Many people over recent times, both in private and in public, have expressed a growing concern at what is called the sexualisation of children and young people. Indeed, much has been written about it not just by social commentators, but increasingly by child development specialists and adolescent psychologists and psychiatrists. The growing level of young men and boys, some even in primary school receiving counselling or in some cases medical attention for overt acts of sexual behaviour including addiction, for example, attraction to pornography should be seen for what it is. It is not as some would argue a natural and normal progression to a more balanced and enlightened attitude to all matters sexual and gender. Rather, we are seeing serious behavioural issues that should be examined and discussed unencumbered by ideologies that do not just request, but demand compliance.
For some time now I have had significant reservations about an initiative being rolled out Australia-wide in public schools called the Safe Schools Coalition Australia program. The ideas, or should I say the ideologies behind the program, are not new. While those who developed and are driving it claim that they had a “lightbulb moment” regarding the concept, in truth it was lifted directly from similar programs that have been running in public schools in the US for decades. It is worth returning to both the form and content of the program on another occasion. What I wish to comment on is the highly sexualised material that our school children are being directed to through the program.
The program's mode of delivery is via state and territory based partnership organisations. By visiting the program website and clicking on “Our Supporters” followed by “contact us” you will find the full list of state and territory partners. It is worth a visit. You may be surprised. I know I was.
In the ACT, Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT have the contract to deliver the program. Having clicked into the website I, like I expect many inquisitive kids, started to review the content. How about “Dealing with uncomfortable sexual fantasies”? I make no further comment other than to say I do not know where the psychosexual nuances of rape fantasies are accommodated in the Australian curriculum. Moving on, I thought I would try “Questicon gets “Sexed up””. Kids in the ACT certainly know about Questicon. Having been to Questicon myself with the family a few times I knew it was a child friendly place. Well, not perhaps this time! The article shows Erin Smith, the person who delivers the program in the ACT, smiling broadly as she makes and then displays on a plate edible vulva sweet treats. I won’t repeat it, you did read it correctly the first time. The article explained that the so-called XXX Adults Only Science Night Explosion produced over 1000 what are described colourfully as “sweet sticky treats”. Sprinkles, coconut and icing sugar apparently are key ingredients. Now I do not consider myself a prude, but my instincts tell me there is something very wrong when our schools kids are being encouraged, indeed directed, to click into websites like this.
In case I had inadvertently accidentally found the exception and not the rule, I thought I would click into a couple of other partner sites. In NSW the state partner is Family Planning NSW. If you, as kids no doubt will, go to the website you will find exactly what you would expect. Without any particular reason I thought that I would have a look at the Frequently Asked Questions part of the website. Interesting indeed. The Question and Answer on oral sex and STIs was striking. Question: Recently it was my boyfriend’s birthday and for an extra special birthday pressie I gave him a blowjob. Is it possible that I could have caught some sort of STD or disease? Please help me. I am really worried. Answer: Oral sex is very safe in regards to the risk of pregnancy…. . In NSW there are public primary schools that have been recruited into the program. Surely the following question must be asked. If the NSW Education and Communities Minister, Adrian Piccoli knows about these matters, and he has had them drawn to his attention, how can he just sit on his hands and do nothing?
Coming originally from the state where you get to see the sun set over the ocean, I thought I would check out the arrangements in WA. In that state the WA Aids Council was awarded the partner contract. It appears that two people have been appointed to roll it out across the state. I am sure that there will be a range of views about the appropriateness or otherwise of encouraging or directing children onto the WA Aids Council website to scroll and click around for information. However, I am quite sure that our kids do not need their teachers facilitating them to visit a website that explains the finer points of cruising and other activities.
As bad as this may all seem, what is unforgivable, in my view, is that this is being done without the consent of the vast majority of parents who send their children to public schools. The program website proudly boasts that over 460 schools have already joined. What I would like to know is of the over 460 principals who have signed their schools up to the program on the membership form downloadable on the website, how many fully informed parents about what their children would now be exposed to and taught?
Parents are the primary educators of their children. They have an absolute right to know what their children are being taught in schools. It is about time they were told why their children are being placed in harms way by their principals, teachers and those appointed on contracts to introduce and propagate this material. The Foundation for Young Australians, as national convenor of the program, should also be served with a please explain notice. The federal along with state and territory Education Ministers also have some serious explaining to do. And in doing this explaining let us not try and wrap all of this up in the guise of some sort of anti-bullying initiative. Bullying of any kind in our schools be they public, Catholic or Independent is unacceptable and there should be robust policies and procedures in place to deal with it. Indeed that is presently the case. If those policies and procedures require examination and possible refinement then good, let’s get on and do it. But in doing this, let us protect all children.
Greg Donnelly is a Labor member of the NSW Legislative Council.
This article originally appear on Online Opinion