Unbelievably, tens of thousands of children, as young as 12, are still being subjected to the “undignified” practice of strip searches, despite reassurances from the Youth Justice Board.
Results from an FOI request found that there had been 43,000 recorded incidents of children being strip searched in young offender institutions, secure children’s homes and secure training centers in the 21 months up to December 2012, with only 275 searches finding “illicit” items. When items were found, the most common was tobacco and on no occasions were discoveries of drugs or knives recorded; hardly life or death situations. In 99.4% of searches nothing was found.
The humiliating and intrusive practice should only be used in a limited amount of serious cases against adults, never mind children. The regulation of these intrusive and disproportionate powers is far too weak and urgently needs to be properly addressed. Why are so many searches being conducted and yet so few finding anything? Is this yet another area where powers are being used frequently without suspicion?
Today’s Daily Mail carries a suitably sensational story courtesy of the Government’s new advisor on childhood.
According to the piece, “Claire Perry said that in a world where youngsters are surrounded by online dangers, parents should challenge the ‘bizarre’ idea that their children have the right to keep their messages private.” In other words (as the paper’s headline suggests) if you’re a parent, you should “Snoop on your child’s texts”.
We’re not entirely sure how a Conservative MP and a newspaper usually committed to reducing state interference in our lives are able to square away issuing parenting diktats, but more concerning is the total lack of any evidence to support these claims.
Last month we detailed how one of the key statistics being relied upon by campaigners calling for ‘default blocking’ of some internet content was based upon one very dubious survey in a single school.
This kind of deliberately misleading scaremongering undermines the discussion about how best to protect children, and now it’s clear that commercial pressures are also leading to dodgy stats being pushed into the debate.
This week, the Advertising Standards Authority has rebuked Carphone Warehouse for it’s marketing of a service we’ve previously been very critical of, Bemilo. The service hit the headlines for it’s feature that allowed parents to read the text messages of children, prompted by our warning that parenting is not spying.