Nativity scrooges

Images of a young boy disappearing into the night with a dodgy looking snowman might send the wrong message to children.

Ray Crowley

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Topics Politics

The Tale of Scrooge and his three ghosts springs to mind, as the festive season struggles to get into full swing.

  • Christmas past

Turkey, paper chains, presents and nativity plays.

  • Christmas present

Not quite so sparkly. Edinburgh City Council has banned video recording and photography at nativity plays and Christmas shows in 156 schools in Edinburgh. Understandably, this has outraged many would-be proud parents. So why have they taken such unpopular action?

The threat of paedophilia. Following reports of paedophiles possessing images taken at school plays, the local authority has issued a crackdown on recording children enjoying their first tastes of fame, singing carols and wearing tea towels on their heads.

In a way, this may be a blessing for the children involved. These youngsters will never have to face the horror of being 16, sat on the sofa with the first boyfriend or girlfriend they have dared to bring home, only for mother to stagger into the front room weighed down by albums full of hideous shots of ‘Jake as an ass when he was three’ or ‘Young Sally as the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus upside down’.

Whatever next? Will we soon be reading that a council official has suggested a new anti-paedophilia take on the traditional Christmas play? There is much scope for new interpretations of Christmas carols, which could serve not only as entertainment, but also as warnings for youngsters. ‘Silent Fright’, ‘Away in a Stranger’s Car’ and ‘We wish you a Paedophile-Free Christmas’ would go down nicely with a couple of mince pies.

  • Christmas Future

Defence for Edinburgh’s video ban has come in the form of the city’s director of education Roy Jobson, who says: ‘When anything disastrous happens, the first question that is asked is, “Did the school do all in its power to protect the children?”’ (1)

Well if that’s the case, surely banning photos at school plays is only the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps all photos of children should be banned – let’s face it, lots of kids would be glad to do without the annual trauma of being dragged into the playground to stand on benches and grin like muppets for their class picture.

And if schools should do all they can to protect kids from dangers, no matter how unlikely, then remove all the climbing frames, swimming lessons, and trips to the local library, if they involve crossing the road. In fact, perhaps parents should be banned as well – after all, they are adults, and it only takes one of those to be a child abuser.

You can forget showing kids the popular Christmas cartoon The Snowman. The images of a young boy disappearing into the night with a dodgy looking snowman wearing nothing but a scarf and hat might send the wrong message to children.

Tinsel and fairly lights are out, because of the risk of strangulation. Presents also present a problem: you can’t have anything small enough to be swallowed, you can’t have anything big enough for the kids to get stuck inside, and you certainly can’t have anything hard enough to do damage when thrown by one child at another.

Of course, the children will lose out on lots of life experience and fun. But at least they’ll be safe.

A sensible parent was quoted in the Daily Telegraph this week, saying that ‘the issue of paedophilia is spiralling out of control. To censor films and photos would take away the magic and innocence of Christmas and children’s school plays’ (2).

In its concern about bah humbuggery, all Edinburgh city council has achieved is bah humbug.

(1) Nativity film ban defended, BBC News, 16 December 2002

(2) Outrage at ban on school play photos, Auslan Cramb, Daily Telegraph, 17 December 2002

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Topics Politics

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