Mistakenly or not, I associate the word ‘innocence’ with childhood. The care-free faces of infancy are blank pages upon which the messages of life have yet to be written, and I cannot be happy if the first lines of care appear too soon. I believe the ten-year face should be that of a child, not a person in miniature. So when I hear that members of Ofsted, the authority responsible for educational standards in UK, are loitering in a playground with children of that age, asking them (allegedly) questions to test their knowledge of homosexuality and lesbianism, I worry.
Especially if they gauge the efficacy of a school by the answers they receive.
Now I have no quarrel with any form of sexual relationship between consenting partners, and I am not homophobic, but I do question the judgment of educators who are apparently so passionate about sex education that they feel it necessary to bombard our children with textbook John and Jane as soon as the poor little blighters get within range.
Whence springs this obsession with sex? Who are these people, burrowing and scrabbling away in the soft soil of childhood as they search for some kernel of perversion which will justify imposing their formulaic style of physical relationship? What is the real agenda here? And yes, I am suspicious; because in my experience those who show such inquisitive interest in this area do have an agenda of their own.
Why are so many hands raised in such horror at the thought that our children might be ‘exposed’ to porn, as though it was some death-ray that must destroy their lives? Why isn’t the same energy expended upon violent, increasingly realistic video games which display amoral values and cheapen life; or upon those who consider it valid to allow children to handle lethal weapons, or those who argue for the legalization of drugs?
Or those who manipulate child minds by advertising?
Or those who see the overwhelming evidence that social media is being misused, and turn away?
Somebody quantify for me, please, what actual damage is done to child minds by pornography? Emotive posturing aside, show me how many children become dangerous perverts because they saw a couple of films on line that were a little more than ‘educational’?
Then balance your result against – again, show me – those whose willingness to resort to gross, hideous violence is enhanced by exposure to violence on the screen; or those who, tragically, take lives (including their own) triggered by the ostracism, bullying and humiliation that can be inflicted so easily on Twitter, or Face Book, or…..?
The undeniable fact that we teach the wrong taboos to our children seems to indicate that the wrong people are doing the teaching. I would argue strongly that issues such as homosexuality must be discussed with the young, but not at ten years old.
If we must educate children in adult matters let’s expend the time instead on teaching them the hazards of grooming, how to deal with bullying, and how to preserve their privacy and their dignity online, in the playground, or in the streets. Easy enough to show a child of ten that the person who is so anxious they should become proficient in the use of weapons, or share personal information about themselves is not necessarily a good person. There are clear guidelines that can be drawn if this is part of curriculum, rather than something sidestepped with a cautionary word or two after the event.
We have to be honest with ourselves. Curiosity is a part of growing: without it we would never learn anything. Children will find their way to knowledge we would often prefer to keep hidden, and we have to blame progress for opening a thousand new doors every day to the inquisitive mind. But we have to show courage in seeking out and dealing with the aggressive predators who use those doors to wreak destruction, whether their tool is religion, or the bullet, or blackmail.
Otherwise, leave the innocents alone. Trust them. They will find their way.