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Relationships and Sex Education: The Way Forward

A report from The Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group

On Tuesday, 11th September, the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group, chaired by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, and jointly Convened by Revd Lynda Rose, CEO of VfJUK, and Robert Harris, launched its Report on Relationships and Sex Education: The Way Forward. The Report is in response to the public consultation on Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), due to close on November 7.

Whatever the public response, the Government has insisted the proposals will be implemented between September 2019 and 2020, making Relationships Education mandatory in all Primary schools, including free and maintained schools, and Academies, and Sex and Relationships Education mandatory for all Secondary schools. However, Relationships and Sex Education: The Way Forward argues that the underlying rationale is fundamentally flawed, and will not help what everyone agrees is a major crisis in child welfare.

The Problem

Despite our best efforts the UK still has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe – and that’s even with the reported recent 9.6% drop in conceptions for girls aged 15 to 17, hailed as such a success by family planning groups. At the same time we have sky-rocketing rates of teenage STIs, classified by doctors as at epidemic level, while children as young as five are reportedly accessing pornography, and sexting and online bullying is at a record high. And despite justifiable concern over the rise in paedophile and sex grooming, figures for child sexual abuse show that one third of attacks are actually committed by other children.

The traditionally favoured remedy has been to increase sex and relationships teaching – the line the Government is now taking. As said, under the new proposals, relationships education will be mandatory for all primary schools, and relationships and sex education will be mandatory for children aged 11-18. Up until now parents have had the right to withdraw children from sex education classes, but Damian Hinds has now announced that this right is incompatible with English case law and the European Convention on Human Rights, so he is proposing to limit this to the right to request withdrawal from sex education lessons, which the Head may or may not allow. At the same time, under the new provisions, children will be held competent to make their own decisions, which can therefore again override the parental right of withdrawal.

At first glance, the rationale may seem sensible. As everyone acknowledges, the world is a very dangerous place and all of us want to keep children safe. But the problem is that SRE programmes up to now have been a disaster, not just in failing to protect children, but by actually contributing to – even causing – the very problems they’re supposed to stop. In fact, RSE appears to be prematurely sexualising children by giving them too much information, too young.

The report, Relationships and Sex Education: The Way Forward, analyses why and how RSE policy has gone wrong, arguing that current proposals are not just flawed, but highly dangerous. It suggests indeed that much of current policy is not concerned with child welfare, but is rather ideological promotion of adult behaviours. The Report suggests an alternative approach that will realistically confront the problems, while prioritising child welfare and safety.

What Are They Teaching The Children?

VfJUK’s important new book examining the ideological reframing of education in the UK, with its erosion of human rights and attendant effects on children and family life.

Publication date November 24 2016

Epidemic level STIs among teenagers; Teen pregnancy and abortion;
Porn addiction; Unprecedented rates of mental illness; Inability to form and sustain relationships … the list goes on and on!

Over the last years the UK has been witness to unprecedented cultural, social and political change as result of changing attitudes towards sexuality and gender, and the combined but often conflicting pressures of secularism and multiculturalism.

Education has reflected this shift, with the teaching of many once traditional values increasingly proscribed by law. But the policy of giving ever more information without any kind of moral frame has been a spectacular failure, and with the disintegration of what are now branded repressive values, we face a growing crisis that affects the physical, mental and emotional welfare of our young.

Topics covered include:

• What is ‘education’? What, how and why do we teach our young?
• How has education evolved in different societies, and what are the implications for us today?
• What is the role of the family in education?
• How does current education policy fit with the basic human rights of freedom of conscience, belief, and speech?
• How is education being subjected to ideological pressure?
• Detailed analysis of the impact of SRE (Sex and Relationship Education) and so-called ‘inclusivity’ on children and young people.

MAGNA CARTA UNRAVELLED

THE CASE FOR CHRISTIAN FREEDOMS TODAY

Magna Carta Unravelled: launch of the book from our March conference celebrating Magna Carta

On the evening of 15th June – to coincide with the anniversary of the sealing of the Charter 800 hundred years ago – in the House of Lords and hosted by baroness Cox, VfJUK launched our new book.

