Thursday, 3 July 2008

Is common sense dead?

Full Story:

Sometimes there are stories that seem to sum up the complete retreat of common sense and there are several today guaranteed to make the most mild-mannered of us gnash our teeth in frustration. The first concerns the Army veteran who was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping after carrying out a citizen's arrest when young hooligans attacked his home. Frank McCourt, 57, was kept waiting on the phone for 45 minutes by police after reporting vandalism against his property and eventually carried out a citizen’s arrest on one of the yobs. You can guess what happened next. The youngster’s mother arrived and did not apologise or remonstrate with her son for misbehaving but complained about the child’s abduction, whereupon Mr McCourt was arrested and charged. The case against him was dropped shortly before he was due in court, but only after he and his wife were put through weeks of unnecessary anxiety. The second story revealed how school field trips are being cancelled because of litigation fears. Geography and nature trips which many of us recall with affection and gave us a life-long (if largely useless) knowledge of limestone pavements and how to identify a scarlet pimpernel will be a thing of the past. Add to that the gradual reduction in the number of children taking part in exchange visits abroad because of new rules about checking the bona fides of host families and you begin seriously to wonder if the world (or just this corner of it) has gone mad. Children are growing up defiant of authority because any adult who is not a parent or teacher seeking to exert it faces either a police investigation or is considered a potential kidnapper or sex offender. They are regimented, dragooned and chaperoned to the point where they are frightened of their own shadows. They are missing out on the joys of childhood because there is no longer an acceptance of any risk.

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