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AaronTheMagician
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Quote:
On 2007-01-16 04:19, Eric Leclerc wrote:
I once read a story on this site that gave me chills. It was about a man (a Café member) who was at an adult party once, (attending not performing) and the kids were getting rowdy..So he decided to go to his car and get some balloons to make baloon animals for them.

When he started twisting them, he heard a comment from a woman "what kind of man carries balloons in his car?"

It has given me chills ever since I read it a while back. I have changed my philisoshy on performing for children differently since I read it.


.: sigh :.
leave it to a woman to mess things up...

Just kidding.
But no, really.
;)

------
I work with far more kids on almost any given weekend than I even knew existed. The Plex (my employer) hosts birthday parties and such (much like a Chuck E. Cheese without the large rat running about and the mechanical stage show) and I entertain for all the parties I can get to in a given day.

I read above that someone had said, and I fully agree: If you are genuine and mature in your dealings, there will be no problem. I'm the parents and the kid's best friend from the moment the party starts. Occasionally, I even play games with the kids in the adjoining arcade. The building itself is tagged with the 'Safe Place' logo, so parents know that the people working inside are there to ensure that everyone has a fun, safe time. If you are one of the kid's best friends just because you're really that cool, the parents don't worry. If I ever think the parents are worrying, I give all the kids some extra game tokens and stand around and make small talk with the adults for a few minutes. (Just so the adults can get a chance to get to know me on their level. It's a trust thing).
Much like the "Circle of Trust" on the film "Meet the Parents," you have to let everyone know simply by your actions, appearance, and conduct that you are a protector, and everyone's best friend. It seems like there are no secrets.

This may not make much sense, but after one show that didn't go well in the beginning (a year or so back) I was telling my boss about how horrible the kids were, and that the parents just sat back like I was the baby sitter and would handle it all.

He said to me, "Were you being their friend, or their magician? People don't disrespect their friends. Ever."

Mull that over a bit and reread what I typed above, it'll make a little bit more sense, I hope.

Anyway, that's my $0.02. Smile
Tony James
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Tell me what you'd do in this sort of situation.

You're not far from your pitch where you're working and there's a little child crying. Age 3 or 4, maybe 5.

What do you do?

Ignore it and hope it goes away?

Look hopefully at passers by and ask 'Is this yours?'

Speak to the child 'Shut up and go away'?


What would you do?
Tony James

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todsky
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Aaron, very nicely put.

Tony, being somewhat of an interventionist by nature, if the child was alone I'd offer to help.
Several years back, outside of a bus station, I came across a crowd of people in a circle, all staring at a man lying down on the road. At first I thought it was a movie set, but then I realized that the man had been run over by a bus, his body was horribly crushed, and everyone was just staring and doing nothing. So I went over to him, put my hand on his head and spoke gently to him until the ambulance arrived. He died there, but I hope at least he heard some comforting words before passing on. It was just the right thing to do. So is helping a child in distress, regardless of how others might misconstrue a kind action.
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Tony James
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Every once in a while during the season on the showgrounds there's a lost child, standing close by my show. Not often but two or three times in a season. they are usually 4 or 5 years. It's different if they're older.

I look around. See if I can see anyone looking. I approach the child and treat them like I would a child helper in my magic shows. I give them space and get down to their level. I talk.

What happens next depends on the response and the circumstance.

In my experience parents are not usually far away. In a panic child and parent may have looked but not seen so the last thing I should do is cart the child off to an official point. They're usually miles away.

My next move is to engage another adult, preferably female. Get the child to look -it stops them crying. If there's no sign of the parents I first ask the child if they would like to go higher up and look. They usually say yes.. So I pick them up, saying what I'm doing, onto my left shoulder and let them look. I'm careful where my hands go.

Do you know almost always they spot each other pretty quickly. And the presence of the woman defuses any concern.

As a father I know what I would have had people do if they found my daughter when she was that age.

