The British Government has introduced a law that forces all children’s book authors who visit schools to register in a national database intended to protect children from pedophiles.
The Vetting and Barring Scheme begins October 12, 2009 and requires all adults who work with children, even on special one off occasions, to register for a fee of $105. The law is similar to child protection laws in place in other countries (most Australian states have such laws) however are usually only applied to those working full time with children, such as child care workers or teachers, as opposed to book authors who make the occasional special appearance.
Carnal Knowledge reports that several well-known UK authors will boycott schools in protest of the requirement including Philip Pullman, Anne Fine, Anthony Horowitz, Michael Morpurgo, and Quentin Blake. Pullman called the policy “corrosive and poisonous to every kind of healthy social interaction…This reinforces the culture of suspicion, fear and mistrust that underlies a great deal of present-day society. It teaches children that they should regard every adult as a potential murderer or rapist.”
The UK Government defended the law, saying that it was necessary to defend children from predators. I’m sure J.K. Rowling will be highly amused at the notion that she could be considered a predator, after all that label is usually only applied to her by extreme Christian organizations.