In an anti-obesity drive, we are told that the government now plans to impose a pre-9pm ban on TV advertisements for junk food high in sugar, salt and fat. Ads for chocolate, burgers, soft drinks, cakes, sweets, ice cream, biscuits, sweetened juices, crisps, chips, and pizzas will all, therefore, have to go, along with anything else generally classified as ‘yummy’ by the nation’s young.
Heaven forfend, no more chicken nuggets or battered fish! How on earth will they manage on Corrie?
The reason for the proposed ban is simple. As a nation we have grown fat. In fact, according to the NHS, 60% of the population is now overweight or obese – and this has, they tell us, got to stop, because the nation is facing a veritable epidemic of diabetes, coronary heart disease, cancer, kidney failure etc, etc, all of which could be avoided.
And children especially, given their total inability to regulate consumption and choose healthy alternatives, have got to be protected. Hence the clampdown on said advertisements, because the government wants to build a safe environment.
Health groups are reportedly euphoric, with Caroline Cerny of the Obesity Health Alliance
commenting, “This hugely welcome news shows that the Government is serious about putting our nation’s health first.”
Which at one level, perhaps, is highly commendable. After all, we all want the nation’s young to be protected from damaging temptation and kept healthy, don’t we? But why, in this climate of obsessive, and often excess, concern for safeguarding, are there not similar fears for other, potentially even more damaging, areas of harm?
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Sad to say, the current approach seems contradictory, because on the one hand the government says it wants to shield children from temptation. Yet on the other, from age 3 onwards, it insists on bombarding them with graphic and sexually explicit teaching that not just acclimatises them to promiscuity, but encourages them to try behaviours that, in any other setting, would justifiably be classified as pornographic.
From before puberty, children today are being taught that sex is their right and that it is ‘great’ – as soon as they feel ready and so long as their partner consents. And they are taught that any kind of sex is good, be it vaginal, oral, anal, or anything thing else their imagination can conceive, and that even if something doesn’t work for them, they have to be tolerant and accept the proclivities of others without judgement, because that’s what it means to be ‘inclusive’.
But the result of this libertarian paeon to sexual emancipation is not the joyous and unfettered celebration of life that we were assured by Kinsey and others would follow, once society was freed from the patriarchal judgementalism of Christianity, but a generation of emotionally maimed and disease-ridden would-be sybarites, discovering too late the cost of indulgence without responsibility.
The reality is, our children are paying the price for sexual gluttony with epidemic-level rates of sexually transmitted infections and unprecedented rates of mental illness. In truth, we are not just short-changing, but damaging, children by our attempted justification and promotion of adult lifestyle choices that expose them to enormous emotional, mental and physical harm, and which they have little or no means of evaluating for themselves.
So why is there not a similar outcry for their protection in these areas, as for their consumption of harmful foods?
If it’s recognised that children can’t assess for themselves the harmful effects of eating junk food and can’t be trusted to exercise restraint, so that they must be shielded from temptation, how much more does this apply to the area of sex, with its potential for crippling and life-changing physical and mental harm?
In the normal course of things, a 5-year-old child doesn’t think about sexual reproduction or, for that matter, about self-stimulation, and they don’t have the emotional and intellectual maturity to process that kind of (over-) information. Inevitably told, therefore, that sexual indulgence is ‘normal’ and how to do it, an inquisitive child will want to apply and test the information for themselves. This, after all, is what education is all about.
Whether we’re talking about a triple Mac with extra cheese, the latest chocolate bar… or anal sex as a way of avoiding pregnancy (which is one of the things children are learning!), young people surely need to be protected from whatever causes and exposes them to harm.
So enough of this ideological hypocrisy. Teaching about sexual behaviour isn’t in a special category just because it validates adult promiscuity and irresponsibility. Harsh as it sounds, promoting such behaviours is no more than sexual abuse and grooming.
Yes, impose a pre-9pm ban on TV adverts for junk food – anything that protects children’s health has got to be good! But, if the government is really serious, it needs equally to ban teaching that prematurely sexualises children and exposes them to clear and well-documented medical harm.