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July 19, 2009


Independent, UK - A group of respected British children's authors and illustrators will stop visiting schools from the start of the next academic year, in protest at a new government scheme that requires them to register on a database in case they pose a danger to children. Philip Pullman, Anne Fine, Anthony Horowitz, Michael Morpurgo and Quentin Blake all told The Independent that they object to having their names on the database – which is intended to protect children from pedophiles – and would not be visiting any schools as a consequence.

Pullman, author of the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, described the Home Office policy as "corrosive and poisonous to every kind of healthy social interaction". He said: "I've been going into schools as an author for 20 years, and on no occasion have I ever been alone with a child. The idea that I have become more of a threat and I need to be vetted is both ludicrous and insulting. Children have never been in any danger from visiting authors or illustrators, and the idea that they should be is preposterous. This reinforces the culture of suspicion, fear and mistrust that underlies a great deal of present-day society. It teaches children that they should regard every adult as a potential murderer or rapist."

All individuals who work with children from 12 October will be required to register with a national database for a fee of L64. The former Children's Laureate Anne Fine, the author of more than 50 books, said the scheme was "governmental idiocy" which would drive a wedge between children and adults.

"When it [the VBS] becomes essential, I shall continue to work only in foreign schools, where sanity prevails," she said. "The whole idea of vetting an adult who visits many schools, but each only for a day, and then always in the presence of other adults, is deeply offensive.". . .

Quentin Blake, who rose to fame as Roald Dahl's illustrator and became the first ever Children's Laureate in 1999, said the Government was guilty of "grotesque misunderstanding" about what happens on school visits, and that he would refuse to pay the registration fee if he was asked. . .


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's just ban all contact between children and adults. We can fix this problem in one generation; permanently.

July 20, 2009 11:38 AM  

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