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Schools and the sexualisation of our children

Chris Sugden, Church of England Newspaper, October 8th

Anglican Mainstream sponsored a conference in London on Saturday October 2 entitled: “Where did you pick that up? – Schools and the Sexualisation of our Children”.  It was supported by CPAS JSW Deacon’s Mabledon charity, CARE and Premier Radio.

100 people attended, clergy, school governors, head teachers, General Synod candidates, Roman Catholic and Protestant lay people, resource groups for relationships and sex education in schools and parents.

A Mum from Nottinghamshire spoke of how her 10 year old daughter came home from school and told her about their sex lesson, allegedly on puberty. The preparatory notice had been sent as a footnote in tiny type to the weekly news flyer, so there had been no real chance to look at the material beforehand as parents can request.  A review revealed that while the main material was just about acceptable, the further curriculum was most worrying. The head explained the school had no choice, which turned out to be false.  The sex lesson included tips on how to masturbate.

Within two days her daughter had changed her behaviour, covering up in shame in front of her parents and sibling, and in the playground ten year old boys were running around shouting “Lets have rough sex” and running into the school nature preserve taking their trousers down.

The sex 'education' now embedded in certain schools and child and youth agencies is presently taking many casualties among our children. Delegates were shown various sex education materials which were either 'too much too soon' or positively encouraging of sex practices which parents in the main would have never heard of and which were either dangerous, immoral, perverse or a combination of the three. If nothing else, parents must become far more aware of what their children are picking up ‘out there’.

Research findings were presented by Dr Trevor Stammers, past chair of the Christian Medical Fellowship and author of “Saving Sex”. He showed that despite all the propaganda and curriculum about safe sex, following the logic that “they are going to do it anyway so it should be safe”, the figures for teen pregnancies had showed no decline whatsoever.  Anecdotal evidence from a Roman Catholic School in Milton Keynes is that it follows clear Catholic teaching on abstinence and has the lowest teen pregnancy figures in the area.

Canon Vinay Samuel’s paper on A Christian Approach to Child-Well Being was presented in absentia. A consultant to World Vision on the Spirituality of the Child he argued that current conceptions of well-being marginalize moral and spiritual development.  “From a Christian point of view”, he said, “the natural has the capacity for the supernatural. Exclusion of the supernatural creates the unnatural”.  Jesus presented children as envoys of his kingdom in their ability to reach out with empty hands. Their personhood as the ability to take responsibility should be nurtured in the context of the kingdom as part of a community of faith.  The kingdom context enables a child to see how God is central to all life, to their identity, security and growth and receive their calling to love the neighbour.

Many contributors affirmed the intuitive appreciation of children for spiritual realities and God’s truth. A focus on sex education rather than the exclusive lifelong marriage relationship that sex expresses undermines children’s intuitive grasp of God’s best.

A number of groups presented the resources they offer for the relationships and sex education lessons. These included LIFE ( www.lifecharity.org.uk), Lovewise (www.lovewise.org.uk) Challenge Team (www.challengeteamuk.org), Evaluate (www.evaluate.org.uk) and the Christian Institute (www.christian.org). A call was made for resources and training for school governors to be able to identify which curricula supported and which undermined presentation of the ideal of marriage, which the law specifies must be included. Too often marriage and relationships were absent from any teaching given. Churches were also encouraged to present the teaching that sexual intercourse means you only for me for life, and responsibility for any children conceived, as part of their regular pulpit ministry.

A DVD of the conference presentations will be available and announced on www.anglican-mainstream.net.  For information and contact details of resource groups are available from conference co-ordinator Dr Lisa Nolland, [email protected], 0117 924 4896


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