Published in conjunction with Wilberforce Publications, it contains expanded versions of the talks given at conference, with two vital additions. First, a chapter on the history and background to Magna Carta from lawyer and historian Philip Quenby, and, second, a chapter on the application of Sharia law in the UK by Baroness Cox.

Magna Carta is not only one of the most celebrated documents in British history, but stands as a foundation of political and religious freedom throughout the world. Yet today our ancient liberties are under severe attack, as controversial issues of religious freedoms, human rights, equality legislation and freedom of speech become increasingly subject to challenge.

Magna Carta Unravelled analyses in depth the development of what we know as human rights today, together with the growing restrictions on those rights from the ideological challenge posed by secularism. In today’s climate of moral redefinition, it suggests a way forward.

A must read for anyone concerned with the issue of human rights!

Praise for the book!

“As one essayist puts it, ‘We need to be much more honest about where we have come from and where we are going.’ These essays are frank, lucid and stimulating sources for reflection; and are helpful encouragements to further inquiries and to work for sensible remedies before it is too late.”
John Finnis, Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy Emeritus, University of Oxford

“Magna Carta continues to compel Christian people to fearlessly explore what makes for human flourishing in a liberal democracy. Any wake-up call — such as this book — is rarely comfortable, occasionally inconvenient, always unsettling; but the issues discussed, of conscience, belief and freedom, refuse to be silenced.”
HH Judge David Turner QC

“At a time when secular humanism is so energetically seeking to undermine the Judaeo-Christian values of our culture, this book presents a brilliant and robust statement of the continuing significance of Magna Carta.”
Dennis Wrigley, Founder of The Maranatha Community

“This book emphasises the relationship between the dignity of our democratic traditions and the religious liberty of our citizens. It is a timely reminder of the proper limits of the power of the state and deserves to be studied widely.”
The Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester

“This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the basis and origins of human rights and a penetrating examination of the contemporary battle between secularism, Islam and Christianity. It is essential reading for all concerned at the loss of traditional freedoms and the future implications.”
Rev Dr Clifford Hill, Issachar Ministries

Stolen Childhood

A report from The Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group

We are failing our children! We live in one of the most affluent societies the world has ever known, yet morally and emotionally our children have never been more at risk. Half of all children today are born outside marriage, and increasingly couples are taking the view that ‘legal’ recognition and sanction is irrelevant.For those that do marry, by the time a child reaches 15, 42% of all marriages will have ended in divorce, while non-married partners are four times more likely to have split than their married counterparts. The reality is then that over 50% of children will never know the reassurance of a stable home life with their birth mother and father.

Add to that the growing social pressures on children, reinforced by education, to have sex from an increasingly early age without adequate warning of the dangers, and it is small wonder that mental health problems and suicide rates among the young have reached an all-time high.

The inescapable truth is that we are raising a generation of dysfunctional and unhappy children, prioritising adult ‘sexual wants’ over child ‘needs’ – causing irreparable damage that steals their childhood.

The Report ‘Stolen Childhood’ examines the reality of the crisis from three perspectives.

Demographics of Disaster – Writer and Researcher, Patricia Morgan, charts the unprecedented rise in family breakdown this century, and its devastating effect, not just on children, but on all concerned.

The Impact of Family Breakdown: The Father’s Voice – Chris Muewanguzi, CEO of Family Matters Institute, highlights the often overlooked damage caused by the loss of family to men.

Mental Health in Britain’s Young – Clinical Psychologist, Dr Josephine-Joy Wright, charts the growing rise in mental illness and suicide among young people as direct result of family breakdown.

Is There A Case for Same-Sex Marriage?

Questions of Eligibility and Consequences

A new study of extensive world-wide research published today concludes that government plans to introduce same sex marriage (SSM) legislation in the near future are based on false premises and a deeply flawed understanding of both conventional marriage and gay relationships.

