The worry that a child may make an untrue allegation (especially of a sexual nature) against a member-of-staff can often be rife in children’s homes. There is a slight risk and the consequences of it happening would be potentially devastating to the individual concerned. However, I have always considered the anxiety about it to be wildly disproportionate.
In reality it happens very rarely and the chances of someone actually losing their job or being prosecuted if it did happen are even slimmer. Otherwise we would hear endless stories about children’s home staff being charged with sex offences – and we do not.
Nevertheless, concerns that it may happen can lead to a paranoid type of care which is cold and detached. This, in itself, can actually be abusive, as the (fortunately now banned) practice of “no touch” policies indicates. Personally I have never worried about it – I am not a child abuser and I refuse to look after children in a way which almost implies I might be.
However, today I took Rolly and Sarah swimming and Sarah was wearing a new swimming costume. This had been bought for her by her keyworker because Sarah had said she felt self-conscious in her old one. The new costume has a lower cut leg (I am the last person who could name the exact style).
I very nearly told Sarah how nice she looked in it (because she did) but then I remembered reading in the paper this week that Rolf Harris was asked this question by the prosecution in his trial:
“Do you accept that when a man tells a woman or a girl that they look lovely in a bikini, they are not actually admiring the clothing, but they are admiring the person’s body?”
So I kept my mouth shut. Shame I think…