But tell that story to people afterwards and you'd be surprised - or not - how many say they would have left the child there, crying, rather than become involved.
Tony James

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Al Angello
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Tony
I was doing walkaround at a local family day celebration, and I saw a four year old girl crying, I asked why she was crying, and she told me she was lost, so I took her over to the mike, and announced that there was a lost mom in the audience, and Wendy is looking for her. The mom showed up, and thanked me. We might be blow this out of proportion. I think that as long as you keep in the back of your mind that everybody is watching every move you make a simple act of kindness is still OK.
Al Angello
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Darkwing
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Quote:
On 2007-01-19 17:43, Al Angello wrote:
Tony
I was doing walkaround at a local family day celebration, and I saw a four year old girl crying, I asked why she was crying, and she told me she was lost, so I took her over to the mike, and announced that there was a lost mom in the audience, and Wendy is looking for her. The mom showed up, and thanked me. We might be blow this out of proportion. I think that as long as you keep in the back of your mind that everybody is watching every move you make a simple act of kindness is still OK.
Al Angello


Al, again you have shown that you are truly a scholar and a gentleman.

My best to you.

David Williams
Tony James
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The other aspect I think you've always got to guard against is the child and children who want to join you wherever you have you a 'private' place.

Sometimes it is behind a curtain or screen, maybe a stack of chairs, anywhere you can find some cover to set props unobserved. Sometimes there isn't anywhere so you set under cover of your table, if you use a roll-on or su type table.

With my Punch & Judy it's the frame of course - the booth as the punters know it. They're all hotspots.

When I was working Spain for a couple of years I had a base at one place and worked out at others. My base had a decent sized dressing room with a workbench and tools etc just off the stage. No one ever went into that dresssing room. Children would come and knock and I would send them to wait by the stage and I'd come out and see them. A previous magician always invited them in. Not me.

Some years previously a magician at home was caught and gaoled for abuse. Seems a number of little boys had been touched up over the years before someone spotted what was happening and the boys were finally believed. Every magician in the area lost business. The phone went very quiet.

Now here's a funny thing. This fellow had worked under some show Brand Name - I forget what he called the show. Not his own name anyway.. Whatever - he came out of gaol after two or three years and started up again! He couldn't get the business so he sold it to another magician who ran it for quite a while. I don't know how he managed that but he did.

So you see why from past experience I'm very very alive to the damage accusations can do to ALL our businesses.

In those days people weren't watching. Now they're turning over stones to see what might be there. Tough business being nice to children.
Tony James

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Tony James
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Here we go again.

a report this weekend of a local man goaled for abusing children. This one's a clown.

Well, I say that but you wouldn't think he was. he was a volunteer at a children's group and dressed up in joke shop gear. Anyway he's off the scene.

As a local magician compalcently mentioned to me it's all right. He wasn't a magician thank goodness. I'n so pleased about that.

I wonder if potenial punters are going to be really reassured about that too?
Tony James

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Tony James
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Do you find that when someone local is found guilty of offences against children that this affect your enquiries?

Is this just new enquiries?

How about bookings?
Tony James

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Tony James
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So are we to take it that an entertainer in your community found guilty of offences against children has no effect on your business?
Tony James

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Tony James
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So, just to keep us up to speed on this delicate topic, the TV and news is full of the UK government's new proposals about Paedophiles and the Internet.

The proposal is to monitor these people and to check the websites they look at.

They can guess about certain 'off limits' sites which are supposed to be illegal anyway. But they are also checking the types of sites these people find and then find they are to their taste, right out there in the open.

No wonder the American Beauty Pageant Parade people have removed photographs from almost all their sites.

I look forward to the day when these matters are put back into context and we can get on without having to look over our shoulders and second guess other people's perceptions about us - just because we entertain children.

I wonder who the idiot magician was who once said that magicians who entertain children only do so because they're not much good for anything else?
Tony James

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Tony James
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Making contact with organisation about Christmas Children's Parties for their staff and yet another has bit the dust.

The local authorities have advised several national chains that should/must - it all depends quite how you interpret the wording - not organise parties unless evry adult had CRB Police check. Result. Call it a day.

Scared stiff of child abuse accusations. Quite a few national companies have closed their parties. Maybe it's just a good excuse. It's about the last remaining staff activity that's corporately organised.

