Sunday, November 27, 2011

British Father Christmases told children can no longer sit on their knee

Don’t blame Father Christmas if he doesn’t allow your child to sit on his knee at a school event — teachers may have banned him from coming into contact with youngsters. While those playing Father Christmas are no longer required to pass a Criminal Records Bureau check, many schools have decided to “err on the side of caution” and impose rules on grotto behaviour.

Parents who have offered to don the red suit have been told they must not allow youngsters to sit on their laps and cannot be left alone with them.

Because CRB checks are required only for volunteers who have regular contact with children, Father Christmases are exempt. However, government guidance states: “Under no circumstances must a volunteer who has not obtained a CRB disclosure … be left unsupervised with children.”

Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said this meant many of its members had decided it was better if Father Christmases avoided all physical contact with children.

“The climate we work in, and the risks of getting it wrong, mean many school leaders err on the side of caution,” he said. “And if you are going to 'err’ I think that’s the side most parents would prefer.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said children could still sit on Father Christmas’s knee as long as parents were consulted and were “completely comfortable” with the situation. “Santas in schools should be treated in the same way that other visitors to the school are managed. Our guidance recommends that for such visitors a member of staff is present,” added the spokesman.

Christine Blower, of the National Union of Teachers, added: “It would be a great shame if misinterpretation of regulations deterred schools from traditional festive celebrations.”


Thousands of serial offenders handed just a caution in Britain

Almost 30,000 serial offenders escaped with a caution when they went back to crime last year, figures show. Some 4,600 of them were career criminals with at least 15 previous offences to their name. They were given an effective slap on the wrist even though their new offence was so serious it could have been dealt with in a crown court. And thousands more who were taken to court were handed fines, community penalties or conditional discharges.

The trends last night fuelled concern that little is being done to combat the most serious and persistent offenders and a revolving door in the criminal justice system.

It will increase pressure on Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, over his planned sentencing reforms, which will see tens of thousands fewer criminals go to jail.

In May this year, it was revealed that serious repeat offenders stand the lowest chance in a decade of being jailed. And it emerged in the wake of the summer riots that half of those involved were, on average, responsible for 15 previous offences, but had never been jailed.

Dee Edwards, of the R and K Foundation, a crime victims' group, said: “The revolving door is clearly going faster. “It saddens me that some many crime victim groups have set up over the years and it feels like we are banging our heads against a wall. “The people with the power are still not giving out the sentences that they should.

“In my view the first time you commit a crime you should go to jail just to see what it is like. But for someone who has committed 15 or more offences to then be given a caution the next time, they are just laughing at us.”

In the year to June 2001, some 101,774 adult offenders received a caution for a so-called indictable offence, effectively crimes that are usually dealt with in the crown court.

Of those, some 27,682 had at least three previous offences on their record and 4,600 had fifteen or more, according to the Ministry of Justice figures. That was a rise on the 4,400 the previous year. Related figures showed 28 per cent of offenders fined by the courts had at least 15 previous offences, up from 16 per cent a decade ago.

One in five were given a community order, up from 12 per cent in 2001, and 29 per cent received a conditional discharge, compared with 14 per cent ten years ago.

Separate figures from May showed only a third of all such career criminals received a jail term after committing a new offence. That was the lowest custody rate since such figures began being recorded in 2000.

Mr Clarke has been criticised by traditional Tories over proposed sentencing reforms that will see fewer criminals sent to prison and more handed penalties such as community orders and fines.

Figures released in September found hundreds of the August rioters were serial offenders who had been handed community penalties, fines or cautions for their previous crimes, leaving them free to join in the disturbances last month. One in 20 had more than 50 previous offences to their name.

Nick Herbert, Justice Minister Nick Herbert said: “Out-of-court disposals have an important part to play in the criminal justice system. “They allow the police to deal quickly and proportionately with low-level, often first-time offending which does not merit prosecution at court, freeing them up to spend more time on front line duties and tackling serious crime. “They can also provide reparation and a prompt resolution for victims.”


