A group of head teachers has said that parents who allow their children to play computer games that are deemed inappropriate for their age will be reported to police for neglect and child abuse.
This means that theoretically, I could be separated from my 16 year old son because I choose to treat him like the near-adult he so plainly is. He is old enough to marry, to join the Army and vote in a referendum that decided the fate of his country, had we been living in Scotland.
A turn of Call of Duty, though, and he becomes a potential juvenile delinquent, while we are failed parents.
How on earth did we get here? One of the themes of this blog has always been the number of unelected, often uniformed busybodies who can increasingly determine what we do, what we choose to consume and in which parts of our common space we may congregate.
I have no idea how genuine the latest threat is – it does seem like one of those stories designed purely to provoke a reaction from the Daily Mail. Nor do I expect the Boy to be marched into protective custody at any time soon.
We have always taken a liberal approach to the sort of TV, films, books and games our children are allowed to access. This is partly because we are aware of our relative inability to exercise much control over this. Also, we believe that exposure to more grown-up material is more likely to act as a maturing influence. There are, plainly, no-go areas, but these are ones into which neither of our children seem to want to go.
We have taken a bit of criticism for this, from educators and other parents who take a different view. That is our decision as parents, and ours alone to take. They seem to have turned out well enough. I blench at the sort of carnage the Boy wreaks on demons, zombies and enemy infantrymen on the computer screen, but he has shown no sign so far of repeating it on passers-by.
What we have here, if this absurd restriction on our ability to decide what is best for our own offspring ever takes hold, is another case where the freedoms of the responsible majority must be curtailed because of the behaviour of a feckless minority. Cf sugar and fatty foods, drink, etc, etc.
The only saving grace is that nothing will ever come of it. I assume.