As the father of three boys, I’ve long been aware that showing any affection to your children in public can land you in hot water if you are a dad.
Recent media coverage has included the story of dad Craig Darwell, who was staying in a Travelodge with his teenage daughter Millie, when staff called cops to say he was a paedophile.
Last month a dad revealed how police officers wrongly accused him of being a paedophile for years – all because a typo sent cops to the wrong address.
The same thing happened to author and broadcaster Will Self, who was stopped by police while out walking with his 11-year-old son. A security guard had called the police after seeing Self, who was 51 at the time, walking with the boy on a rambling holiday in Yorkshire.
‘No Englishman enjoying a ramble with his son should face examination by police at the roadside on suspicion of being a sexual predator,’ he said at the time.
Even I was accused of inappropriate behaviour for hugging my son at a London restaurant.
Dads used to be heroes, respected and valued.
Now we are villains, demonised and vilified, just for caring and loving our kids.
Imagine if we reversed the genders, and it was a mother kissing her daughter? Would anyone even notice? Of course not.
The blanket targeting of men as sexual predators sets a dangerous precedent and teaches young men and boys that they too will be demonised when they grow up. It tells them that they shouldn’t show any love to their children when they become fathers.
There can be no place for this casual, anti-father discrimination, in society.
A dad should be able to walk freely with his children in public, irrespective of their age or gender, and show them his love and affection, without being judged or discriminated against.
Until then, a fathers love truly is the love that dare not speak its name.