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Don’t tell children right from wrong, parents told by government

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The Government has told parents to discuss sex with their children without “trying to convince them” of what is right and wrong. Should the Government tell parents not to pass on values? The Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert discusses the issue on BBC Three Counties Radio. The advice comes in a new booklet, called Talking to your Teenager about Sex and Relationships, which is to be made available at pharmacies nationwide.

It has prompted criticism from family campaigners who say it is “outrageous” for the Government to tell parents not to give children clear moral guidance on sexual relationships. Although the Government says it is keen for parents to discuss sex with their children, it recently emerged that parents’ views were ignored during consultations on making sex education compulsory in primary and secondary schools. The new booklet tells parents: “Under the NHS, contraception and condoms are free and there are lots of safe and effective methods that are suitable for young people – encourage your teenager to visit their local clinic or GP so they can make a choice that’s right for them. “Why not offer to go with your daughter or encourage them to take a friend to support them? “Or, if you have a teenage son, suggest he talks to his girlfriend about it and visits a clinic with her.” It cautions: “Discussing your values with your teenagers will help them to form their own. “Remember though, that trying to convince them of what’s right and wrong may discourage them from being open.”

Children’s minister Beverley Hughes said the Government “doesn’t bring up children” but “does have a role to play in supporting parents and giving them access to advice and information”. But Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: “The idea that the Government is telling families not to pass on their values is outrageous. “Preserving children’s innocence is a worthy goal. We would like to see more of that kind of language rather than this amoral approach where parents are encouraged to present their children with a smorgasbord of sexual activities and leave them to make up their own minds.”

Author and researcher Patricia Morgan, who is completing a book on teenage pregnancy, said: “All the evidence from the United States is that if parents say they disapprove of underage sex, the teenagers are less likely to do it. “If parents talk about underage sex and do not disapprove of it, the children go on to do it. It is pretty basic stuff,” she added. “Parents are not allowed to know if their child is being given contraception or getting an abortion. But they are being told to teach their children about sex in a manner dictated by the State.”

Meanwhile FPA (formerly the Family Planning Association) has been given £530,000 by the Government to train parents in how to teach their children about sex. FPA is the group behind “Let’s grow with Nisha and Joe”, a comic-style sex education booklet for six-year-olds. The group was one of the most vocal proponents of the programme of compulsory in-depth sex education which the Government intends to introduce for school children as young as five.

FPA was criticised last year for promoting a video to schools along with a leaflet telling teenage girls as young as 14 that warnings about the negative consequences of abortion are just ‘myths’. “Women may feel relieved, have mixed feelings or feel sad. Only a few women experience long-term psychological problems and those women who do often had similar problems before pregnancy,” it read. But earlier that year the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) warned that having an abortion can damage a woman’s mental health. The RCP said women should be warned of the risks before proceeding.

Christian carer struck off after Muslim girl converts

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A Christian foster carer has been struck off because she allowed a Muslim child in her care to convert to Christianity.

The girl, in her late teens, was interested in exploring Christianity before she was placed with the foster carer.

But when the girl decided she wanted to be baptised, council officials said her carer had failed in her duty to preserve the girl’s religion and should have used her influence to prevent the baptism from going ahead.

They said the girl should stay away from church for six months, and later struck the carer off the fostering register.

The carer, who has over ten years experience looking after more than 80 children, is now challenging the local authority’s decision.

Her case is being backed by The Christian Institute’s legal defence fund. Neither the carer nor the girl can be named for legal reasons.

The carer is a practising Christian, and made it clear to the girl when she arrived that she could continue to practice her Muslim faith if she wanted to.

In assessments before the baptism, the authorities said the girl’s emotional needs were being met, and noted that the carer was showing understanding and respect for the girl’s culture.

The carer’s lawyers say there was no evidence that the change in the girl’s religion would harm her, and argue that the authorities failed to listen to the girl’s views.

The carer, an Anglican who attends a local evangelical church, said: “I did initially try to discourage her.

“I offered her alternatives. I offered to find places for her to practise her own religion. I offered to take her to friends or family. But she said to me from the word go, ‘I am interested and I want to come.’ She sort of burst in.”