“The long-term impact of such legislation on our children’s up-bringing, on our health and welfare and on our liberties enshrined in law has not been acknowledged by SSM proponents,” says author R S Harris, “nor in its rush has the government encouraged proper debate around these vital issues.”

The study, which comprises secular argument and research and is non-religious in approach, is published by Anglican Mainstream (AM), the UK-based online information resource for the global Anglican Communion, and Voice for Justice UK, a new campaigning group for civil and religious liberties. It is the first of its kind in the UK and is commended by a number of public and political figures, including the former Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern.

“Our report is unashamedly academic and educational,” said AM’s Chris Sugden, “but it is full of hard-hitting facts and evidence against gay marriage that SSM proponents dare not face and try to avoid.”

In view of the government’s impending announcement of gay-marriage legislation this week, the report is being mailed today to all members of both Houses of Parliament and also to over 350 chairmen of Conservative constituency associations, the majority of whom are opposed to the legislation according to surveys. Polling by ComRes has found that seven in ten Tory constituency chairmen want David Cameron to drop the proposal; six in ten believe it will lose their party more votes than it will gain and nearly five in ten report a loss of association members over the issue.

“We want to strengthen the Tory grassroots opposition and give them further research and reasons to reinforce their dissent,” said Chris Sugden. “The study will make compelling Christmas reading for them.”

Commendations for 'Is There A Case for Same-Sex Marriage?'

This is a full balanced account of the argument against opening the institution of marriage to same sex couples. I commend it to all who are concerned about this vitally important question. The reader will be able to reach a conclusion on this issue confident that it is based on a thorough analysis and not dependent on any view he or she has previously formed.
The Rt Hon the Lord Mackay of Clashfern KT, former Lord Chancellor of Great Britain

This is in the great tradition of British pamphlets – clear in its exposition, convincing in its arguments, it should be required reading for every politician, especially those well-intentioned leaders whose insufficiently thought out proposals could have the unintended consequence of undermining the very bedrock of our still stable family-based society.
The Lord Cormack DL

R. S. Harris has been nothing if not thorough in his description and analysis of the issue of same-sex marriage. He points to the uniqueness of marriage as a publicly undertaken relationship between a man and woman for life and to the exclusion of all others. He shows how other relationships, whatever their value, should not be confused with marriage nor can it be said that the benefits of marriage would accrue to these relationships if they were. He considers the question of identity and cautions against confusing inclinations and desires with fundamental questions about who we are and what we are here for. His work makes for compelling reading and his opponents have a lot of questions to answer.
The Rt Revd Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester and former Member of the House of Lords; President of OXTRAD

Those in the “uncertain middle” who do not wish to incur the intimidation of activists for “gay” marriage, find it more comfortable to declare an ambivalent or agnostic position on the matter. R. S. Harris’s comprehensive and evidence-based study argues that “equal marriage” fails the eligibility test for marriage and so is not discriminatory. His discussion on the related issues of children, and the legal position facing the churches will be illuminating for those not afraid to examine the evidence with an open mind.
Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary, Anglican Mainstream; Member of the General Synod of the Church of England

There is a disturbing, and growing, tendency to accuse those who oppose same-sex marriage of bigotry and prejudice, thereby intimidating them into silence, and effectively shutting down debate. In this study, the author reopens the discussion by spelling out, in clear and considered terms, why homosexual relationships are intrinsically different from heterosexual ones, and that the concept of same-sex marriage is in essence a category error.
Prudence Dailey, Lay Member of the General Synod of the Church of England

The support of same-sex marriage by our political leaders has almost inhibited reasoned discourse around this complex and sensitive issue. So this well-researched and measured publication is a timely contribution which offers light rather than heat with well-documented information. I commend it especially to those with open minds who believe in democratic debate and want to hear both sides of the argument.
The Baroness Cox, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords

