Bryan Broom is a model citizen and a pillar of his community. He has been a school governor at Kirk Ella St Andrew's Community Primary School in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and for the last 20 years he has been the school's lollipop man. Children and parents love him. Jerry Cloud Platt, one of the parents, said that she always knew she could have a belly laugh with him. "He was funny but still was serious about safety. It was a win-win situation", she said.
Mr. Broom used to high-five pupils as they crossed the road. A harmless and fun gesture. Children like high-fiving. Just watch the smile on a child's face. Listen to them laugh. Some parents complained, though, and although their complaints were not upheld by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Mr. Broom was told he could no longer high-five because it "could be construed as grooming".
Mr. Broom resigned last week and his final day keeping children and parents safe as they cross the road was last Friday. During an interview on ITV's This Morning today, he said:
"I couldn't work somewhere I was always looking over my shoulder and where I was always over thinking if I was saying the right thing or if it would be interpreted wrongly. If the children was with their mums or their grandmothers or carers I would say, 'Is that your sister with you?' I wish the council wouldn't take it the wrong way, I don't understand why. I feel like the tail is wagging the dog."
It really is sad that a 77 year-old thinks this way. But this the world we are allowing our children to enter. Out goes common sense, and it is substituted with paranoid parents and councils always fearing the worst. Of course safeguarding children is important, and if any parent had seriously thought that Mr. Broom was in some way touching children inappropriately then it should be investigated. But no-one from children to parents to the council thought anything like that.
At the end of the interview on This Morning, Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes both high-fived Mr. Broom. Ruth said that East Riding Council "won't be happy until they have robots working for them". But in all fairness, it's not just East Riding Council. We hear stories like this one from across the country, and most of the time it is a vocal minority of parents who want to wrap-up their children in cotton wool who are the perpetrators.
It's no wonder that when some children go to university they need protection from other people's opinions in their safe spaces. And then when the enter the workplace, the list of things that cannot be said reads like an encyclopedia. Human contact is important, but when many people feel that they cannot interact without it being misconstrued, what sort of society are we living in?