Friday, May 28, 2010

Making Innocence a Myth

A recent 5-day study by Dr Mindy Blaise has received surprisingly little media attention, considering the nature of the research and the age of the subjects.

The Monash University researcher spent 5 days in a conveniently unnamed Victorian childcare centre trying to gauge the sexual knowledge and views of the 3-4 year olds at the centre. Blaise asked the children questions like, “Are you a flirt?” and “Have you ever kissed a boy?” Presumably, Blaise had to explain the word ‘flirt’ to the children. I doubt it is in the vocabulary of most toddlers.

Blaise believes childhood innocence is a myth (wishful thinking, perhaps?) and says she intentionally brought a topic into the preschool that adults usually ignore. She has since defended her work, stating that she was just raising issues that children are already discussing in childcare and kindy. So first she’s discussing topics that are being ignored and now she’s discussing topics that are already being discussed. It’s hard to know what to believe, but if the topic is usually ignored, that is probably because it doesn’t exist in the minds of 3 year olds.

She asked the children to comment on a picture of two crocodiles kissing and when one little girl concluded that one crocodile was a boy and the other a girl, Blaise concurred that the child's views were heterosexual. Seriously.

Psychologists and family groups had something to say about the research, with Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, one of Australia’s leading child psychologists, weighing into the debate, "It's part of the general adultification of children. Why the hell can't we just let children be children?"

Apparently, the parent’s consent was given. They would not have given consent to a random stranger to question their child’s sexual knowledge (in fact, they would doubtless have called the police), but they happily gave it to an academic. However, the difference between one’s child being asked questions of a sexual nature by an academic and being asked by a stranger on the street is non-existent because the effect is the same. To use Carr-Gregg’s term, the “adultification of children” occurs regardless of who asks the question.

Is it just me, or are parents far too quick to forfeit their responsibilities these days? Do they really think that allowing a stranger to probe their children with sex-related questions at the age of three will make the birds and the bees talk any easier when they’re 12? Chances are the kid won’t need it anyway. By 12, they’ll probably know more than the parents.

Blaise’s article appeared in the March 2010 edition of the Australasian Journal of Early Childhood which featured other articles about bringing the subject of sexuality into the early childhood educational setting. Considering the vast number of 3-4 year olds who have spent time in institutionalised care in the past decade, and the plummeting rate of literacy in primary schools across the nation, one might have thought simple phonics theory to be a more useful discussion topic for the esteemed Journal.

Kiss and tell: Gendered narratives and childhood sexuality; Australasian Journal of Early Childhood – Volume 35 No 1 March 2010, pp. 1–9

© Eva Whiteley 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Sex Files

A current project of Marie Stopes International is the Sex Files, a study that collects information from teens about their sexual health views and what they want from healthcare providers and the Government.

The goal, says Jill Michelson, National Clinical Advisor for Marie Stopes International, is to collect the views of hundreds of youths, compile it and present it to the Government for appropriate legislation and funding amendments.

But the introduction to the Sex Files survey, which asks “as many young people as possible… to jump online and record their thoughts on all things S-E-X related”, sounds more like an advertisement for a part in a porn movie.

Among the leading questions in their Sex Files introduction, the authors ask if access to sexual health options would be easier with one’s own Medicare card. (Read: Do you need to hide the fact that you're sexually active from you parents?")

Sharing a Medicare card with one’s parents is a small safeguard for many teens who might otherwise procure contraceptives or even an abortion without the consent or knowledge of their parents. Requiring this consent means many teenagers will need to discuss these topics with people who care about them. Not just the abortionist or staffer at the local clinic.

It should be remembered that Marie Stopes is Australia’s leading abortion provider. Killing unborn babies is their bread and butter so it is imperative to their financial survival that Australians are having sex, contracepting that sex and then aborting any resulting ‘mistakes’. It is important for them to maintain the sex lives of today's teenagers because it is they who will be pouring funds into the Marie Stopes kitty for the next half century.

If plummeting fertility rates are anything to go by, Marie Stopes and team are successfully educating the next generation to believe that pregnancy is – like swine flu – an illness to be avoided.

Last August, Jill Michelson got Marie Stopes’ name in the paper with some outrageous claims about pregnancy and child-bearing, so that use of the RU486 drug in their facilities could be broadened.

"We argued that pregnancy is a condition that may be both serious and life-threatening in particular circumstances," she said.

“What is undeniable is the fact that the risk to a pregnant woman of induced abortion is much less than the risk of continuing a pregnancy through to delivery at term. And we argued that continuance of pregnancy would ... also involve greater risk of injury to the physical and mental health of the pregnant woman, and a substantial risk that if pregnancy were not terminated and a child were born, the child would suffer from such physical and mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped."

This must be news to every woman who has suffered from abortion related mental-ilness. And news too for the hundreds of women who safely give birth every day in Australia.

