Those running schools, nurseries and children's homes know that paedophiles are attracted to the opportunities presented by such work. However, the law of unintended consequences means that making a fuss about the problem and treating every applicant for a job as a potential paedophile will deter non-paedophiles, making the situation worse. The best protection for the children is the quiet exercise of good judgement, coupled with a sad acceptance that - occasionally - a bad 'un will get through.
The equivalent problem in politics is that it presents tempting opportunities to those who love to interfere in the lives of others. Humanity seems to divide, not by left and right, but by those who want to be left alone and those who like to tell others what to do and how to think. A political career is as unattractive to those of us in the former category as it is attractive to those in the latter. Is it any wonder that the ratchet of tyranny clicks relentlessly through government after government?
Perhaps it is our collective fault. Every day there are stories like this one, which prove that - so far from quietly exercising good judgement - an infantile population is crying out for more "care" from Nanny; in this case demanding that she wag her finger at Hugo Chavez about poor health and safety on his nation's beaches. One can smile while imagining Il Presidente's "anti-imperialist" response, but the fact remains that this deluded woman believes the state should somehow protect her children wherever they go. Politicians are all too prepared to pander to that dangerous fantasy. They are more concerned to appear "caring" than they are afraid of being seen as idiots. Do they, or this ridiculous woman, imagine that the ugly warning signs she believes should have been there (as if the ocean itself is not warning enough) would have been in English?
Is there any way, now that we have reached this stage, that the nation can protect itself from attracting the wrong sort of staff to the national kindergarten?