Opinion: Sex education must be reformed to combat sexual abuse

This post carries a trigger warning for domestic abuse, sexual assault and rape. 

The author’s name has been changed to protect her identity. 

The allegations of Jimmy Savile’s serial sexual abuse of young girls have been met with universal outrage. It has helped many more women to speak up about their own horrific stories. Rape and sexual harassment happens to women daily across the country, the majority of whom never speak up.

I was raped by a friend from university earlier this year. He never apologised and I suffered abuse from his friends worse than the incident itself. They routinely mimicked my screams under the guise of ‘lad banter’. The boys have never acknowledged that the event was rape, believing that ‘if a man is with a woman it is his biological urge to have sex’. I was isolated and felt like a ‘drama queen’ for being affected and upset about the situation. I blamed myself for over-reacting, not my rapist. This is a common symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I discussed the incident with a female friend whose reactions exposed serious flaws in our society and exposd attitudes which must be changed. She commented very blankly that every woman she knew had suffered from rape or, at the very least, sexual harassment. She told me about a relationship in which she was routinely beaten, as well as date raped. She told me of abandonment by her female friends and ‘slut shaming’ amongst her social group. She too felt isolated and blamed herself. None of the men have shown remorse.

I have asked male friends about their perceptions towards sex. Responses have been concerning. Alongside the belief that sex is a ‘biological urge’, men do not understand what constitutes consent. One blamed years of watching pornography for his attitudes towards women. Indeed, the pornographic standard of anal sex convinced teenage girls at my school that it was the expected norm. Of course, it isn’t just pornography that confuses young people. Magazines like Cosmopolitan also have their fair share of peculiar sex tips. With an education based entirely upon pornography and magazine articles, young people have a bizarre perception of sex.

People will always have access to pornography and Liberal Democrats must not attempt to ban its distribution. Porn can be empowering and healthy when it isn’t degrading. Young people are always looking for sex advice and often get false information from the internet. We can attempt to change men’s attitudes towards women through curriculum reform in Personal, Health and Social Education. The current teachings of contraception must be expanded to include gender and sex equality. I am not calling for instructional sex classes but it is important to educate children about what is acceptable conduct in a sexual relationship, and what constitutes abuse.

Unfortunately there is a long way to go to even have these proposals considered. British society is still prudish about talking about sex and equality. We are still struggling to allow people who love each other to get married. Equal marriage still warrants 900 protestors to rally together against love.  Trying to reform sex education will take some time. I just hope that until then more women can speak openly about abuse, instead of suffering alone in silence.

* Anne Smith is a pseudonym. The author's name has been changed to protect her identity.

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25 Comments

  • Daisy Cooper 16th Oct '12 - 10:26am

    Your experience sounds horrific – I feel desperately sad and angry for you. I think that you’re an extremely brave woman for committing your experiences to paper – particularly as you are doing so for the benefit of others. Thank you. On your ideas, I couldn’t agree more: educating men (and women) on what does and does not constitute consent is absolutely vital. I’ve lost count of the number of women who have told me that they have been raped and abused – and I’ve even met some who don’t even know whether they are ‘allowed’ to call it rape/abuse because so much of ‘sex without consent’ and other physical and mental violence has become ‘normalised’ in our society. I would really like to see our party take such issues more seriously, and hope that it could become a top priority for the new LibDem Women’s organisation (whenever it launches!), and would encourage you and others to get involved, to make sure that it does. Well done again: sadly, it’s only when courageous women like you step forward, that people realise that violence against women is a serious issue that hasn’t gone away.

  • Richard Dean 16th Oct '12 - 11:21am

    As a man I recognize all of the bad things you say about some men, and I am very sorry that you have had such awful experiences. I hope that you reported this to the police and were able to receive appropriate counseling from them, and that you were able to talk to a university or college counselor. Your woman friend’s story is also truly shocking, and I hope that she too has been able to obtain support from the police and counselors.

    I also recognize something that men might find odd in your account. This is that you say you “suffered abuse from his friends worse than the incident itself. They routinely mimicked my screams …”. If they heard your screams and did nothing to help you while you were being raped, that is a very serious offence surely? But what you seem to be saying here, in the phrase “worse than”, is that the rape itself was not the main problem, but the subsequent absence of sympathy and verbal abuse by the rapist’s friends.

