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eddieloughran
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Going back to the beginning of the thread.

Checks on magicians and those working with children has nothing to do with PC.

It's because a school employed a caretaker without checking his background and he murdered two children.
After that nobody in their right minds would allow children in their care to be with someone who hadn't had at least a basic background check.

The danger of offending teachers or parents is shown by the assalt/tap story.

We really must be careful and not argue that times haven't changed.

Mr James talks of suing those who speak badly of us; think how schools feel when you may put them the the same position.

We may not like the changes that involve us but we must face up to them !
Potty the Pirate
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I have no problem with seeking out the perpetrators of evil acts involving children, and I'm happy to go along with people's opinions. But as has been stated above, ther is a "good" way and a "bad" way to touch children. Now I personally have no idea how to touch a child in a "bad" way, so this problem (so far) has never come up. I am regularly left alone with the kids while I set up. The parents must trust me, to allow this, and I reciprocate that trust by behaving in exactly the manner they would expect.
It's simple, and it's like an extended family. In effect, folks regard me as a friend, and know that I am safe to be alone with their children.
Personality is an important factor, and some entertainers may not engender that level of trust, for whatever reason. (Most of us are rather shy underneath that magical exterior). If you don't feel comfortable with being alone with the kids, then simply tell your hosts you need at least one or two adults present at all times. That's what I do for events like weddings and Christmas Parties.
TomBoleware
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Here in the states we have a law protecting those teachers and caregivers who report suspected child mistreatment. You can’t sue. Even if you could, it would most likely ruin your career. What school would hire someone that sued another school.

Working with children is a big responsible, it better be taken seriously. One misunderstanding and your life will never be the same. Be careful out there.

Tom
"Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week"--Lori Greiner

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SpellbinderEntertainment
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Rossmacrae wrote in part:
That's why professionals - doctors, lawyers, police and more - develop protocols, standard ways of buffering your interaction. In the performer's case, a protocol should probably involve asking the parent EXPLICITLY first before interacting with the child…
--------------------------------

Darkwing wrote in part:
Remember, children are the most precious and innocent creatures God created. It is our awesome duty to protect, reinforce, and enhance their childhood experiences and memories. It only takes one person to screw it up for us all.
--------------------------------

Thank you gentlemen for two wonderful posts and contributions to this very real topic.

A few of those posting here are living in a dangerous fool’s paradise.

We live in a world-wide, litigious, paranoid, and prejudiced society for the most part.
It is as if Orwell’s vision of “1984 becomes less fiction and more fact each day.

We MUST each seriously consider and develop our own standards and protocols,
and those policies must err on the highly conservative side.

Whatever our personal ethics, or affection for the young, we live in a new world….
a world which is potentially more dangerous for both the child and the entertainer.

Parents and caregivers are watching more than ever before…
and watching with new eyes,
eyes trained by Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer.

The times for even a gentle tap on the arm, or a friendly wink, are gone!

As a performer who is an openly “single gentleman of a certain age” I come under even greater scrutiny, and at times suspicion, than most of you.

Yes, I continue to entertain at family events, but the rules have changed,
and in the USA (and it seems the UK more so)
you are guilty until proven innocent.

The word of a disgruntled child
who did not get picked to help on stage,
will be taken with more weight
than your thirty-year spotless reputation as an entertainer.

I simply felt I must echo the words-to-the-wise above…
--Never be alone with your young audience members,
--Never allow any physical contact with children you don’t know,
--Always check-in with the parent in charge.
Period.

My two-cents,
Walt
Darkwing
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Quote:
On 2007-01-14 15:33, SpellbinderEntertainment wrote:
Rossmacrae wrote in part:
That's why professionals - doctors, lawyers, police and more - develop protocols, standard ways of buffering your interaction. In the performer's case, a protocol should probably involve asking the parent EXPLICITLY first before interacting with the child…
--------------------------------

Darkwing wrote in part:
Remember, children are the most precious and innocent creatures God created. It is our awesome duty to protect, reinforce, and enhance their childhood experiences and memories. It only takes one person to screw it up for us all.
--------------------------------

I simply felt I must echo the words-to-the-wise above…
--Never be alone with your young audience members,
--Never allow any physical contact with children you don’t know,
--Always check-in with the parent in charge.
Period.

