Since its inception, the Safe Schools program has ushered in increasingly inappropriate material in the name of sexually educating the youth. But its latest resource, aptly named “Catching On Early”, has even forsaken the façade of child appropriate material, blatantly featuring explicit images. In a post about the 200-page resource by the La Trobe University research centre, the Herald Sun reports:
Opposition education spokesman Tim Smith said parents and family groups had approached him about the age-appropriateness of the Catching on Early: Sexuality Education for Victorian Primary Schools resource. Pages about conception for grade 4 [8 & 9-year-old] children explore assisted treatments, surrogates and same-sex couples.
Mr Smith summarised the content of the “Catching on Early” textbook, saying:
“It’s a disgrace that the Andrews Labor Government is teaching primary school children with material that belongs in an X-rated movie.”
Other officials, such as AFA Victoria president Terri Kelleher, have mentioned the mature content, reinforcing that the textbook images were “very explicit, very graphic” and “not appropriate”.
But proponents of using the resource in the Safe Schools program refuse to acknowledge that the pornographic imagery is negatively effecting Australian children. Spokeswoman for Parents Victoria, Gail McHardy, even attempted to shame parents into accepting the new material, using the ‘it could be worse’ argument:
But Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy said children today were exposed to “far more explicit materials”.
“There is no shame in any of this teaching material. To suggest otherwise is wicked and potentially detrimental to students’ health and wellbeing,” she said.
However, first-hand evidence contradicts McHardy’s claims. According to parents, children are not happy with the program, and many experience internal conflict upon being presented with the information.
One dad claimed his daughter, in grade 2 at an inner-east public primary school, became uncomfortable around boys after being shown drawings of genitalia in class.
“She didn’t want to go swimming because the boys had their tops off. We never had a problem before and then all of a sudden she did,” he said.
Despite the opposition of concerned parents, the government has refused to overhaul the program, saying that it is age-appropriate and ‘optional’. But as in the case of other ‘optional’ government programs, it seems likely that the material will find a way around parental dissent and into the hands and mind of the youth.