Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sex education, sexual exploitation

Not long ago I posted on this blog about how sex education which focuses on consent and ignores all other aspects of sexual morality opens children up to abuse. Here is some concrete evidence, via the excellent Family Education Trust. This focuses on the corrosive nature of the sex ed ideology not only on the children, but on those charged with their care.

A serious case review published by the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board last year notes ‘an underlying confusion for practitioners in distinguishing between underage but consensual sexual activity between peers and child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation’. But that confusion does not exist in a vacuum. It is rather ‘rooted in the complex and contradictory cultural, legal and moral norms around sexuality, and in particular teenage sexual experimentation’. Put simply, a major part of the problem lies in the moral confusion that has resulted from an abandonment of moral absolutes.

The same theme features in the 2015 serious case review into child sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire. Having made the observation that there were times when ‘confidentiality was put before protection’, the report suggests that for at least some professionals this related to ‘a reluctance to take a moral stance on right and wrong, and seeing being non-judgmental as the overriding principle’. The Oxfordshire report further states that: ‘[T]here was…an acceptance of a degree of underage sexual activity that reflects a wider societal reluctance to consider something “wrong”,’ and argues that ‘action to prevent harm’ should always take precedence over ‘action to be non-judgmental’.

In a most telling comment, the report notes that ‘the reluctance in many places, both political and professional, to have any firm statements about something being “wrong”’ is among the factors that create ‘an environment where it is easier for vulnerable young people/children to be exploited. It also makes it harder for professionals to have the confidence and bravery to be more proactive on prevention and intervention.’

In the light of these observations from the serious case reviews, we should be wary of any approach to sex and relationships education that is reluctant to declare anything ‘wrong’. Children, young people and professionals alike all need a clear moral compass in order to safely negotiate the confused and confusing landscape that lies before them
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