Saturday, 7 September 2013

Daily Telegraph sex ed campaign is misleading parents

The Daily Telegraph's campaign calling for school lessons about the dangers of pornography is misleading, according to SPUC's Safe at School campaign, which supports and advises parents whose children are subjected to unacceptable sex education in school.

Antonia Tully, national co-ordinator of Safe at School, told the media earlier today:
“What the Daily Telegraph campaign doesn't say is what will actually be taught in schools. My fear is that parents, and many people who have signed their petition, don't realise that current proposals for teaching children and teenagers about pornography are not about warning them of the dangers.

The influential Sex Education Forum has published an online magazine showing teachers how to introduce children and teenagers to pornography. These lesson ideas are not about teaching children and teenagers about how to avoid pornography, but normalising it.

The prime minister has pointed to the fact that most internet access among children takes place at home. This means that parents are literally best placed to protect their children from pornography. The Daily Telegraph campaign is calling for so-called sex education 'experts' to teach children. It's time to recognise that parents are the experts when it comes to their own children.”
David Cameron has rejected The Telegraph's call for sex education guidelines to be withdrawn, saying that “teachers can talk about porn within the existing guidelines”.

Safe at School has said that any change to the sex education guidelines could be extremely dangerous in the light of the Sex Education Forum's proposals for the inclusion of pornography in sex education.

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Thursday, 5 September 2013

SPUC challenges CPS decision not to prosecute sex-selective abortionists

SPUC's general secretray and senior political officer Paul Tully has sent me the folllowing commentary:
The announcement by the Crown Prosecution Service that it is not going to charge doctors for offering ‘sex-selection’ abortion smacks of a politically influenced decision.

There is little appetite in the pro-life movement for vindictive prosecution of doctors or others who kill babies, but we should expect the rule of law to be upheld, fairly and justly.

The CPS’ decision that it is not ‘in the public interest’ to bring charges is clearly wrong by at least six of the seven points in its code of practice, The Code for Crown Prosecutors, CPS, Jan 2013.  This spells out (section 4.12) seven questions to help determine whether a prosecution is in the public interest. How do they apply in this case?

Here are the questions, with my comments:

“a) How serious is the offence committed?”
These doctors planned to kill children. Whether charged under the law on abortion or the law on child destruction, the crime carries a life sentence. It is among the most serious crimes on the statute book. 

“b) What is the level of culpability of the suspect?”
The suspects (the doctors) in these cases were professionally trained, and were evidently prepared to falsify statutory declarations (abortion registration forms) to achieve their purpose. It is hard to think of any situation where a higher degree of culpability could be shown.

“c) What are the circumstances of and the harm caused to the victim?”
The intended victims would technically have been ‘under the care’ of the doctors aborting them; and the harm intended was to kill them.

“d) Was the suspect under 18?”

“e) What is the impact on the community?”
A lack of prosecution may suggest to the communities that seek sex-selection abortions that they can continue breaking the law with impunity (see The Telegraph report "The abortion of unwanted girls taking place in the UK").

“f) Is prosecution a proportionate response?”
The Code for Crown Prosecutors makes clear in its explanatory notes that the concern here is that some prosecutions are very expensive to mount, involve complex crimes like fraud, and take months and months in court.  None of that seems likely to apply here.

“g) Do the sources of information require protecting?”
The sources of key information are named journalists who published the story in the national press – of course they don’t need protecting. While clearly wrong, the decision is less hypocritical than the faux prosecution of Dr Anthony Hamilton in 1980, who was charged with attempted murder (but not abortion or child destruction) after aborting a disabled baby well over the legal time limit which then prevailed.  The prosecution failed, predictably, for lack of evidence of intent to commit murder.


In the more detailed notes, under question (c) the Code says:
Prosecutors must also have regard to whether the offence was  motivated by any form of discrimination against the victim’s  ethnic or national origin, gender, disability, age, religion or  belief, sexual orientation or gender identity; or the suspect  demonstrated hostility towards the victim based on any of  those characteristics. The presence of any such motivation  or hostility will mean that it is more likely that prosecution is required.
Does hostility toward a baby girl, motivated explicitly by her gender, and perhaps also by her age, not merit prosecution in this situation?

