Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Who benefits from "innocence?"

My post on sex-ed reminded me of the US presidential campaign in which, if I remember aright, it was alleged that Obama was in favour of sex education for 6 year olds and that this made him somehow dangerous to the moral fabric of the nation. Apparently, the aim of this subversive activity was to help children understand the concepts of "good touch" and "bad touch".

What is so wrong about that? The only people who can conceivably benefit from forbidding this are child molesters. If, in some sort of sentimental attachment to the notion of the innocence of childhood we prevent them from learning how to protect themselves from the sexual attentions of predators, how does this serve children?

I experienced some molestation at around the age of 5. It was not, as these things unfortunately go, serious but it was bad enough for me. The thing was, I felt at the time that this was "bad touch" - I did not like it- and yet was not given the power to name it as such. I thought it was just one of those things that adults did and I had simply to allow it to happen.

We do not protect children by keeping them ignorant and calling it innocence. We protect them by giving them to tools to define their own boundaries. I did not have them and consequently was not "innocent" because the shame and guilt - not to mention great anger - that I felt then lasted well into late adulthood.

The only people who lose if children are empowered with the information they need are those who seek to abuse them. I would hate to think that this underlies any of the resistance to sex education but....

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