There are precious few summer events any longer. Time was when companies would hold summer family fun days, barbecues and so on. Some were quite intimate but plenty were big - bands, fairgrounds, mini circus acts, clowns and enough food for thousands.

Companies stopped spending a few years back and it hasn't picked up. Even 'big' corporate launches have become very small beer. Certainly no one is spending very much on entertainment, even when this is slanted at the business markwet.

Have you had similar cutbacks in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and elsewhere?

Or does Christmas bang on regardless?
Tony James

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wally
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Does anyone in uk have a problem with getting a CRB check because you are self employed??
Tony James
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No, it's not a problem Wally but you cannot apply for and obtain a Criminal Records Bureau Check on your own behalf. You need to go through an appointed organisation.

They will send you the forms. There is a standard check procedure which - depending on who you talk too - is either sufficient or insufficient. Most local authority people are fairly unimpressed by it unless it is very recent.

The other check is what is known as an Enhanced Check. They dig deeper and it is this check which is used for teachers and nurses and any other person who has direct and close contact with both children and vulnerable adults as they are described.

You will have to produce various documents and proofs of identity and provide all your addresses for many years back without any gaps.

To save you mailing your passport and other documents there is an additional set of forms allowing you to take these documents and identity proofs to the Post Office for on-the-spot formal verification. There is a separate fee for this facility.

If you work under a stage name or names you will need to include these and - would you believe this? There's no provision for it!!!

There is provision for a woman to have any number of name changes - either as a consequence of marriage or cohabitation - but not for a man. Ignore this aspect and simply use the space as best you can to establish that in addition to your certified name you are also known as The Great Candelabra or whatever you are known as.

Otherwise the final certificate won't connect with you as you're known.

Time was when your British Passport accommodated these aliases under an 'Also known as' section but no longer.

Then you bunk it all off to the authorised organisation and await the outcome. It usually takes a while as there are thousands of these checks being processed.

Do read the fine print VERY VERY carefully. You must only use a BLACK ballpoint. Some black ballpoints are not as black as others and they will reject your application if they consider your writing not to be sufficiently black.

I know. It happened to me!

When eventually it arrives you will be disappointed. £60+ on and it basically says it is not worth the paper it is written on.

There is no responsibility taken for accuracy, it reflects only England and Wales - not Scotland or Northern Ireland - and is only good on the day of issue. After that you need another one.

Go on their website and you may be surprised how little value is attached to any check they issue. As for a life, if you are lucky you may get three years out of it. Some local authorities won't accept 6 months.

Just remember Wally, these checks have little to do with protecting children.

They are there to protect local authority workers from accusations sometime in the future of neglect of duty as a consequence of accusation of abuse by someone who at present is a child.

That is what has happened recently over accusations of abuse twenty years ago and people in post then are now being held Io account over what they knew or should have known about what was going on - even though they were never personally involved.

Look at the case in court at this time where the accusations go back several years and the other one recently involving priests from Ireland ordering children for abuse and travelling to England to abuse them.

Paedophilia is currently the Bogey Man of anyone involved with young children in the UK.

I get the impression America is far more relaxed about the subject.
Tony James

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Daveandrews
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Personally, I just get on with my job as I have done these past thirty years, but remain VERY aware.

I am not a 'touchy feely' person, have never wanted a child to sit on my knee, never given children hugs and in this way (unconsciously) have prepared myself for the Child Protection Act here in the UK. Sounds cold, doesn't it,but that is how I am and always have been, about other people's children.

I do entertain the children and they laugh and do everything I want them to do (as do the adults). In fact most adults are totally unaware of what is going on, legally, to protect their precious ones and the majority of them just haven't a clue about the safety of children that WE are all SO CONCERNED ABOUT - until 'it' happens to their child.

There are so many things that, as a Boys' Brigade Captain, I cannot do with the children - but put that in a birthday party situation with a family, and anything goes. No limitations - they do what they want to do.Sit them down on the floor to eat from their party boxes, let them leap up and down on a bouncy castle, no matter how many are leaping up and down, or climbing over the walls heading for a possible broken leg !!!! That and more we can't do that as a Boys' Brigade.

