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The news might be bad, but the reality is not

I don't know about other age groups, but if you take a group of women in their forties and ask about dodgy encounters of a sexual nature, everyone has at least one to recount. Without going into the territory of rape or date rape or adult harassment, as teenagers, or even before, many, many of us had encounters with bad people. Quick examples include flashers, weirdoes in woods, men fiddling with themselves down the back of deserted buses, babysitting jobs where the father groped the teenage babysitter on the drive home, adolescents being subjected to things by grown men "for a laugh", things that qualify as sexual assault.

They are encounters that were they to happen to my own children I would seek out the perpetrator and unrepentantly do my best to remove any equipment that might inspire them to do it again.

Boys of our age, while not immune to sexual abuse, were seemingly more likely to have been subjected to violence or inappropriate punishment in school in particular. That was back in the good old days. You know, before the world had become such a dangerous place?

And by and large, neither boys nor girls told their parents what had happened. We thought we'd get into trouble, get blamed for asking for it or having done something to deserve it. It wasn't perhaps a fair assessment of all our parents, plenty of them might well have taken our side and fought our corners, but the pervading belief was that we would get into trouble.

It is sometimes lamented that we are too quick to complain now, too quick to cry victim, no-one can say boo to our kids without parents taking up arms; but if parents don't, who will? If kids don't feel safe when they're little, they never will. A world where they feel they can tell if something bad happens, where someone will comfort and fight for them, has to be a better world. It is so often said of the world, that people are getting worse, with danger lurking everywhere. I really don't think it is.

Sunday Independent