Tuesday, September 19, 2006


And an even crazier police force that ignores real crime but is always ready to investigate complaints of political incorrectness

The architect of laws protecting child sports stars yesterday criticised abuse zealots after police investigated Cherie Blair's playful slap of a cheeky teenager. Celia Brackenridge, an international athlete turned academic, said that children's sporting chances were being spoiled because some were now being over-protected. "Having been one of the major advocates for a long, long time, we have got to the point where I am saying `whoah, slow down a bit' because it has got out of hand in some areas," Professor Brackenridge said. She fears that Britain's Olympic chances could be harmed by volunteers being driven from youth sport over fears of being accused of attacking or molesting children.

She spoke after six detectives were called in to investigate an incident where Mrs Blair aimed a friendly slap towards the arm of a 17-year-old boy who made rabbit ears behind her head. Professor Brackenridge's pioneering study of sexual exploitation of young athletes led to the creation in 2001 of the Child Protection in Sport Unit, run by the NSPCC with Sports Councils. The unit provided welfare services at the UK School Games in Glasgow, visited by the Prime Minister's wife earlier this month.

Miles Gandolfi, captain of the England under-17 epee fencing team, put his fingers behind Mrs Blair's head while a photograph was taken. Film shows her aiming a harmless slap at his arm and calling him a "cheeky boy" before the pair descended into giggles. After organisers consulted the unit, Strathclyde Police were asked to investigate. Miles was escorted to a side room and spent half an hour giving a statement to detectives. The police have now said no incident had taken place and the matter was closed.

Sport's burgeoning child-protection culture was already under fire from veterans such as Roy Case, chairman of the English golf union's boys' selection committee. He has said volunteers were being discouraged by guidelines saying that winning competitors should not be hugged, nor should children be driven home alone by adults.

Professor Brackenridge, the former Great Britain lacrosse captain based at Brunel University, told The Times: "People say, `We are not going to run our junior club' or `Nobody will drive the bus'. Some people given a child-protection role have become a bit officious."

Esther Rantzen, founder of Childline, sympathised with Mrs Blair but recalled: "There certainly have been well-documented cases where sporting coaches have been discovered to have been abusing children." Steve Boocock, the director of the Child Protection in Sport Unit, said: "Parents are generally very supportive." Miles, from Chelsfield, Kent, said yesterday. "I had no idea why the police wanted to speak to me. I thought it was a joke."



Authoritarian medicine in Britain

Women may be prevented from having twins through IVF treatment because so many are being born that they are swamping intensive-care units. Would-be mothers will be allowed to have only one embryo implanted at a time, under proposals drawn up by a group of leading doctors. The change could reduce women's chances of having a successful pregnancy but the group says the move is needed to halt the sharp rise in IVF twins, who are blocking neonatal intensive-care beds.

At present women are allowed to have two embryos implanted to increase their chances of success, but this has contributed to a near doubling in twin births to 9,500 a year since the late 1970s. Mothers of twins are six times more likely to suffer from pre-eclampsia - high blood pressure during pregnancy - and three times more likely to die in childbirth. Twins are four times more likely to die within 28 days of birth and five times more likely to have cerebral palsy than single babies.

Professor Peter Braude, who chairs the expert group for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), said twins were "a complication, not a bonus. "The public does not realise that twins are a health risk. The need to tackle the problem is unequivocal. Neonatal units are stretched to the extent that you cannot always get your baby into one. "If you deliver your baby in London, you find the baby is being shipped off to Northampton. We need to separate mother and baby or one twin from another. If we could lower the multiple pregnancy rate, we would have more cots available. It is stopping other babies getting into neonatal units."

His group is expected to recommend that only one embryo is implanted at a time in women under 35, while remaining embryos are to be frozen for transplanting if the first attempt at pregnancy fails. Those having IVF privately would also be affected because the HFEA licenses all clinics, not just those on the National Health Service. About 30,000 couples have IVF each year. The group is expected to say that, for NHS patients, the state should fund the implantation of another frozen embryo if the first attempt fails.


1 comment:

Rivrdog said...

...and the moral difference between this program and the Communist China program of aborting female fetuses would be....?