Should we still be speaking out?
By definition of the website name, Starts at 60, we are part of a well-defined group of people, female and male, who have all lived a long period of time and had very different life time experiences. Did Frank Sinatra engage you when he sang, in his unique way the words of the song “My Way”, into thinking if you had lived a life that’s full, traveled each and every highway and did it your way? I know I did. Perhaps more importantly, today, remembering the words at the beginning of this song saying with the end near and now facing the final curtain (not wanting to be morbid but realistic) do we, or have we, stopped living a life that’s full?
Many of us will be grandparents and those of us that are will understand what that means. In today’s changing world, with grandchildren, whatever their age, they, through their actions and behaviours will be communicating the environment in which they are maturing. We will naturally be comparing their world with what we grew up with and what we experienced. In many of these comparisons, with technology having such an impact on the changes happening, we will be forming judgments and comparisons and, on occasions, passing these on to our grandchildren.
Why do we do that? Mostly, it would be that the standards and code of behaviour that were instilled in our generations are often at odds with that of today’s society. Were ours better than theirs? No one can really answer that question, however, when we as grandparents do speak out on occasions, usually because we find a behaviour unacceptable, we feel it important to communicate what we have observed and how, from our experience and understanding of life, it will impact on their future in a negative way.
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Of course, the people most responsible for the behaviour of our grandchildren are their parents, and grandparents need to be conscious of not interfering or taking over the role of the parent. Therefore this conversation often will not be with the grandchildren but will be with your adult children, the parents, to convey your feelings or observations. Without a doubt, there is often a dialogue we have with our grandchildren, directly or indirectly, on a wide variety of matters happening in their lives.
There are two very contentious public matters that are very much a part of the lives of today’s younger generation. Same sex marriage and Safe Schools. As far as the former subject is concerned, since the announcement that there will be a postal plebiscite, conversation has taken off, often times with some violence and intimidation, unfortunately. How much conversation has there been on this subject in your family between the different generations? Has there been any? Probably the answer will be in the affirmative and being such a hot topic, will no doubt continue in earnest until the closing date and then until the result is announced.
But let’s leave that subject and move onto the other, Safe Schools. With no grandchildren at either primary or secondary school level, my only exposure is that reported in the various media and that gave great concern for someone of my generation, and probably would for many of the Starts at 60 Community.
One recent report seen on the internet was that of a student who secretly was filming a class being given Safe School instruction, the teacher’s voice heard speaking about vaginas and masturbation, causing much giggling and gasps in the background indicating lots of embarrassment was occurring. Now, many families will have had conversations at home about this program and there has been plenty of objections raised with some success in having some of the content changed or amended in different state education systems. But there is one aspect of this program that is felt needs discussion and consideration.
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We have just had a Royal Commission into Institutional Sexual Abuse of Children with the Commissioners still to finalise their report. Now from Press reports, the majority of children that were abused were in their pre-pubescent age group, certainly well under the age of 15. With the Safe Schools program, the introduction of information of what we would perceive as adult sexual practices, to children of this age group, with the rationale that it is to prevent bullying, by teachers about whom there is no knowledge of their education or background in such a field, one wonders if this is not a practice that could be described as institutionalised grooming?.
What also gives concern is that any predator who decides to take advantage of a young person, who has been exposed to this kind of “education”, would not that person look to coerce the child by saying “you have learned all about sex in class, don’t be silly. It’s normal” and potentially be in the position to bully the child into agreeing to the approach.
What are your thoughts on this possible threat to our children from this Safe Schools program? Is it not the parent’s role to educate their children about these matters of nature and at an age appropriate to the child? Is it worthy of conversation in your family? Is it worthy of more speaking out?
What do you think, are you for or against Safe Schools?