CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Blurring the AIDS Message

Aug 30, 1994

A new Federal Government-sponsored pamphlet on how to talk to children about AIDS has been released by Family Planning Victoria. The pamphlet is titled, Talking to Kids about AIDS: For Parents and Caregivers of Children Under 10 Years.

The author. Peter Gourlay, says the pamphlet is aimed at helping adults talk to five to 10-year-olds about AIDS. We are told it should be read in conjunction with another pamphlet, Talking to Kids About Sex.

The claim is that children need reassurance and information about AIDS which will lead to “understanding, acceptance and support”. Parents may rightly be asking, “Why do five to 10-year-oids need all this information in the first place?”

The pamphlet suggests that since children are becoming more sexually aware and active at earlier ages, better to prepare them now. But we don’t teach children the best way to drive drunk, on the assumption that they’re going to do it anyway. And why must we assume little six-year-old Johnny is a sexual dynamo? Whatever happened to a child’s natural innocence? Why cannot children be allowed to remain children before passing into the rigors of adulthood?

Moreover, sex education, because it deals with relationships, should deal with values. To simply dispense technical information about reproduction without a framework of values is a recipe for disaster.

Further. when describing how people can become infected with the AIDS virus, it does not mention the most likely way, namely, homosexual sex. Instead. it says “HIV does not care if you are young or old, male or female, heterosexual or homosexual”.

That is true, but it is also misleading, given the overwhelming preponderance of homosexual activity in the transmission of AIDS. To talk about the spread of AIDS without mentioning homosexuality is a bit like talking about lung cancer without emphasising cigarette smoking.

Government figures show that 91 per cent of people diagnosed with HIV are male. Also, the majority of those with HIV acquired it through homosexual/bisexual contact.

If the purpose of the exercise is to reduce the number of people being infected with AIDS, then why not talk about chastity as the best means of avoiding AIDS?

The pamphlet goes on to recommend that you “leave some books and pamphlets around the house”. One title suggested is Two Weeks With the Queen, a “fun but sad story for nine to 12-year-olds” about a man and his lover dying of AIDS.

Many parents will be asking why the Federal Government is funding a booklet that appears to be breaking down our children’s innocence and parental concern about promiscuity.

The Government spends heaps of money on warning us about other dangerous behavior – smoking, drink driving and so on.

But with the tragic issue of AIDS, we are told to be tolerant and understanding of the behavior most likely to cause it. This form of “compassion” can only have deadly consequences.

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