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UK kids amongst worst in Europe for wellbeing

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Smoking, drinking, sex and drugs have been named among reasons why British children are ranked almost bottom of a European table of wellbeing.

The Netherlands came top while only Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta ranked lower than the UK, which came in at 24th out of 29.

The report, conducted by researchers at York University for the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), looked at the wellbeing of young people up to the age of 19.

The table used 43 measures taken across Europe in 2006 to produce a ranking based on seven categories of wellbeing.

The categories covered lifestyle factors such as health, relationships, material resources, behaviour and risk, education and housing and environment.

BBC correspondent James Westhead said the study suggests little improvement since a similar report by Unicef two years ago.

Britain’s best ranking was 15th in ‘children’s relationships’, where they were quizzed on how well they got on with their classmates and parents.

CPAG, which is heavily dependent on funding from the Government, called for more state spending on benefits and tax credits.

Its briefing summarising the research dismisses the idea that the rise of single parenthood and the spread of family break-up have harmed children.

Blaming child poverty for the many difficulties British children face, CPAG chief Kate Green said: “The last time a child wellbeing league table was published, British people were shocked that the UK came last.

“This time we need a frank focus on why other countries are doing so much better for their children. Public resolve and political action to put children first are more important than another round of hand-wringing.”

Source: http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090421/uk-kids-amongst-worst-in-europe-for-wellbeing/

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.

Staying Pure in a Fornication Nation

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You don’t have to compromise with our sex-saturated culture. By God’s grace you can stay in the sexual safety zone.

There were some raised eyebrows last week on the campus of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., when I hosted a special meeting—the day before Valentine’s Day—on the subject of fornication. That’s not a word you normally associate with a lecture topic, but hey, I had to get attention. And since the hormones on most college campuses are as dense as Florida humidity, I figured the kids would be all ears when I attacked the subject.

I was right. At times you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium, especially when I talked about how most American young people aren’t even sure how to define sexual activity anymore. (Today’s college seniors were nine years old when President Clinton tried to redefine sex during the Lewinsky scandal.) At other times the students burst into nervous laughter, especially when I told how I gave my son-in-law a lecture about sexual boundaries in front of 700 of his classmates when he was dating my oldest daughter.

“Losing one’s virginity used to be a serious issue, but today fornication is just a standard sitcom plot device.”

I thought it might be helpful to share these key points with a wider audience, since many of the readers of this column are single. And even if you are married, it would be good to take a quick refresher course in self-control—since we live in a nation that is losing all moral restraint. Here’s what I told the group at Southeastern:

1. Don’t redefine your morality. I’ve seen Christian young people roll their eyes when I say the word “fornication” because it sounds so much like King James English—sort of like “sodomy,” another word we avoid in our PC culture. But we need to be careful how we bend the meaning of words. Terms that are in the Bible should not vanish from our modern vocabulary just because they offend some of the hosts of The View.

When “fornication” is used in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (“For this is the will of God … that ye should abstain from fornication” KJV), the Greek word is porneia. It’s the root word for pornography, but it means a lot more than sexually explicit material. It includes sex between unmarried people, homosexuality, bestiality, prostitution, incest and adultery.

According to the apostle Paul, sex as God intended is limited to marriage between one man and one woman. Period. The Episcopal Church has no right to broaden the definition. Neither do Bill Clinton, Newsweek, Oprah or HBO. Don’t let moral relativism infect your brain.

2. Don’t sell your birthright. Losing one’s virginity used to be a serious issue, but today fornication is just a standard sitcom plot device. It’s considered normal. People are considered weird if they didn’t have sex by age 14; and if anybody dares to teach abstinence in a public school he is labeled a Neanderthal.

In TV shows like Desperate Housewives, Nip/Tuck or Grey’s Anatomy, life revolves around who’s in bed with whom. There’s even a TV series on Showtime called Californication that follows the life of a sex addict. What TV producers don’t usually explore are the consequences of immorality. Audiences probably wouldn’t laugh if the couples hooking up on these shows had to deal with genital warts, gonorrhea, AIDS, abortions, post-abortion trauma or clinical depression—all real fallout from illicit sexual behavior.

If you are a single person today—whether you have lost your virginity or not—it’s time to reclaim your purity and save sex for marriage. We’ve forgotten the story of Esau, who forfeited his birthright through one stupid act. He traded his inheritance for a bowl of stew. You really can throw your life away through one act of fornication.

3. Get ruthless with your weaknesses. Jesus sounded stricter than a Catholic school principal when He talked to His disciples about self-discipline. He told them: “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matt. 5:29, NASB).

Jesus was not advocating self-mutilation. He was using sarcasm to emphasize how serious sin is—and He urged His followers to take radical steps to avoid the snares of temptation. In our sex-soaked society, it is more imperative than ever that we draw boundaries.

Got a problem with pornography? If you can’t discipline yourself to avoid offending Web sites, get rid of your computer. Do you end up engaging in heavy petting or intercourse with your girlfriend or boyfriend after a few minutes of kissing? Draw lines and stick to them. And if you can’t stick to the rules, ask for intervention. If you don’t you are headed for spiritual shipwreck.

4. Live a transparent life. The Bible never advocates that we battle sin alone. We need each other. James 5:16 says: “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” In some cases you will never get victory over temptation until you share your struggle with another Christian and seek counsel and prayer.

So many believers today are living with secrets. Many women (and men too) were molested as children by a relative or friend—yet they have never shared their pain. Many young guys are trapped in a dark world of pornography and masturbation but are too ashamed to admit it. Many Christians struggle with same-sex attraction yet they fear that if they confess their thoughts they will be rejected.

You will never discover the abundant life Christ promised until you clean out your spiritual closets and deal with all your dirty laundry. Total forgiveness and cleansing is available, but confession and repentance must come first.

5. Develop the fear of God. Paul had sober words for the Thessalonians who ignored his admonitions about sexual sin. He told them: “He who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thess. 4:8). It couldn’t be clearer: If you disregard sexual boundaries, you are on thin ice.

What we desperately need in the church today is a conscience awakening. Too many Christians have warped judgment—and they don’t even feel godly remorse when they break God’s law. If you have any form of sexual sin in your life, flee it immediately and make a 180-degree turn. He will grant you the grace to live a life of purity.

 

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

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