Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The controversy raging over the Sherwell Valley School sex video and the Torbay Council sex-and-booze survey of 12 year-olds seems to sum up the confusion we have made of childrens policies in this country. It really is time to admit that the Government is the cause of the social problems our young people face, not the cure.

At school no-one is allowed to fail, yet winners aren't recognised and excellence in many schools has become a dirty word. The hardest working are often ignored because teachers are too busy making 'behaviour contracts' with disruptive pupils who they are afraid to rebuke for fear of legal action.

Obesity is a massive problem, but we've built over all the playing fields and eliminated competitive sport from junior schools.

Teachers are banned from putting plasters on cut knees, and are not allowed to cuddle or comfort a crying child anymore while police officers patrol our schools and are sending boys to court instead of the headmaster for fighting in the playground. We are criminalising children for being, well, childish. In one recent local case a 16 year old ended up in court for 'kicking a door' at his care home, for instance.

Kids - who aren't allowed decent Saturday jobs anymore - are expected to run up tens of thousands in student debt at university and then lectured on the 'evils' of being in debt.

With sex education it's even worse. On the one hand we seem determined to fast-track our children to adulthood yet on the other we seem terrified of letting them grow up.

While we are locking up sixteen year old boys for having sexual relationships with their fifteen year old girlfriends we are busy sending out surveys to their 12 year old siblings asking them whether they know how to get hold of the pill.

We force shockingly sexually explicit videos on eight-year-olds at school, and then want to ban adverts for hamburgers when they get home.

Yet the more the authorities interfere, the worse the situation becomes. Each new initiative by Government is followed a couple of years later by a predictable increase in problem pregnancy, under-age sexual activity and sexually transmitted diseases.Torbay Council says it works 'in partnership' with parents, but the partnership is one-sided because as a parent you are no longer trusted to educate your children on the facts of life in the manner and at the time you see fit.

While parents gently re-assure their teenage children it's wrong to have sex too early the authorities are busy telling pre-pubescents exactly how to do it and where and when to get contraception, even how to get an abortion without parents knowledge.

Is it any wonder our young people are so confused?

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