COMMENT HOW easy it is in this civilised age to look back with moral superiority at the appalling behaviour of our forebears, who in the last century ruined countless young lives by obliging children to labour in mines or clean the chimneys of the rich.
How sobering to contemplate what future generations may make of the way childhood is still being blighted today.
This week, Britain stared into the face of real evil. For years, hundreds of children in North Wales were systematically abused and tortured, their cries for help ignored. And there could be worse to come. As the Mail revealed yesterday, investigations originating in Lambeth have uncovered evidence of a nationwide paedophile ring which may have claimed as many as 11,000 victims.
Even that is not the end of it. Virtually every police force in the country has had to examine allegations of children being exploited while supposedly being looked after by local councils. Indeed the word 'care' has become almost a blasphemy.
Today, there are around 68,000 young people - some of them very young - who have been abandoned to local authorities, largely because of Britain's catastrophic rate of divorce and family breakdown. Yet successive governments have refused to lift a finger in support of marriage and the family.
The Tories, to their everlasting discredit, skewed the tax and benefits system away from married couples with children and attempted to make divorce even easier. New Labour seems obsessed by gay rights to the exclusion of all else.
The malign impact of political correctness has been worsened by a 'care' ethos that seems to have abandoned all contact with common sense. Gone are the days when council homes were staffed mainly by women. Today they have been largely replaced by men.
Of course it could be argued that this is an advantage - provided careful checks are made - since many children in care desperately need male role models. …