I was listening to good old Jeremy Vine as always today on my way to pick up Léon from nursery. The topic up for discussion was the paedophile hysteria that some parents seem to have when it comes to people photographing their kids. Now I don't mean child pornography - just simple parents in a group of other parents taking a photo of their kids playing football together for their school or whatever. More and more schools and the likes have banned parents from photographing their own child because, if they happen to catch another child, God forbid say their kid's best friend in the shot, then that child is somehow in danger. I am a parent and a photographer so I feel qualified to comment. If Marcel's pal's mum wants a photo of them playing football together not only would I not try to have her arrested, I would positively encourage her because that is the stuff childhood memories are made of. Anyone banning this isn´t protecting their child from abuse from a stranger, on the contrary, they are the ones harming their child - they are depriving that child of pleasant evenings 30 years from now mulling over an old pile of school photos with his own kids saying - I remember that day when we won at football, I remember that kid - he was a great mate etc. That is tantamount to child abuse in my book. Most cases of paedophilia sadly happen in the home, they are kids being attacked by family members, not strangers, and whether or not someone´s parent takes or doesn´t take a photo of you dressed in a football strip and covered in mud isn´t going to make any difference at all to your safety. So get a grip and stop ruining our kids' lives with this nonsense.
As a footnote, I have to tell you about the last call from Jeremy´s show - it was astounding. After many calls from irate parents who had had their cameras confiscated for photographing their kid playing football or performing in a school play, the last bloke to ring in had the best story. Peter someone, I think from down south. He had a 5 year old granddaughter who had just started ballet classes. She asked her old Gramps to come along to her dancing display. The kid´s mum and old Gramps turned up and were about to take their seats when the dancing teacher came in. She politely asked the mum who the old man was. She replied: my father in law - you know little Rachel's grandad. The teacher replied - we don´t have permission from the other parents to let someone who is not a parent watch the other little girls in their tutus, so I´m afraid you´ll have to stand behind a screen and simply listen to but not watch the little girls dance. How do you listen to a ballet display?? Now this man didn´t even have a camera - he wasn´t even allowed to watch little Rachel's classmates - so what was achieved there? Yes of course - sobbing, heartbroken little Rachel because Grandad was sent out, hurt and victimized Grandad behind a screen, and a class of parents and little girls who would more than likely not have given a damn whether or not little Rachel´s Grandad could see their tutus. This is an outrage. If this had been 30 years ago - my grandfather could have watched and photographed me and maybe today (on what would have been his 86th birthday) I would have looked back fondly on that photo and remembered childhood, ballet (not that I was much of a ballet dancer myself) and my old Gramps. What a sad, sad place we are making this world - and completely UNNECESSARILY.
Oh and finally I hope you like the photo above of Marcel playing football with his schoolfriends: Robert, Gordon, Duncan and Cameron, while being watched by his other friends Eleanor and Sarah!