Last week I attended the Christian Schools Policy Forum in Canberra. It is designed to demonstrate the collegiality across the Christian Schools’ Sector, and a united front to ensure that our schools receive adequate funding and an understanding or our belief systems and the impact that has on changes to legislation.

It is always encouraging to catch up with colleagues and to hear what government is doing (and at the moment, with elections in sight, just what they are promising).

The other very interesting and important topic for discussion was in the areas of gender and sexuality.

Pornography is one of the biggest concerns facing society at the moment. Even Psychiatrists are pointing to the dangers of the growing addiction to pornography. The increasing violence and hard core elements which are now becoming the norm, are readily available to our young men (and women).

Statistics demonstrate that 100% of all young men and boys who have access to their phones in their bedrooms during the night, are accessing pornography. If you have a boy at home (and some of them even pre-sexual at age eight), are also accidentally and then obliviously connecting to these sites. Their curiosity and shame hold them there. Pornography is becoming a blight on manhood.

Many young people see their pornography experience as ‘normal’ and their expectations of their sexual partners is often in line with what they are watching online. Arousal becomes more and more difficult, hence the current move into more violent and negatively bizarre depictions (plus drugs). Pornography is the “ice” of the current age. It is addictive and threatens relationships at every level. It is excruciatingly hard to break free from.

Another important issue is that of gender identity and gender dysphoria and gender orientation. There are questions around what it means to be male or female. What is the difference between gender and sexuality? At what age is gender identity set? Then there needs to be discussions around bullying of those young people who don’t fit the ‘norms’…’heteronormativity’ was my new word for the week. What does that mean for schools? Do we need special programs, or is a good anti-bullying policy enough?

So my brain is buzzing with ideas after these important conversations around politics, sexuality and finding a Christian context or approach to all of these important aspects of our larger and smaller communities.

I love young people and I hate to see them hurting. As parents and leaders of your children, keep them close; supervise them; spend time with them and don’t be afraid to put boundaries on them.

Have a look at the link on Facebook to read more about steps you can take to help your children grow into useful citizens of Lake Macquarie and the wider world. More importantly they need help to grow as husbands and wives, partners and parents who are well balanced and kind, willing to serve others and to not think the world is about them and them alone.

Mrs Sue Skuthorpe

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