Risk of child-adult mistrust from protection ‘industry’

An Irish church head has warned of the risk of a generation of children being deprived of normal interaction with adults because of a protection “industry”.

Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Richard Clarke expressed his concerns during his church’s general synod, the Irish Times reported.

While emphasising the necessity for strong child protection measures, he spoke of unwanted consequences.

“It is almost abusing children in a different way to deprive them of normal interaction [with adults],” he said.

“The first thing is, we have got to protect children.

“We know what dreadful things happened when we do not protect children, so that’s a given,” he said.

Children know about the “dangers” of adults and adults are “often scared” that children might “misunderstand” normal interaction, he added.

However, children had learned “almost as their default position” to “mistrust every adult”.

The archbishop said it may be “safer”, but “is it necessarily something that will create healthy relationship between those of different generations?”

He called for ways to ensure children’s safety while dealing with unwanted consequences.

“Is there any way in which we can mitigate what are the unintended consequences of us holding children at arm’s length, metaphorically?” Archbishop Clarke asked.


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