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Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Mother's shock at Channel 4 sex-ed programme

The Daily Mail has picked up the story of Lisa Bullivant, from Legbourne, Lincolnshire, whose daughter was subjected to the Channel 4 sex education programme "Living and Growing". Fr John Fleming's research in Australia has shown that although many parents will say that they are in favour of sex education in school, they often have no idea of the actual content of the programmes. This case is fairly typical. Lisa Bullivant said:
'We had faith in the head teacher and the school that all they would be learning would be basic puberty. It should have said in the letter children would learn how to have sexual intercourse.'
Predictably, some of the children started copying what they had seen in the film. This relates to the problem of sexual assault in schools which is obviously exacerbated by explicit sex-education. In addition to graphic cartoons of people having sexual intercourse, the Channel 4 programme also teaches children all about masturbation. Having learned what was actually in the programme, Lisa Bullivant was understandably horrified and has taken her daughter out of East Wold Primary School.

The controversy over faith schools and sex education has focussed on the rights of faith schools to teach according to their "ethos" and whether this will actually leave Catholic schools free to teach Catholic doctrine as true. However we also have a responsibility to witness to moral truth in society as a whole, not only in our own schools. The Channel 4 programme is widely used and many ordinary parents would be horrified if they knew what their child was being shown in "Living and Growing". Some years ago in Dagenham, parents at a state school protested vigorously and got the programme banned once they realised what was in it.

The DCSF piously talks of letting children know "the facts." Parents also need to know the facts, and in particular just exactly what is being shown to their seven year old children. As Catholics our mission in not simply to preserve our own schools with a limited amount of leeway in "religious ethos" - we are in a position to help other parents to protect their children from this grave assault on their innocence. Many parents are embarrassed to talk to their children about the facts of life. They need to know what will happen if they turn over this duty to the state.

(There is some more information about "Living and Growing" at previous posts: Sex-ed programme slammed by Daily Mail and Sex-ed: pouring petrol on the fire.)
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