Well this really counts as one of the ‘headlines I never thought I would write’. It really ranks alongside, ‘Why I’m backing Eric Pickles for PM!’
But every once in a blue moon a report comes from a source, no matter how incongruous, when one has to say, “Absolutely right, spot on, what are we going to do about it?”
The report has been written by the Chief Executive of the MU for the Prime Minister and concerns sexuality and (very) young people. It concludes that young people are being exposed to sex in many ways too early. It looks at the role of cosmetic companies in promoting cosmetics for Tots, advertising in providing sexual images near schools and looks at many other problem areas that need to be dealt with including our broadcast media and the licentious words of some pop divas.
In my view it does not spend enough time in looking at the role of parents in this activity and it is parents who must take responsibility for most of the action to look at sexuality in the round and to expose young people thoughtfully and carefully in contemplation of what it means to their children.
A few years ago I watched amazed as a programme on TV told the story of ‘Little Miss’ pageants and competitions in America. Here girls as young as 5 were plied with cosmetics, hair dos and high heels that would have been inappropriate on a 15 year old and only just appropriate for a 25 year old. Egged on by doting parents, usually mothers, they then strutted their stuff on a catwalk in a junior version of Miss World.
I thought the programme and what it was portraying was obscene. I thought that the behaviour of the parents was bad enough to have the law come down on them. Similarly I watched a programme about another American activity – the Silver Ring campaign. I have no problem with young girls choosing sexual abstinence and even proclaiming the fact. But when a lot of 16 years olds dressed up posh to go to a black tie event with their fathers I nearly puked! Added to which the campaign seems to have a negative effect with a large proportion of the girls embarking on it having unwanted children because they did not know how to take precautions.
Now I am aware as I read this that I sound like the semi geriatric fuddy-duddy that I used to despise when I was 16. I am sure that when I was 16 I spent more time than I should wondering and thinking about ‘GIRLS’, but things have moved on drastically in those 40 years and I am sure that things are far worse today than they were then. We had a limited number of TV channels, no need for a ‘watershed’ because some things weren’t even mentioned on TV and children – up to the mid teens – wore clothes that were clearly designed for children rather than being a small version of what their mums and dads wore.
Whatever the full and final conclusions of the report that is published tomorrow I hope that Cameron and Clegg take it seriously. Children are entitled to a childhood. They need to know that sex is a good and fun part of life but not the ‘be all and end all’ of relationships. We need to know that children are not being exploited and brought to premature adulthood by companies whose only concern is not society but their bottom line.
Bring back the famous 5 and lashings of Ginger Beer – that’s what I say!