My two-cents,
Walt



Walt,

I could have not said it better, myself. We as entertainers have to do it better and with the highest ethics. Anything less is trouble waiting to happen.

David
todsky
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Tony, here in Montreal, Canada, we haven't become paranoid enough yet to require children's entertainers to be 'certified'. I feel sorry for those of you who have to work in such a climate of fear in the USA and UK.
Todsky's Magic Shop: over 15,000 tricks, books, DVD s and Card decks. www.magicstore.ca
Snidini
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You SAM members may or may not know this, that it has become so bad with paranoia, that SYM teachers/advisors must fill out the required SAM informational sheets and have background checks on them before they can teach/participate in the youth of America magic programs. Then if that isn't enough, there must always be a minimum of two, not one, adults present when meetings are taking place. Hopefully you will see how hard it is to get a SYM group off the ground in many of the clubs around the US. Just curious, but does the IBM require this form of protocols?

Boy Tony, you got 'em stirred up on this one mate. Great post.


Snidini
Potty the Pirate
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Tony, things aren't as bad down in my part of the UK. I now have a "police check", but for many years I didn't, and even now, not a single school or public venue has ever asked to see my CRB check certificate, or even if I have one. I work at dozens of schools, nurseries, government-run families projects, and hospitals. Hospitals are the only places where I'm asked for the CRB check.
However, I have had problems with local authority gigs in the past, because they take forever to pay. Mostly now, I avoid any bookings that will be paid for by my local authority directly.
There is a local magician who last year was arrested after hitting a child during a show. He continues to work at schools and playgroups, much to the surprise of many. To read the story from both sides, it's clear that the magician was in the wrong, but no one has actually taken any legal steps in the matter.
This is a difficult and highly emotive issue, and there are no right answers. It seems like the deciding factor here is luck, as whatever precautions you put in place, you can never be sure what might happen....
So I prefer to make sure my behaviour tells everyone at all times that I'm no threat to kids. Whilst that may work for some, it won't work for everyone.
Doug
Tony James
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Thank you for your help. Would you please tell me if I'm right about this.

From your replies it seems to me that you are under social pressure about your conduct and dealings with children.

However, you are NOT under local or national goverbment pressure as we are in the UK.

Have I got this right?

In fact, our pressure comes from rules rather than legislation. There's no law here to say you must have a Criminal Records Bureau Disclosure Check if you entertain children. It's local government who say we will not employ you for the day at our event if you don't have a check.

Or, we will not permit you to work in public, in the shopping mall or outside in the square, unless you have a CRB Check.

And in some cases, we will not lisence other people's events unless they demand a CRB Check from you.
Tony James

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Dennis Michael
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Not yet, but I see it coming...

The Catholic Church requires all adults who are involved, in anyway, with the church must be "CAP" trained. This require a background check, fingerprinting, and an all day seminar.

Also to be a Boy Scout Leader, every adult must be trained and have a background check. If a Catholic Church sponsors the scouting troop/pack, then all adults must also be "CAP" trained. So that means I had to be certified twice.

In the last year, I've seen this issue being pushed very hard by these two organizations and expect it to expand to our profession eventually. I predict in the not to far distant future, all Children Entertainers must have a background check and updated on an annual basis.

Dennis
Dennis Michael
Tony James
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So your driving force is society and not authority. Have I got it?

Therefore, organisations are implementing some obvious form of control and check on a voluntary basis.

So the impetuous should result in your local government following rather than leading? Am I right.

Whereas here in the UK it's local government which is leading and imposing its requirements in those areas where it has direct control and including its requirements as a part of granting the authorizations essential for independent activities to function.