The carer said that the girl’s social workers were fully aware that she was going to church and had not raised any objections.

The girl had told her auxiliary social worker of her plans to convert before she was baptised in January last year, and the social worker had appeared to give her consent.

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “All people should be free to change or modify their religious beliefs. That surely must be a core human right in any free society.

“I cannot imagine that an atheist foster carer would be struck off if a Christian child in her care stopped believing in God. This is the sort of double standard which Christians are facing in modern Britain.

“In recent months we have seen grandparents, a nurse, adoption agencies, firemen, registrars, elderly care homes – and now a foster carer – being punished because of the Christian beliefs they hold. It has to stop.”

The carer’s solicitor Nigel Priestley said: “There is no doubt that the event that provoked the council was the decision by the girl to be baptised.

“This girl was 16 and has the right to make this choice, so for the council to react in this way is totally disproportionate. Even at this late hour, we hope that the council will resolve the issue.”

A council spokesman said: ‘From the details provided, we believe that this information relates to a child who is the subject of a final care order in favour of the council. In those circumstances, we are unable to pass any comment.”

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Teacher scolds girl, 5, for talking about Jesus

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A five-year-old girl from Devon was left in tears after her teacher reprimanded her for talking about Jesus in class – and her mummy could be facing the sack.

The girl’s mother, who works part-time at the school, is being investigated by governors because she emailed friends at church asking them to pray about her daughter’s situation.

Mrs Jennie Cain is being supported by The Christian Institute’s legal defence fund.

The head teacher at the school, Mr Gary Read, learnt about the prayer request after he got hold of a private email sent by Mrs Cain from home using her personal email account.

He would not tell the 38-year-old mother of two how he got a copy of her personal email, but he told her she was being investigated for misconduct.

Mrs Cain said: “I felt embarrassed that a private prayer email was read by the school – it felt like someone had gone through my personal prayer diary.

“I feel my beliefs are so central to who I am, are such a part of my children’s life.

“I do feel our beliefs haven’t been respected and I don’t feel I have been treated fairly. I don’t know what I am supposed to have done wrong.”

On 22 January Mrs Cain went to pick up her children from the 275-strong Landscore Primary School in Crediton, Devon.

Earlier that day her daughter, Jasmine, had been overheard by a teacher discussing heaven and God with a friend. The teacher took the five-year-old to one side and told her off.

Mrs Cain said that when she picked her children up from school, “my daughter burst into tears, her face was all red and she was clearly upset.

“She said ‘my teacher told me I couldn’t talk about Jesus’ – I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“She said she was taken aside in the classroom and told she couldn’t say that. I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to do.”

The next day Mrs Cain was called into Mr Read’s office over another matter before he started discussing her daughter, Jasmine.

“He started talking about my daughter about how he wasn’t happy about her making statements about her faith.

“At that point I froze, I felt very small and I felt trapped as I was a junior member of staff.”

That weekend, she emailed a prayer request from her personal computer at home to ten trusted friends from her church.

“I asked them to please pray for us, please pray for Jasmine, please pray for the school and pray for the church.”

A few days later she was called back into Mr Read’s office.

“I didn’t think at this point I could be more stunned. He had in his hand a copy of my private, personal email and it was highlighted all the way through.

“He said that he was going to investigate me for professional misconduct because I had been making allegations about the school and staff to members of the public.”

Mrs Cain, who was not suspended, said he refused to tell her where he had got the email but said two independent governors would be taking statements and calling witnesses.

“He said the investigation could be followed by disciplinary action up to and including dismissal because of this private email.”

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “I thought I had heard it all when I learned a nurse had been suspended for offering to pray for a patient.

“But now a five-year-old girl and her mother have been slammed for nothing more than expressing their Christian faith.

“I am particularly concerned about the way in which Mrs Cain’s private email to her church friends ended up in the hands of the head teacher.

“This is the latest in a series of cases where Christians are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. It is really getting to a point where it has to stop.”

http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090212/teacher-scolds-girl-5-for-talking-about-jesus/

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