I AM becoming really dispirited by all the revelations about historic sex abuse.

If you are of a certain age – which I most certainly am – entertainers such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris were part of your childhood, although to be honest I never liked Savile overmuch.

And Cyril Smith, the late MP for Rochdale, was truly a larger than life character when I was growing up. Who would have known what a loathsome and predatory character he really was?

The list seems to go on and on. At the time of writing the Government is under pressure to investigate allegations into a cover up of historic abuse allegations involving high-ranking politicians and other establishment figures.

The ‘missing’ document is said to contain allegations about an alleged paedophile ring involving MPs and prominent public figures and was given by Geoffrey Dickens, then Conservative MP for Huddersfield West, to Leon Brittan, then Home Secretary, in Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1983.

I wholeheartedly agree there should be nowhere for the guilty to hide. There should be no cover-ups.

The common thread is an abuse of power. These men patently felt they were untouchable.

But there is an unfortunate side effect, especially for all those innocent people working with children.

For more than eight years, I coached a boys’ rugby team. I was with that team from when they first started playing in the under eights age group and was team coach until they were under 16s.

Over the years, I was helped by a couple of assistant coaches, and while it was hard work at times, it was also great fun and hugely rewarding.

And yes, we had to go into the changing rooms both before games and after the matches. I was also a member of the club’s committee, responsible for helping to draw up a child protection policy.

I never came across anything untoward during my time with the club, but there is no doubt that over the years my attitude changed and I became increasingly uncomfortable.

At the start, myself and a fellow coach never gave it a second thought about being in the changing rooms as the youngsters got changed for the game and we were happy to be with the players at the end of the match to collect in the kit.

By the time I left the team and the club, I wouldn’t go into the changing rooms on my own and felt more comfortable if one of the parents came in with me.

And the season after I left, the club insisted that all coaches and helpers working with the youngsters were CRB checked, something I felt was eminently sensible for all concerned.

But I do wonder if we have now engendered a situation where we are now living in a state of fear and suspicion where harmless activities and pastimes are treated with undue suspicion.

Local newspapers such as this one have traditionally recorded the achievements of its local schools. And the one thing most newspapers insist on is that people are named, otherwise what’s the point?

But it’s not that long ago that institutional paranoia and fear went head to head with local newspaper policy when some schools, not all of them, started to refuse to give out full names of pupils pictured in newspaper photographs, citing child protection as the reason.

We have all been bombarded with stories of paedophile rings and child abuse but I would ask you to cast your mind back and try to recall any case where a child had been abducted or attacked because they had appeared in a newspaper photograph. I can’t think of a single incident.

In fact, the real source of child abuse lies much closer to home.

According to the NSPCC, more than 90 per cent of children who have experienced sexual abuse were abused by someone they knew. And the internet is a much more dangerous place, with 11 per cent of nine to 16 year olds having encountered sexual images on the internet in the past 12 months and 13 per cent of nine to 16 year olds saying they have been bothered or upset by something online in the past year, again according to the NSPCC.

But times have changed and there’s no turning back the clock. I spent a very demoralising drive to work recently listening to a radio phone in when caller after caller said they would not now approach a crying child in the street to see if they were OK.

That is what we’ve come to. Sad times indeed.