The fact that the child is in her mother’s womb makes a difference in the eyes of the law, but not for the doctor who must kill her either surgically (by means such as dismemberment), or more commonly now, by use of chemical agents.
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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Advertising Standards Authority accused of gross interference in political free speech

SPUC has accused the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of "gross interference in political free speech", following a ruling issued today against an advertisement opposing same-sex marriage.

The ASA's ruling applies to an advertisement published earlier this year by SPUC, which predicted some of the negative consequences govermment's Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill (now Act) 2013.

SPUC's advertisement warned that "gay relationships will be promoted in schools" and that "NHS-endorsed websites, which promote high-risk sexual practices, will be mainstreamed in secondary schools". The ASA has deemed the advertisement "misleading", taking issue with the words 'promoted' and 'NHS-endorsed'.

SPUC stands by every word we included in the advertisment.

As I told the press today:
This ruling is ridiculous. It is based on semantics, as if it was an exercise in proper English usage totally removed from what will happen in practice as the bill is implemented. Are we to receive a list of acceptable adverbs and adjectives?

There is no logic to the ASA's conclusion. The ASA fails to address the whole rationale of the Bill - that there is to be equality between same-sex and different-sex marriage. If it is 'misleading' to state that same-sex marriage will be promoted, then it must be also be 'misleading' to say that different-sex marriage will be promoted.

The ASA's position is fatuous. Is the ASA going to monitor how the legislation works in practice? The ASA should not seek to police the public debate about forthcoming legislation.

SPUC has cited the conflict of interest at the top of the ASA, which is chaired by Lord (Chris) Smith, the former Labour minister and prominent homosexual, who is also chairman of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. It is axiomatic that an organisation’s   chairman will take a direct interest in its affairs. It is just too simplistic to say that the issue of bias is addressed by stating that Lord Smith took no part in this ruling. The complaints, the decision to select them for consideration and the ruling itself are plainly consistent with Lord Smith’s political views. The ASA, with or without Lord Smith’s direct involvement, is well aware of those views and of where he stands in the debate. In no other sphere would this be considered acceptable or consistent with the absence of actual or perceived bias. If the ASA intends to seek to police the political debate, then common sense dictates that it cannot be run by a politician.

The ASA said that SPUC's advertisement was "misleading" in describing third-party websites listed on the NHS website as "NHS-endorsed". The NHS website carried no disclaimer regarding the third-party websites. If a group posted a link to a third-party site offering bomb-making advice, the police would not excuse the group on the basis that it was not responsible for the third-party site.

It is dispiriting that in an area of fundamental free speech we have been reduced to debating semantics with an organisation who believe that politics can be reduced to measurable objectivity, as if it was a spat between Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Advertising is not our business and in the future we would certainly question the wisdom of engaging with the ASA on any level.

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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Telegraph campaign for better sex ed “a slap in the face for parents” says leading parent advocacy group

The “Telegraph Wonder Women” campaign for better sex education is a slap in the face for every parent in
this country, said Antonia Tully of Safe at School, a campaign of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children which supports and advises parents facing unacceptable sex education in their children's schools. Antonia told the press today that:
“Children and teenagers accessing online pornography is a growing problem which urgently needs to be addressed, but I have no confidence that including pornography in updated sex education, as the NSPCC recommends, will make young people safer” .
Antonia continued:
“The NSPCC is a member of the Sex Education Forum (SEF) which has published an online magazine about how to teach school pupils about pornography. The content of the SEF magazine makes it abundantly clear that pornography lessons will not be about how to avoid pornography. These lessons are all about dangling pornography in front of teenagers with the absurd expectation that aroused adolescents will calmly analyse whether the images they are looking are “real” or photo-shopped. This madness will drive teenagers further into pornography.”
Claire Perry MP, an adviser to David Cameron on “preventing commercialisation and sexualisation” of children, is calling for government guidelines on teaching sex education to be redrawn. The current guidelines on sex and relationships education include numerous references to the importance of involving parents in teaching children about sexual issues. Safe at School believes that the government should be emphasising these guidelines and supporting parents, particularly in teaching their children about how to avoid pornography.

Mrs Tully said:
“Parents have been systematically side-lined on sex education and have been made to feel that they are too stupid and inadequate to talk to their own children about sexual issues. No wonder, according to The Daily Telegraph, school children are three times more likely to go online for advice on sex and relationships rather than their parents.”
SPUC Safe at School launched a nationwide petition in July calling on the Secretary of State for Education to prohibit the promotion of pornography in schools.

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