Today is known as Valentine’s Day - a day when we’re encouraged to celebrate all things pertaining to romance and love. Newsagents and florists love the financial boost they get. Red hearts abound. Grocery stores sell lots of chocolate. Tradition tells us that the day is named after a third century Catholic priest, who was martyred on this day. And there are ominous signs that true romance, celebrated on this day, is also on its deathbed.

The thin veneer of hype that is Valentine’s Day fails to combat what appears to be a concerted effort to kill true romance for this generation. Our young people are being sold a lie when it comes to all things love.

Look around on this Valentine’s Day 2017 and this is what you see -

  • Fifty Shades Darker is the buzz in our movie theatres, and, despite the story line being about an abusive, obsessed and sadistic man’s domination of a woman, it is promoted as a romantic Valentine’s Day movie experience;
  • Volley sandshoes are promoting the celebration of sexual expression online to anyone who wants their sandshoes, including children;
  • The objectification of women continues to be overlooked by our Advertising Standards Board in public advertising;
  • Australia has ‘respectful relationship’ curriculum materials for state schools which includes activities for 12 year olds to role play a 17 year old female who has had 15 sexual partners and who rarely practices safe sex because she is often drunk when she has sex.
  • Pornography has become normalised in our society. Children are exposed to sexual content at a frighteningly young age, and young people are having their first sexual experience long before they can get their drivers licence. The ill-named “Safe Schools” ‘educational’ program promoted for use in our schools does nothing to discourage under-age sexual activity. In fact it does the opposite.

If all of this wasn’t so serious, you would have to pass it off as a bad joke. Instead, the dark undercurrent that threatens to kill the concept of lasting love and commitment for our next generation is causing incredible harm.

There is no excuse for glamorising abuse against women and dressing it up as romance. Humiliation does not a romantic fairy tale make! Violence and abuse is never an indication of love.

Australian teenagers are experiencing significant health issues that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

In an attempt to confirm to perceived ideals of body shape and size, eating disorders are affecting more young Australian girls than ever before, with many experiencing long term impairment including psychiatric and behavioural effects, medical complications, social isolation, disability and an increased risk of death.

Our children deserve their innocence. They should not be burdened with adult concepts prematurely. They should be playing sport for the simple pleasure of playing sport and not in the hope of being thin. We as adults owe them the opportunity to experience romance, and to understand what real and lasting love is, at an appropriate time and place.