Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Hugging children

Cut out the paedophile hysteria, says Jeremy Irons


Actor Jeremy Irons says “hysteria” over paedophilia is damaging relations between adults and kids.

Irons, who has two sons, suggests that society should not prevents adults demonstrating affection to children.

“It’s very difficult because children under 16 are immensely attractive, any father will tell you,” Irons said. “We have to accept that, understand it for what it is and not become hysterical about it.”

Interviewed by Jeremy Vine for a programme on BBC1, Irons said: “I remember when my son was 12 he was like a god,” he said. “He just went through that sort of golden time for about 18 months. Parental love is sexual. Boys will flirt outrageously with their mothers.”

He describing what happened when he presented prizes at a fete. “I had done my little speech and a girl from the local school wanted to show me around the art exhibits.

“I was very happy to go. I had my arm on the shoulder of the girl as we walked around. But the teacher was there and looked at me and said: ‘Don’t do that.’ I said: ‘What?’ He whispered to me. I then said: ‘I’m sorry.’

“But I suddenly felt like a criminal. And I thought ‘What are we doing to this new generation? We can’t smack them or hug them. What strange people are we going to bring up’.”

The need to protect children, he said, should be balanced against demonstrative instincts. “We’re animals. We should hug our young. We should hold our young,” he said. “We shouldn’t suddenly, when our daughter becomes 12, stop her sitting on our lap, stop hugging her. What’s she going to think about affection, about human nature if that happens in her upbringing?”

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