The anti-violence education program, Respectful Relationships is generating concerns that it may introduce sexualised content to children too young to be exposed to it.
The program, which was initially designed for high school students is expected to be extended to primary classes in Victoria has part of an ongoing push to stamp out domestic violence.
It has since been reported that children as young as 12 would be taught about the objectification of women in the media by displaying ‘raunchy music videos’ and ‘explicit advertising’, creating concerns for parents regarding the trend towards the hypersexualisation of children.
The issue was first raised by State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy last week, who said he wanted his kids “to be kids”.
“I want them to act like kids, I want them to think like kids,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, Victorian Education Minister James Merlino defended the program, saying that its continued roll out comes in response to the findings of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, and justifying the position by highlighting the access young children already have to sexualised content.
He said the program for younger children would be specifically developed.
“If we really want to tackle this scourge, and tackle it over a generation, then we need to engage with our kids at school,” he told 3AW. “We can’t as a society, stick our heads in the sand and think our kids aren’t exposed to this.”
He also said that teachers will have the freedom to exercise professional judgement in selecting the specific examples they use to teach the children.