Guest post from Collett Smart, as published on The Tween Factor.
Students and school staff really enjoy the vibe that a fresh school year provides. New friendships, new uniforms, new teachers, new opportunities! So you would be forgiven for thinking that this sign was advertising back to school stock at a news agency!
As staff and children all over the country came to the end of their Christmas holiday break and began preparing to return to school this month, an adult shop called Love Play in Barkly street, St Kilda chose to warp this period by encouraging school themed fantasies of sex with minors.
Julie Gale of Kids Free 2B Kids discovered this display in the shop window, complete with school uniforms, apple, school stationery and chalk board which reads ‘Back to School.’ Ms Gale stated that the display,
“correlated school-age children with adult sexuality and should be illegal. The message is that it’s OK for school kids to be seen as sexual fodder. It’s totally abhorrent and inappropriate that an adult sex shop is blatantly sexualising children returning to school. This display undermines child protection efforts and assumes school is a place for sexual activity. It’s the closest the adult sex industry can get to legitimising child pornography within the constricts of the law.”
(read full article in the Melbourne Weekly)
The State Government Victoria, Department of Human Services initiated the ‘Every Child Every Chance’ campaign, which is their approach to child protection.
Their website maintains:
‘Our task is to lead action across Government and with the community to give every child every chance.’ They also state that, ’Every child has the right to live a full and productive life in an environment that builds confidence, friendship, security and happiness, irrespective of their family circumstances and background.’ They encourage the Victorian community to ‘Take the child friendly challenge, because protecting children is everyone’s business.’
I would have to question how a display like this builds ‘security’. Indeed, let us encourage this organization to become involved with us in getting this store display (and others like it) removed! Contact Mary Mckinnon, the child protection director and voice your concern that this type of advertising does not give ‘every child every chance’ and places children at risk for being viewed as objects of sexual desire. (See contact details further down the page)
There are enough stories of teachers being convicted for being sexually involved with students but most teachers are not involved in this type of activity and never will be. Most teachers care deeply about their students welfare. If you are a teacher such as this, please help to protect the reputation of teachers everywhere by voicing your concerns!
The teachers Union in Melbourne have let down their teachers and therefore the students by refusing to comment on this issue. The Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union has also refused to comment. Even the local National Theatre Ballet School’s manager, Robert Taylor, went so far as to remark that he was not offended by this display. It is my belief that local teachers, the Education Departments and Education Unions should be protecting their students against this highly destructive trend.
There are child protection laws that school staff have to ensure they uphold in order to maintain the privilege of working with our youth today. This type of display completely undermines the message that fantasizing about sex with a minor is abhorrent, while engaging in sexual activities with a minor is illegal.
If you are a teacher or principal, I would urge you to the contact the Victorian Branch of the Australian Education Union. Please include your name, membership number and workplace in an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively the contact for the Victorian branch of the Independent Education Union is: email@example.com
If you are a parent, please contact Mary McKinnon of the State Government Victoria, Department of Human Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Victorian Education Department at email@example.com and alert them to your concerns for the protection of the children in your area. Encourage them to put pressure on the store and local mayor to stop children from being viewed as sexual objects. The Education Department requests that you follow these guidelines when lodging a complaint:
- Focus on the things that genuinely affect your child
- always remain calm
- think about what would be an acceptable outcome for you and your child
Please let us know of any responses you may get, so that others can follow up too.