Politicians absolutely love to come out with laws saying that they're "protecting the children"
as it plays well during election time. The problem, though, is that many of these laws do exactly the opposite. What they end up doing is actually preventing
children from actually being able to learn necessary skills and how to deal with situations they will almost certainly face later in life. Yes, children can be much more vulnerable, but the answer isn't to hide them away from everything, but to teach them how to better deal with situations they may face. However, that tends not to be politically popular -- which is why it's that much more surprising to hear of a new report, requested by the UK Prime Minister pointing out just how problematic the rush to "protect the children" can be
. As Slashdot points out, the key line from the exec summary is worth repeating:
"Children and young people need to be empowered to keep themselves safe -- this isn't just about a top-down approach. Children will be children -- pushing boundaries and taking risks. At a public swimming pool we have gates, put up signs, have lifeguards and shallow ends, but we also teach children how to swim."
This reminds me, too, of a line used
last year by famed judge (and IP expert, to boot) Richard Posner in striking down an anti-video game law:
"Violence has always been and remains a central interest of humankind and a recurrent, even obsessive theme of culture both high and low ... It engages the interest of children from an early age, as anyone familiar with the classic fairy tales collected by Grimm, Andersen, and Perrault are aware. To shield children right up to the age of 18 from exposure to violent descriptions and images would not only be quixotic, but deforming; it would leave them unequipped to cope with the world as we know it."
If only more people would recognize such things.