AS A parent, I’ve long been concerned about an apparent shift towards demonising young people, holding them totally responsible for their actions when the adults around them, who should be moderating or guiding their behaviour, are failing to do their job.
So, I think we have to get the issue of inappropriate sexualised behaviour in young people into perspective: sex has always been on the agenda for young people and adults have always despaired at the behaviour of their young folk.
What has changed? Why are we in a situation where research is telling us that sexualised behaviour, intimidation and even violence, are all becoming almost commonplace? I’m not a psychologist or a sociologist but some reasons seem obvious. Sexually explicit material is accessible by anyone who wants to find it. All too often, this explicit material is also violent or at least purely about the sex act and – crucially – presents a fictional idea of what it is to be a women or a man, physically or emotionally. Relationships, love, mutual respect don’t come into it. Concepts about our bodies (and what we do with them) and attitudes to others are distorted.
Online porn is shockingly easy to access, so it’s not surprising young people begin to see all this as normal.
Regulation needs to play a part, but surely the most important thing we can do is to teach our young people about relationships, respect and acceptance of difference.
We need to talk about the difficult issues, tackling anti-social behaviour when we find it in our children and helping them understand the consequences of their choices.
Parents, teachers and others need help to do this job because it is difficult territory, yet crucially important. In my view, the cost of not doing it is too great to contemplate.