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April 6, 2010

More UK Fun with Kids

I was reading this week's This is True newsletter, and happened upon this story that once again really pissed me off. Once again, the UK government, or some weird local policy, is getting in the way of people living their life like normal human beings.

This time, it's not quite as cut and dried as usual, but they're still being idiots.

It seems that helping a child down from a tree on school property is now a crime.

Kim Barrett was passing a local school in Melksham, Wiltshire when she spotted a boy up in a tall tree.

"Kim Barrett claimed she coaxed the boy down from the tree as she was worried about his safety, and took him back to the school building.

However, the council said the boy was being "observed" by teachers who had been instructed not to intervene in case the child became distracted and fell."
The kid had apparently climbed the tree during recess and wouldn't come down.  School policy is to leave the kid up there and watch him, rather than do anything else to help him.  This is an asinine policy anyway.  They leave him all alone up there to get frightened, which may make him more likely to fall.  They observe him from a distance, so they're not in any position to possibly catch him if he falls.  They don't try to help him in any other way.  What if he suddenly decides he wants to come down, but needs help?  Is he supposed to start crying?  What the hell?
So Barrett sees the kid, and thinks that he's in trouble.  Nobody's around to help him, so she decides to help him.  The kid had been up there for 45 minutes already.
"The boy “was all on his own and not only was he at least 6ft off the ground, but someone taller than me could easily have reached in from the pavement and plucked him off the branch," she added."
Instead of thanking her, they reported her to the police for trespassing, and she was visited by a "police community support officer" as well.
The school has the trespassing policy in place because it feels, and rightly so, that unsupervised adults should not be roaming school grounds while kids are around.  You never know who might be watching them and waiting to snatch a kid.
However, the "tree policy" is just stupid, and the only reason Barrett trespassed was because she thought the kid needed help.  Surely they could have just told her about their policy, thanked her for her good intentions, and let her be on her way.  There was no need to report her to the police.  Would they have done the same if there had truly been an emergency and a kid really did need help, and no teachers were watching?
It boggles the mind.
In the Telegraph story linked to above, there is some differences in the stories of the two parties, so this case definitely isn't as cut and dried as usual.  The school claims that the boy had climbed down on his own and was on the sidewalk when Barrett approached him.  It would be nice to know what really happened.
I mainly wanted to comment on this tree policy, as it is absurd.  If they're that worried about it, maybe they could block off the trees so kids can't get to them to climb in the first place.  Once again, we're making our kids Bubble Boys in order to protect them from the normal hazards of childhood (as opposed to the abnormal ones that they should be protected from, like predators and the like).  It's sad that the litigious society we live in probably makes this a requirement, because you know the family would sue if he did fall.
I'd also love to know how long they were planning on leaving him up there.  And would they classify him as truant if he stayed up there all day?
Let me know what you think.

Update #1 (4/7/10): This story even made it into the April 12th issue of Maclean's magazine!  Where they come up with something else to the story.  Evidently, they say, Barrett said there were no school officials watching this kid and that they were surprised when she brought the kid in.  Right now, this is only in the print issue, don't know if it will make it onto the web site.


  1. the school probably dont know that the child cant come down by himself, so maybe they'll planning to see how long the child could survive up in the tree untill he cry for help.. just the thought tho'.. lols..

  2. A survival test? Actually, I kind of like that. LOL

  3. yeah.. the educational these day is tough, they train the children to face the world.. lols..

  4. Hey Dave, I finally got all my subscriptions moved over to my new reader, so I'm following you again. Sorry about going missing suddenly. But now that I have my new website up and running, I'm looking forward to reading people's blogs again, and yes. That means yours.

    -Duane Scott

  5. Thanks Duane! Now following you as well.


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