Not sure where I am going with this, but I do feel very strongly about the whole subject.

Best,

Dave
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Mumblemore
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Glad people are posting about this (Tony started an important thread). I agree with mcharisse that this hasn't been a problem in "lesser" contact with kids related to staging (leading them to position, shaking hands, etc.). But I've also seen kids "clam up" for no reason and frankly have decided to do no "Instant Magician" or other tricks with closer contact than that because I don't want to give parents any perception of impropriety whatsoever (however ridiculous and even ill-spirited their perceptions may be - and if you get paranoid parents, an increasing problem in the US where we coddle kids, "blame" others, and sue people routinely - they come up with some wild ideas, and blame the magician for whatever ill humor their kid is suffering). Most parents are still good-natured and welcoming of professional and friendly human contact as part of a show. But the days of dismissing little girls from stage where magician asks for a kiss on the cheek (this is in DVDs like Malloy's "Silk Flight" for example), are long over. Dennis is right about scandals in US "branch" of Catholic Church and Boy Scouts threatening to affect this further. I think that in US, the post-9/11 environment is a lot less trusting more generally. I've seen this in other peoples' treatment of my kids. . . Good thread.
Andre Hagen
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Good thread but frightening!

Never had a problem over the years, but I'm wary these days. As much as I would like to do Fantasy or Instant Magician, I just can't bring myself to do it.

This problem has always been around. The present hysteria is the outcome of the media reporting every sordid instance, but if it heightens parent's awareness (and ours) it's good for everyone.

Thanks for bringing this up Tony.

Andy
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one - Albert Einstein
TRUMPETMAN
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I recently went through the intensive background check required by the SAM to become an assistant leader for the local chapter of the SYM. They interviewd more than a couple of my employers, co-workers, and friends. Now that I have been given the green light and "certified", I find it to be an added bonus that the parents enjoy finding out about. I mention it in most of my phone conversations with prospective clients for birthday parties. It is definitely an added peace of mind for the parents. I understand their worries completely, as I am a dad myself.

Mark Pettey
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Tim Ellis
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I wish there was more action and less talk on this topic here in Australia.

When I first got into magic, the local club would not admit members under 16 (or maybe 18, I can't remember). So they started up a group for teaching kids on weekends and one of the three teachers was a magician who'd recently served time for an "improper relationship with a minor"!

Of course, I only found this out ten or twenty years later and I was so angry at my "fellow magicians" who'd put us all at risk. (The man had behaved very improperly to several of the group and had some over at his house on many nights. Several are now severely confused adults).

The excuses from the other magicians were "He'd served his time" and "It wasn't my business". One of the three teachers was an ex policeman, apparently put in place to keep an eye on this guy, which he did at the classes but obviously couldn't during the "after class meetings".

Fast forward to ten or fifteen years later and another magician, who was also known for this behaviour but never charged, was applying to rejoin the club. A mother put in an unofficial complaint about him approaching her son inappropriately at a meeting and the complaint ws discussed privately by the club's committee.

One member of the committee leaked the discussion to his friend, the re-applying member, who then brought it up during the next club meeting and accused to committee of victimising him.

When the shouting died down, half the committee quit the club and never went back. His membership was accepted by the new President who had similar leanings.


I know this all sounds bizarre, but you'd be surprised what people will turn a blind eye to rather than risk "getting involved" in. I have spoken out about this subject several times here in Australia and as a result, there is a small segment of very anti-Tim Ellis feeling here.

Even in Sydney, one of the club presidents from years ago was a known (unconvicted) offender. People all seemed to know about it but laughed it off with "That's just him" and turned a blind eye rather than cause trouble. One magician did make a little noise about it and was visited by police at his home, who told him to lay off! They were friends of the very influential chap!
DJBrenton
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How easily a reputation can be given or lost. In my hometown there's a magician/childrens entertainer who most of the other local entertainers won't give referrals to as he 'has a thing for young boys' apparently. This 'thing for young boys' is actually that as a gay man, aged 21, he dated a 17 year old boy/man. 15 years later they're still together but the stigma still remains in the entertainemnt community. Imagine how long a single false accusation could blemish your career for.
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