Marriage for me is a sacrament and a union between a man and a woman. This is an important part of my religious belief as a practising Catholic. The attempt to redefine marriage would have serious consequences for family life and indeed society. R. S. Harris has written a well balanced and thoughtful defence of marriage and I recommend this work as part of the wider debate that is taking place.
Jim Dobbin MP, Member for Heywood and Middleton

Healthy Parliamentary Government requires that those proposing legislation know that they will face robustly argued opposition. It is therefore thoroughly unhealthy that in the matter of ‘Equal Civil Marriage’ there is so remarkable a degree of consensus between the political Parties, not only in support of the proposal, but in the apparent conviction that nothing can intelligently and decently be said against it. So I warmly welcome ‘Is there a case for same-sex marriage?’ as a comprehensive and extensively-referenced contribution to the debate; and I hope that responsible Parliamentarians will read it and weigh its arguments.
The Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, former Bishop of Winchester; former Member of the House of Lords

R. S. Harris does an uncommon thing; he brings reason into the ever present debate about the meaning of marriage and family. He debunks the argument often made that anyone opposed to same-sex marriage is bigoted. He explains the distinctive nature of marriage, and in so doing, demonstrates there is no compelling reason to redefine the institution…If we are serious about the future of our society and especially the future of our children, we would do well to carefully consider this well-written and cogent essay.
Prof Dale Kuehne, Richard L. Bready Chair of Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good, Saint Anselm College, New Hampshire;
Founding Director, New Hampshire Institute of Politics

Important decisions about socially significant matters deserve very careful attention, and should come only after full and well-informed public debate. Here is a significant contribution to the debate. This well researched survey sets out in a measured and balanced way a range of considerations that should cause hesitation in UK political circles about the headlong rush to introduce gay marriage. It is not too late to press the pause button!
Prof John Nolland, Trinity College, Bristol

This is a well-researched, balanced, comprehensive and marvellous study. I found it most useful in collecting my arguments together and getting so much great information on the whole background in an infinitely fair and extraordinarily well-reasoned way. It puts paid to those arguments made by same-sex marriage advocates which we thought were so convincing. The six essential components of marriage listed and explained by the author are a powerful argument that makes it absolutely clear that civil partnerships can in no way be deemed to be marriage. This study needs to be read by a wide audience.
The Baroness O’Cathain OBE

For some this study will not make for comfortable reading, but it ought to be read and studied by all. R. S. Harris very carefully appraises and challenges the arguments of those who seek to change the traditional understanding of marriage and its nature. I would encourage the wide circulation of, and proper engagement with, his careful analysis of the wide range of issues involved in a matter which will have implications for our whole society and its future.
The Rt Revd Dr Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter

An important contribution that highlights that this issue is far more complex than at first imagined, and cannot, solely, be decided on the idealism of a few. Whatever one’s position, Harris aptly demonstrates that the sensitivity of this issue may have been wholly underestimated by some members of the political-class and that formal equality is by no means an easy concept to grasp.
Dr. Abhijit Pandya, Daily Mail blogger; Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Studies;
former Teaching Fellow at the London School of Economics

The quality of this research underpins a clear and objective presentation of the case for true marriage. Here is a compelling argument that the campaign to redefine it is pregnant with serious consequences for future generations. Children have an absolute right to the optimum environment for their emotional and social well-being. This study reaffirms the conviction that human dignity is particularly respected in the Christian understanding of marriage and is ‘never in conflict with reverence for the Divine.’ (Joseph Ratzinger) We are indebted to R. S. Harris for his timely publication as a reminder of the prophetic warning that families ‘will be the first victims of the evils that they have done no more than note with indifference.’ (Pope John Paul II Familiaris Consortio n44)”
Edmund P. Adamus, Director for Marriage and Family Life, Archdiocese of Westminster

An excellent, valuable and fearless examination of the issues raised. It should be compulsory reading for all involved!
Revd Lynda Rose, Director, Voice for Justice UK

I commend this study because of its thorough treatment of the issues involved in the current debate. It has been well researched and documented and, on the evidence presented, its conclusions merit measured consideration by all.
Guy Hordern MBE JP

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