When I was four I developed an obsession with a girl called Carol and told her I wanted to eat her. At around the same time I was having lurid fantasies about genitally-imprecise, gender-confused, sado-masochistic sex orgies. Slightly later I developed a big thing about cowboys with their shirts off, and- slightly later still- fell in love with the dark-skinned, half naked slave girl in an illustration to my children's edition of the Pilgrim's Progress. There were Christian and Faithful striding patriarchally through Vanity Fair, manfully drawing attention to themselves- and there was she in the bottom left-hand corner of the plate, with her hair falling about her face and her breast hanging down just so, laying waste to Bunyan's allegory. Balls to the celestial city, I wanted her!
I was kept ignorant, but ignorance isn't innocence. Children are not innocent in the Victorian sense of the word. They are- as we've known since Freud- seethingly sexual and- just as important- insatiably curious.
So why this obsession with keeping their little minds pure? I can only suppose that most adults have- wilfully and ignorantly- forgotten what it's like to be a child.
If there'd been an internet when I was a kid I'd have been furious to know there were walls in place to keep me "safe"- and I'd have done everything in my power to circumvent them.