John Hayward Posted: 26 February 2010
The Home Office has today published a report on the sexualisation of young people, warning that parents have limited opportunities to prevent their children from being exposed to sexual imagery. It makes 36 recommendations including a ban on music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics before the TV watershed and the creation of a website where parents can report any 'irresponsible marketing' they believe sexualises young children. Just last week, Conservative leader David Cameron also called for an end to the inappropriate sexualisation of children, observing 'We cannot shield kids from the modern world and no-one would try, but we can try to stop them having inappropriate things put in front of them from an early age.'
While this new cross-party consensus is to be welcomed, it seems seriously inconsistent with the passing earlier this week of the Government's Children, Schools and Families (CSF) Bill. Even with the last-minute amendment that sought to give a small degree of flexibility over how sex education is taught, it still makes the teaching of a much wider range of sexually explicit information to children from the age of five compulsory and restricts the right of parents to choose the kind of education their children receive.
Lawyers assessing the CSF Bill on behalf of the Christian Institute and CARE concluded, '[The School Governors] may be placed on the horns of a dilemma in seeking to promote the acceptability of different forms of sexual union and at the same time respecting religious views. This may lead to applications for judicial review to enforce the relevant duties and this may be brought by pressure groups as well as parents.' They also warned that 'The effect of the changes to PSHE would therefore be to limit parental freedom of choice in the area of their children's education,' and 'It is likely that a teacher could be disciplined or fairly dismissed for refusing to teach particular matters because of his or her conscience.'
The Home Office report begins, 'Behind the social commentary and the headlines about inappropriate clothing and games for children, there are the real statistics, on teenage partner violence, sexual bullying and abuse that need to be acknowledged and addressed.' They condemn those who 'impose adult sexual themes onto children' and note that 'With proliferation comes normalisation. It is no surprise therefore that when researchers examine the content of young people's web pages they find that young teens are posting sexually explicit images of themselves on social networking sites, and self-regulating each other with sexist, derogatory and demeaning language.'
Of specific relevance to the CSF Bill, it warns 'Sex education, too, must focus on preparing young people to form healthy, respectful, emotionally fulfilling relationships.' Is this not one of the things our creator seeks to show us how to do in the bible?! In words reminiscent of Dale Kuehne's Sex and the iWorld, Kent University's Professor of sociology told the Today programme this morning, 'The whole of society is hypersexualised - sex becomes the common currency through which adults make their way in the world and continually send a signal to children that sex is all that matters.'
In the light of all the evidence that demonstrates that abstinence before marriage leads to the healthiest and most fulfilling personal, social, health and economic relationships , perhaps it is not too late for MPs to reconsider the wisdom (or lack thereof) of this week's controversial bill.