Great news: One school has finally figured out how to stop pedophilia. We always thought adults were the problem, but apparently boys and girls are inviting predators to target them by wearing short skirts and tight pants.
Barry McCluskey of King's Park, Scotland recently pleaded guilty to posing as a 14-year-old girl online and convincing dozens of children to perform sex acts via webcam. The BBC reports that in response to this troubling case, King's Park Secondary School sent a letter to parents about a new dress code. It read:
We believe that an appropriate school uniform (eg school trousers, knee-length school skirt etc) protects children from being targeted by sexual predators.
There is recent evidence in the south of Glasgow of adults photographing school girls in short skirts and school girls/boys in tight trousers, then grooming them through the internet.
We must do all we can to keep our children safe. A modest school uniform is more appropriate than fashion skirts, trousers or tops.
Parents were advised that they could purchase "appropriate" clothing at the department store Marks and Spencer.
Many parents were rightly outraged by the school implying that when a child is singled out by a pedophile, it's their fault for dressing too seductively. As Eileen Prior, chief executive of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, points out, that horrible argument sounds all too familiar:
Creating a link between school uniform and paedophilia seems to be a dangerous and unhelpful one for everyone involved.
It implies that young people are in some way responsible for the activities of paedophiles, which is an extremely dangerous argument and one which has echoes of the comments sometimes made around rapists and women's dress.
There are legitimate reasons to make children wear school uniforms, such as lessening distractions or providing the school with a preppy panache, but warding off predators is not one of them. Children need more education on online safety and what sorts of activities they need to report to adults, but changes to their clothing accomplish nothing. Pedophiles don't lose interest in children when they put on a looser pair of pants. Sending this message to kids only primes them for believing that victims are somehow at fault when they're sexually assaulted.
Image via Wessel du Plooy/Shutterstock.