The Inconvenient Truth Of RSE

As a wife and mother of 2 young boys, a secondary school teacher on career break, a stay-at-home mum at present and recently, a very concerned parent when it comes to my children’s education, I started a journey all parents should go on right now in Ireland. My child’s Junior Infants’ lesson in my local Catholic primary school, on a paedophile childminder, was the start of a series of questions that have opened my eyes and a Pandora’s box.

Do you know the story of a frog and how to boil it?
You know that to successfully boil a frog you should immerse it in water and slowly increase the temperature so the frog doesn’t get too much of a shock, but the result is still that it is boiled? If you put the frog into hot water it will immediately know what has happened and hop straight out. This is a very good analogy for what’s happening in our schools today. The frogs are you, the parents.

Do you know the exact material that is being given to your children in Relationships and Sexuality Education? I urge you to find out what is already being taught in your school. There are a lot of parents who are surprised when they realise there is much more to the RSE and SPHE classes than the homework sheets sent home from school. They are shocked when they realise afterwards the contents of discussion in these classes and are horrified to see the teacher resources – pictures and/or PowerPoint presentations and the people who were allowed into their child’s classrooms. I am one of those parents.

Coming from the north of Ireland and not being aware of the curriculum in Irish primary schools, I queried the Stay Safe curriculum when I was asked to give consent to my child being taught it, upon registration at the school. The principal questioned my interest and told me to view the content of the classes online. The Junior Infants’ lesson on a paedophile childminder was the beginning of my journey as a parent who asks a lot of questions.

Why do ‘experts’ think that all children need explicit and graphic material to help vulnerable children and prevent abuse? Why is it necessary for children in mixed classes to be taught the names of the sex organs or both boys and girls at such a young age? Why is it necessary to have classes on “Secret Touches”, what feels good, what doesn’t? Why is this being spoken about to my child? Why, at 5th and 6th class is it ‘normal’ for boys to learn all about the changes in girls, menstruation and girls’ personal hygiene?

Robbing Innocence
You are the expert when it comes to your child. Rely on your instincts! Why do we not allow them access to material that we have decided is not age appropriate? Why do we bother regulating TV and books for our children? Because it is our instinct to protect their innocence and this is a good thing! You have a right to do this. In fact, you have more than a right; you have a duty!Remove them from places of danger, build up trust with them, nurture a good relationship and they will come to you with any problems. And protect their innocence!

The innocence of children is a widely accepted and honoured time of life, both by instinct in parents, common sense elsewhere and by vast amounts of research by psychology and psychiatry. There are beautiful pieces of writing by the Vatican on this precious time of life. Why, when we accept these truths, would we be OK with inappropriate lessons which will affect this? Once taken, the innocence of a child cannot be put back!

It’s not OK for someone else to decide what age appropriate is when it comes to your children. It’s not OK for children to be given this information, especially if you feel your child isn’t ready. No! It is your job to decide what is right for your child! During the last number of years, we have all become aware of how abuse robbed our children of their innocence. We are all rightly angry at this. But now we have their innocence robbed at school in the guise of “Education”!

And did you know this is proposed to get a whole lot worse?  Do you know about the proposed changes? Is it OK for adult strangers to talk to your children about sex, even if your child doesn’t want to? How about an “Inspector” asking questions after the explicit lessons? This is what is proposed for the new RSE curriculum. Isn’t forcing a child to speak about sex to a stranger, a form of child abuse?

External Agencies:
Do you know the outside agencies who are delivering some of the material in your schools when the teachers feel uncomfortable at the content of the curriculum or feel it is not right for them to deliver such material? In the West of Ireland we have the “Aids West” group, funded by HSE, regularly invited into our Catholic primary and secondary schools. One of the staff, is the same researcher calling for pornography literacy to be included in the new RSE curriculum.

Policy updates:
Over the past number of months, lots of schools in our area are notifying busy parents of RSE policy updates and inviting them to read these lengthy documents. I doubt many parents have the time to complete all these tasks sent by text, email or maybe published on the FaceBook or Twitter pages of the school. But parents – you really should take the time. The fact is that the RSE policy updates pave the way for further boiling that frog.

Bringing Clarity to Confusion:
It’s not OK to discuss these issues with my children unless you have my permission. It’s not OK to discuss these issues with my children without presenting our morals and family values, or worse still – presenting someone else’s views that are contrary to what we are teaching our children outside of school!

In our family, my husband and I decide what age appropriate is when it comes to our children. That means we need to review the material, take some tough action and cause inconvenience. But you know what? It’s OK. We are not alone and it’s worth it. Our children are worth it.