I recently stumbled upon a news article that caused me to do a double take. It was describing something that should have been a completely innocent occasion; a Mother's Day afternoon tea event organised by a school in Australia where the children were encouraged to bring along their mothers and grandmothers. With invitations promising tea, coffee, scones and a present it must have seemed like a perfectly pleasant event.
So what caught my eye so dramatically? Well it all came down to the 'present' described in the invitation. It appears that young children attending this particular school party were handed some rather explicit chocolates featuring everything from copulating couples to individual sweets moulded to a variety of different shapes, such as a penis, a pair of breasts and buttocks. Needless to say I was horrified! According to one parent, "Every single chocolate was to do with sex."
This was no sex education lesson, but what seems to have been a completely thoughtless opportunity to rid the school of an assortment of chocolates left over from an adults 'girls night' event that had happened earlier in the school calendar. The thought of them being presented to children from the age of three and up in a school setting with parents and grandparents on hand is simply staggering. It's no wonder that the event hit the press once the completely justifiable complaints of parents started to circulate. I'm sure there was many an awkward question over the dinner table that evening!
As a parent it's impossible to read something along these lines without wondering how you yourself would react were it to happen to your own child. I know there are arguments that children don't really care what shape their chocolate comes in, as long as they get to enjoy the eating of it, but to me that's not an excuse for such an easily avoidable error. I would certainly have found myself in the queue to complain if it had been James handing me a clear plastic bag filled with the saucy snacks.
This got me thinking about that age old question; how young is too young for children to be exposed to anything of such an adult nature, be it chocolates, advertising or any form of media engaged in presenting sex to our youngsters? Should we be concerned that something like this could actually happen? Or is it something to laugh off as a humorous mistake that's certainly unlikely to happen at the same school again?
Personally I'm of the opinion that children today seem to have a very limited amount of time where they can enjoy just being children. Why do we rush to end those fragile few years by introducing seedy and suggestive products, all in the name of fun? I'm not saying that we should remove sex education from the curriculum and force our children to live in big bubbles until they reach their eighteenth birthdays, but perhaps it is time that we started to take notice of what our children are presented with that would squash their childhood innocence.
What do you think? Is it just a bit of fun? Would you be outraged if your three-year-olds were exposed to this kind of thing?