As a consequence, just like you independent organisations are applying these requirements too, in order to be seen to be doing something and in a self protection move.

Sorry - I'm not trying to be contentious or cynical. It's unacceptable and for every good reason needs to be prevented.

But it has become flavour of the decade and the application of preventative measures has become a very large sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Of course, you may not agree.



Talking about this someone asked me why I thought there was so much bother. Whilst there are many reasons, not the least of which is media hype, here in the UK the motivating force is personal fear at local government level.

I think a lot of this local government zeal stems from management fearing they might be caught up in something 20 years hence, and taken to task.

That's happened/is happening to their predecessors, many of whom are accused of either complicity, or covering up or dereliction of duty for not knowing about what was going on. It's a catchall situation.

And there are a still a number of high ranking people in all church faiths and other organisations who are probably feeling vulnerable. Not because they were directly involved themselves, but because they knew and did nothing.

And how do the innocents prove 20 years on that they didn't know?

Hence all the measures now being introduced, not quite so much to protect vulnerable children and adults, but to safeguard 'The System' and all who sail in it.

Fine if it protects the vulnerable but I would prefer it was an Objective rather than a consequence.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
todsky
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Your last post is quite informative, Tony. I would have to agree that a lot of the over-zealousness is probably due to people in positions of organizational authority who don't want to be in a position of liability. If the concern was really for the children, I think there would be more emphasis on empowering children, rather than protecting adults.
Todsky's Magic Shop: over 15,000 tricks, books, DVD s and Card decks. www.magicstore.ca
Tony James
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"Quite informative" ? Todsky.

I would have preferred that word which I see used here in almost every paragraph of every post. Except, yours of course.

The word is "Awesome" though I'm far too modest a chap to use it myself.

What exactly does it mean?

I know, "Quite informative." Thank you Todsky.
Tony James

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todsky
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Tony, what the $%#@^&! are you talking about?
Todsky's Magic Shop: over 15,000 tricks, books, DVD s and Card decks. www.magicstore.ca
Stevethomas
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I think you neglected to tell Tony how great and all-knowing he is. You have to do that, and always walk out of the room backwards to show your reverence to him. Remember that, or you could be beheaded.

Steve
mcharisse
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My wife is a child-abuse investigator here in the US, and I mentioned some of the concerns first raised in this thread. She agrees it's risky to touch or hug children these days, if only because such actions can be misinterpreted. False accusations have been made by well-meaning people in the past. As a newspaper editor, I've dealt with a couple of stories like that, though never related to magic. Of course if parents are present, and give permission, there may be less reason for concern. As I think back, though, on many years of doing magic, I can't think of any contact with kids, other than leading them by the hand onstage, or shaking hands with them or positioning them in front of the audience. Those, we think, are fine. Like anything else in magic, if there/s a reason for the move its OK, but an unexplained hug or touch might raise unjustified spectator suspicions.
todsky
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Steve, I'm not sure if Tony's all-knowing, but he is quite informative.
Todsky's Magic Shop: over 15,000 tricks, books, DVD s and Card decks. www.magicstore.ca
Tony James
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Don't worry Todsky, true Englishmen find it slightly difficult to accept compliments and tend to react much as I did - with humour, often against oneself.

I have a very English sense of humour where one says one thing whilst actually meaning the exact opposite.

I am also fascinated by the word 'awesome' which in English English would be reserved for something quite extraordinary such as a massive volcano erruption, or being invited to take tea with the Queen.

When we suggest - as Steve as pointed out - that people should walk backeards out of a room you know we are kidding.

On the other hand if you don't know then it's amusing to watch people bumping into the furniture as they exit!

Keep smiling through!
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
todsky
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Thank you for clearing that up, Tony. No offense was taken, I knew there was some Brit humour buried in there somewhere. You are indeed awesomely informative.
Todsky's Magic Shop: over 15,000 tricks, books, DVD s and Card decks. www.magicstore.ca
Eric Leclerc
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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.
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