IT SOMETIMES feels as if there is a new and horrible revelation
about the sexual abuse of children every day. Apparently, one in
six British children is targeted.
In The Paedophile Next Door (Channel 4, Tuesday of last
week), the documentary-maker Steve Humphries reminded us that
paedophiles were not, by definition, abusers; and argued that the
current witch-hunt was problematic, because it drove the problem
Central to the film were two interviews. In the first, we heard
the story of Ian McFadyen, who has become a well-known voice for
survivors in recent months. Abused at the prep school Caldicott, Mr
McFadyen described in graphic detail how his teacher had
"beautifully" groomed and assaulted him, and painted a distressing
picture of the lasting damage done.
Having arrived as "a cheerful, happy boy", by the age of 13 he
was "off the rails", he said, drinking heavily, escaping to London,
and seeking random sexual encounters with older men. Forty years
on, he was still profoundly emotional as he told his story.
Then we met Eddie, a self-confessed paedophile - a paedophile in
that he is attracted to children, but not an abuser, he insisted.
It must have taken enormous courage to make that admission on
national TV in the current climate. But the central argument of the
documentary was that, if we make no place for such admissions, men
who are sexually attracted to children stand no chance of seeking,
let alone finding, treatment. And this is likely to have
far-reaching consequences for society.
Towards the end of the programme, Ian and Eddie met on a park
bench. This made for painful watching, but it is to their credit
that both men made genuine attempts to understand each other.
Sadly, this programme promised rather more than it delivered. But
it was certainly brave to shine the spotlight into a murky corner
of life, and ask challenging questions about an issue that is too
often subject to an unthinking frenzy of outrage.
For light relief, you only have to turn to Posh People:
Inside Tatler (BBC1, Mondays) which offers an insight into a
very different, but bizarre world. All the people who work at
Tatler are impossibly beautiful and rich, and simply drip
privilege. (Can the features editor really be called Sophia
Money-Coutts?) New recruits are given a copy of Debretts
New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners on starting at
Their latest joiner is Matthew, a charming redhead. (He is not
posh, he insisted in a cut-glass accent; his background is more
middle-class intelligentsia.) His task for the week was to
gatecrash as many posh parties as possible. A colleague, meanwhile,
was sent to Poundland, and was utterly enchanted by the bargains to
be had there.
Tatler was founded in 1709. Asked whether it is still
relevant to the modern world, the deputy editor appeared to
struggle to understand the question. Luckily, the editor is in no
doubt about its purpose: "People feel very soothed that
Tatler still exists," she says.