Birmingham, United Kingdom—More than 100 people gathered to discuss the challenging influences that are impacting children and young people in modern society.
The discussion, which was jointly organized by UPF and its affiliated organization Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), was held in the home of UPF-Birmingham leaders David and Patricia Earle on July 18, 2019.
The number of attendees, both young and old, reflected the genuine concern felt by so many regarding Internet safety, pornography, the impact of government-mandated sex education on small children, and other related topics.
Among the audience were a number of Muslim friends, particularly from the UK Islamic Mission and Clifton Road Mosque community, as well as several people from the Somali and Yemeni communities. They and many others come from countries and communities where the traditional two-parent family is still very highly valued, and they expressed their concerns about the liberal agenda being thrust upon younger children in the name of equality and human rights.
We began with a short presentation about Internet safety from Naeema and Shabina, two young women from the Muslim community, who have done a lot of research into this area. They asked the parents if they were familiar with the influence that the social media have on children. They highlighted some of the ways in which parents can be more aware and make things safer for their children, and gave out valuable information both during and after the meeting.
Shreen Mahmood, the CEO of the not-for-profit organization Muslim Connect, gave a PowerPoint presentation about the U.K. government's Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) materials, which will be compulsory in both primary and secondary schools in September 2020. She highlighted how schools must develop their own RSE policy and curriculum, working together with and consulting with parents on these matters. She encouraged parents to get involved individually or as a group, to make sure they are comfortable with what will be taught and the kind of resources that will be used, particularly as the government is removing parents' right of withdrawal from this highly sensitive area. (www.StopRSE.com)
The third speaker, UPF-Birmingham leader David Earle, spoke first about the international dimension of pornography. He also spoke about the aggressive Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) agenda which has been thrust upon the United Nations. In some cases, nations are threatened with the withdrawal of aid if they do not agree to implement CSE in their education system!
Again, under the banner of equality and human rights, CSE promotes the sexualization of young people rather than modesty, immediate self-gratification rather than restraint, and an individualistic rather than a family-based lifestyle.
David Earle recommended a shocking 11-minute video, summarizing the above, which can be found on the website www.schoolgatecampaign.org. It details how a so-called evidence-based agenda is, in fact, based on the work of one individual, the American sexologist Dr. Alfred Kinsey, whose work in the 1940s and 1950s has been shown to be fundamentally flawed, e.g., using biased figures in his statistical analysis from a higher than average number of homosexuals, as well as prostitutes and convicted criminals. (See the link referenced at the end of this report.)
David Earle went on to speak about a character education curriculum offered to many countries at a summit meeting in Senegal last year. It helps young people to reflect on what it means to become a good person, finding the right balance between one’s individual purpose in life and one’s purpose in relation to others: family, community, society and nation. It also emphasizes the central importance of the family in society, explaining that children's love, siblings’ love, conjugal love and parental love all progressively build on one another, ideally leading us to relate to people in society with true friendship and respect, motivated by a heart that wants to live for the sake of others. It places sexuality, trust and true freedom firmly within the framework of the family, and argues that family-building is nation-building. It then becomes clear that the forces that sexualize and individualize people are potentially destructive and will fragment society.
Patricia Earle then opened the floor for questions and comments, which led to a number of passionate contributions, particularly from concerned mothers, some of whom have children in Birmingham schools, which have become the center of controversy. We concluded with a general consensus that:
- In some cases, schools have introduced controversial materials, especially in primary schools, with little or no consultation with parents, resulting in mistrust and public protest.
- Some materials being used in primary schools are wholly inappropriate for children as young as 4, 5 and 6 years old, both because of the actual content and because no framework of values is provided to guide children’s understanding.
- Removing parents’ right to withdraw their children, given the sensitivities involved, has only added to the controversy.
- While one of the aims of RSE has been to create a more “inclusive” society, the actual outcome is potentially fragmenting and divisive, causing difficulties between children and their parents, and between parents and the schools.
The discussion could have continued much longer, given the strength of feelings in the audience, but we concluded by having student Viola Dirnhofer sing for us, bringing a calming influence, before a final announcement about the Young Women's Speech Contest on August 28. The participants continued their discussions informally over refreshments. All in all, it was a very productive evening. Thanks to all who participated and made a contribution.