Yet Another Misleading Headline

Heard this story on 5Live this morning and it caused a rather passionate argument between two people I’ve never heard of, one arguing that it was absolutely fine, whilst the other suggested it was complete ‘madness’ on the part of the parents, me I’m fairly non-plussed by the story:


I think if it was my children (I do not have any yet) I’d probably want to wait a little longer until they made such a journey by themselves, so I can understand some of the concern here, but at the same time the kids could be old for their age. The thing is, I don’t know the details so I shouldn’t judge, and neither should I make stuff up to dramatise the situation. This is exactly what the Daily Mail has done with this headline though because social services are not even involved in this case, let alone threatening the parents at the article makes clear. In the very first line:

Boris Johnson today slammed ‘barmy’ health and safety rules after a London couple were threatened with being referred to social services for letting their children cycle to school. [My italics]

So, they haven’t even been referred to social services, yet in the Mail headline this becomes ‘couple threatened by social services’. Brilliant. In fact (used in the loosest sense here), according to the Daily Mail article the concern stems from ‘other parents and teachers at £12,000-a-year Alleyn’s Junior School in Dulwich, south east London, [who] are said to think the practice is irresponsible and dangerous’. However, it is too complex for the Daily Mail to side with some parents and be against others, which is why they have had to blame the social services because then is falls neatly into the media narrative that it is just another example of ‘barmy’ health and safety rules.

Whereas if the Daily Mail properly acknowledged that the concern was raised by fellow parents and teachers it might inspire a more thoughtful approach from readers who might think for themselves for a second and consider whether they would be happy knowing that children in their local school cycled to school at 8 and 5 unaccompanied by their parents. It is not an easy one, and you could imagine that you’d feel better about yourself as a human being if you at least raised the concern with the school or the parents, just to make sure you are doing your bit as a caring citizen. It might not be appreciated, but at least you took the time to care.

But, far easier to just accuse the nasty social services getting involved thanks to the dreaded health and safety which – in wanting to try and protect two children (one 8, one 5) – is clearly completely ‘barmy’ because some floppy-haired Tory tosser said so. And quite how their actions makes them ‘heroes’ in the eyes of Boris is beyond me – although he reasons it is because the couple ‘have taken the sword of common sense to the great bloated encephalopathic sacred cow of elf and safety’. In my eyes he lost the argument when he misspelled health and safety.

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