We Are Atheism’ Initiative Tries to Mimic Gay Rights Campaign to Get Non-Believers to ‘Come Out’

If they stopped attacking Christian observances and mocking religion they would have no problem. I am an atheist but always treat Christian observances and beliefs with respect and I have never had a moment's difficulty because of being an atheist

Modeled after the well-known “It Gets Better” campaign, an initiative geared towards gays and lesbians, three non-believing University of Kansas college students have launched “We Are Atheism.”

The campaign hopes to encourage those who don’t have a belief in a higher power to “come out” and be open about their views. Amanda Brown, 25, who is one of the project’s co-founders, says that it’s time for atheists to “stand up, speak out and be counted.”

“It is time for us to put up our videos and change the face of atheism. We want people to see we are normal people who have children and lives and do good in the community,” she explains. ”The whole point of the website is to let younger atheists know you will face persecution. But through us knowing each other we can all help.”

Brown, her husband and a friend started the campaign after hearing Jessica Ahlquist speak. Ahlquist is a teen atheist who was bullied after rejecting a school prayer banner that has been on display in her high school.

Essentially, Brown’s effort serves two overall purposes: The first, as mentioned, is to encourage closeted atheists and to change the way that the general public views non-believers. Thus, the project is essentially a PR effort to change the perceptions that believers have about atheists.

To accomplish these goals, videos and personal essays from atheists are published on the “We Are Atheism” web site, where daily traffic has been known to climb into the thousands. Prominent names in the anti-faith movement have even produced their own videos for the cause. Take, for instance, David Silverman from American Atheists. His profile on the site reads:
I’ve been an atheist since I was a small child, and I’ve never been closeted. I asked many questions, starting as early as 6 years old, but the answers were always hollow and nonsensical, even from my religion instructors. After a short time, I realized that my Jewish education was a waste of my time, and of my parents’ money.

According to Brown, atheists of all ages have reached out to say that the site has helped them feel less isolated. Some have even claimed that it has encouraged them to “come out” to loved ones.

Brown, who as Religion News Service highlights, had experience founding a gay-straight club in her school, has modeled “We Are Atheism” on the gay community’s “It Gets Better” campaign — an effort intended to stem bullying. While the latter inspires closeted gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual individuals, the former is intended to inspire those who fail to believe in the Almighty.

The idea here is that by exposing people to non-believers, biases and prejudices against them will dissipate. The students behind the initiative have already scored the support of The Richard Dawkins Foundation, one of the premiere groups promoting atheism.


Nurse Says He Was Fired Over Treating Muslim Women

A male registered nurse and Vietnam war Army medic has sued the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, saying he was fired for disobeying a Muslim supervisor's order not to treat women wearing conservative Islamic dress.

John Benitez Jr. filed a sex discrimination suit Wednesday in Detroit U.S. District Court after getting the go-ahead from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a "right to sue" letter Oct. 19.

The Associated Press left phone and email messages during the Thanksgiving holiday seeking comment from Dearborn officials. The Detroit News said a Dearborn spokeswoman declined comment.

In a complaint filed on his behalf, his lawyer, Deborah L. Gordon, said Benitez joined Dearborn's Health Department in September 2010. The 63-year-old Madison Heights resident has a three-decade nursing career. Dearborn has a large Muslim community and one of the largest Arab immigrant communities in the U.S.

Soon after starting work, Gordon said a Muslim supervisor told Benitez to refer patients wearing hijab to her, rather than treating them himself.

The complaint said Benitez complied until Nov. 17, 2010, when a doctor saw what he was doing and questioned him "about the cumbersome and unusual practice of taking women wearing a head scarf to the nursing supervisor for care," rather than going ahead and treating them.

The complaint said Benitez then began complying with the new instruction that he treat women wearing hijab.

On Dec. 1, 2010, Gordon said Benitez was fired. She said he was told it was "not because of any performance problem, but was instead carried out because the clinic's conservative male Muslim clientele did not want a male treating female patients."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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