I will go back to being the me u know best… Anyone seen Mik's underwear lately? 😆

  12. Insight is always welcomed Esther, as long as no-one takes life too seriously all the time.My point here is that these fears (which are perfectly natural) are being blown out of proportion to the point that people stop fearing them an appropriate amount. The fear usually gets larger and larger until finally it becomes thought of as a myth and starts to decline to nothingness, exposing kids to a very real danger that they no longer see as being as bad and widespread as it is.

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