The Sex Files will be released in September, but a mid-survey media release became available last month for National Youth Week.

© Eva Whiteley 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cause to Celebrate?

On Mother's Day (ironically), the Pill turned 50 and it’s taken a while for the mainstream media to publish any bad news about the golden calf of the sexual revolution, but this week – if you searched hard enough – you could find a couple of reports that made it to print and demonstrated why the Pill’s claim to an anniversary celebration is more than a little dubious.

From Germany came fresh research that indicated a link between the Pill, lowered female libido and general sexual dysfunction. It’s not the first study to reveal this link but came at a less than convenient time for Pill backers who’d rather us think the oral contraceptive has brought about unfettered sexual liberation for women.(1)

From the Pew Research Center in the US came a study which indicates that more unplanned pregnancies occur now than 50 years ago, with 41% of children born in 2008 in the US being born out of wedlock.(2) Back before the Pill the figure was 1 in 20, or 5%.

And as if she had just read Humane Vitae and decided it was right, 70s sex symbol Raquel Welch issued her synopsis on the Pill and society to CNN. While admitting that the Pill has enabled women to delay having children, Welch came down hard on the Pill’s contribution to today’s promiscuous society.

Having lived through the past 5 decades with the Pill and having married four times, Welch apparently feels qualified to speak of the “sea change in moral values” that she has seen in America’s demographic over the past half century.

“I'm ashamed to admit that I myself have been married four times,” she wrote. “And yet I still feel that [marriage] is the cornerstone of civilization, an essential institution that stabilizes society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy.”(3)

So, dear mainstream media, it seems not everyone considers the Pill’s 50th anniversary a cause for celebration.

© Eva Whiteley 2010

(1) Harald Seeger, Ph.D., researcher, University Hospital Tuebingen, Germany; May 4, 2010, Journal of Sexual Medicine (online)
(2) Pew Research Center, The New Demography of American Motherhood, accessed 12-05-2010
(3) Raquel Welch, It’s Sex O’Clock in America, May 9, 2010,CNN online, accessed 12-05-2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Submission for the Paid Parental Leave Scheme Bill

On 18 March, the Senate released the exposure draft of the Government’s proposed Paid Parental Leave scheme to the Community Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 3 June 2010. Concerned citizens were given until May 11 to comment.

Out of the nearly 50 submissions received by the evening of May 11, the overwhelming majority challenged the unjust nature of a scheme which seeks to drive mothers into the workforce within 18 weeks of giving birth, denying a child its inherent right to one-on-one care by a person whose interest in the child's welfare is not vested in a paycheck.

We await the Government's response.

Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Committee
Regarding: Paid Parental Leave Scheme Bill 2010

Back in February when Abbott attempted to trump the Governments proposed Paid Parental Leave scheme, spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Australian Women, Marie Coleman praised the move, believing Australia lags behind the international community’s standard for paid leave and that six months is the minimum required after the birth of a new baby.

"Indeed the scientific data on child development and the need for parental bonding would suggest that 12 months would be ideal," Coleman said.


Despite Unicef’s recent warning that placing a baby in childcare before the age of 1 can lead to aggressive and anti-social behavior during primary school, the Government continues to award women who return to work and ignores the needs of the majority who choose to stay at home with their children.

According to leading child psychologist and parenting author, Steve Biddulph, children under the age of 3 should not be placed in institutionalized childcare, but should remain in the care of a close relative, as formal or institutionalized daycare situations can lead to separation anxiety, emotional vulnerability and stress.

So the Government continues to ignore the mounting evidence in favour of full-time parent-administered childcare during the formative years. And the Government continues to ignore the 79% of 18-34 year olds who, in a recent Galaxy poll, voted for equal funding for all mothers.

Considering that unwaged mothers represent the majority of those who receive financial assistance in the child-rearing years, one might have expected the Government to be slightly more concerned about where their votes are coming from.

Please abandon this discriminatory and detrimental scheme in favour of a universal childcare endowment which assists all families equally.

© Eva Whiteley 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Abortion - Depression Link... again

Yet another study has linked history of abortion with substance abuse and depression.

Findings from the University of Manitoba study, published in the latest edition of the Canadian Journal of Psychology, suggest a striking association between abortion and both mental disorders and substance abuse.

The study was flawed in that it did not look at other contributing factors or question if the woman experienced depression and substance abuse prior to an abortion, but the raw figures suggest a strong association. Out of over 3000 women, 25% of those who admitted to having had an abortion reported substance abuse or depression, compared to 7% for women with no history of abortion.

The author has cautioned against using the study’s findings as conclusive evidence that abortion is psychologically disturbing, instead urging clinicians to screen for depressive disorders for women who request an abortion.

Certainly taken with the numerous other studies with similar findings produced in the last decade, one might be forgiven for thinking this study might actually be quite accurate.

© Eva Whiteley 2010