    That response can come as a big shock, of course, and I hope it is taken account of in counseling given to victims of rape. I am a bit surprised that every one of them acted in this way, all rallying to support their friend. It suggests to me you are friendly with the wrong type of man. Many other men would have a much more supportive reaction.

    But lack of sympathy and verbal abuse are not normally regarded as worse than rape and sexual abuse, and are probably not part of the law that defines what rape and sexual abuse are. Focusing your complaint on those things may tend to reduce your credibility in the eyes of some people.

    Well, I hope I haven’t caused any more distress. I apologize if I have. My suggestion is that incidents of rape and sexual abuse will never stop if people continue to believe that it is just about “the incident itself”. Your story shows this well, and the changes that you recommend need to address this. I hope that many more people tell their stories, and that there is good couneslling available and the police take approprate actions.

  • *warning explicit content.

    As a person who was also the victim of child abuse that continued for almost 12 years, I too feel compelled to comment on this topic.

    In my personal experience, one way in which abusers manipulate a child is through taking advantage of a child’s lack of knowledge and fear.

    I remember vividly the way I was manipulated as a young child by my then brother in law.

    I was eight years old and after a family gathering, everyone else had gone to bed, apart from myself and “him”

    He then started talking about embarrassing situations that young boys and girls face in their last year at first school. I said I did not know what he was talking about so he went onto explain about how the young girls took a separate class in the final year to discuss changes in their bodies and “periods”
    To say I was horrified would be a understatement, as an 8 year old, I knew nothing about the female menstrual cycle, and the idea of a girl bleeding every month was disgusting.
    He then moved the conversation on to “us boy’s” and said, surly I must remember the embarrassment of the school nurse, how each of us were taking to see the nurse for a physical examination and those of who were not “circumcised” had to have our willies checked. Again, I was totally shocked and confused, I did not even know what circumcision meant. So he went on to explain how some parents chose to have their child circumcised soon after birth and others did not, and those of us who had not been circumcised had to be checked.
    Again, I was totally horrified and said that this had not happened to me at little school and I really did not know what he was talking about.
    I recall him saying to me that it was ok, that I must have had this done, there was nothing to be embarrassed for, or ashamed of, as all us boy’s go through this. But it is well known that because we all feel embarrased by it, noone tends to talk about it.
    Obviously I continued to protest this had not taken place.
    The seeds of doubt and fear were sown and it was then he moved the conversation on to the following.

    I recall him telling me that if it was true that I had not had this done to me by the school nurse, that I risked my willy becoming deformed as I got older. I was petrified, embarrassed, confused, you name it I was feeling it, but I had to ask him him what he meant.
    He went onto claim that all the boy’s who had not been circumcised as a children had to have their foreskins pulled back by the school nurse in order to break a “small” piece of skin that is attached to the back of the willy, if this piece of skin has not been pulled away then as you get older and your willy grows, it would become deformed.
    Again, I was shocked, scared and very confused, something did not seem right but I also remember that I was frightened that if this was true I did not want to become deformed.
    He again persisted that I must have had this done, then went onto say that if I truly had not had this done at school then I must have been off I’ll that day and the school must have forgotten about me, he then brought the conversation back to about all the boys being embarrassed about it and never talking about it with each other.

    It was then that he suggested that he would check mine for me. I was absolutely petrified and very embarrassed, I remember being very confused and unsure but I also remember feeling that what he was saying must be true, he was a member of my family who was very much loved by all and someone that I obviously trusted.

    At that age, I believe all little boy’s are starting to develop shyness when it comes to their genitalia.

    Seeing this in me, he persisted that it was ok, there was nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of and tried to reassure me that we were all the same. It was then that he removed his own penis from his jeans to show me that there was nothing to fear and showed me were the “alleged” piece of skin was located on the shaft and how simple it was to roll the foreskin right back and that it would not hurt.
    Eventually I gave in, at the time it did not feel right, but I felt I had no choice and what he was saying must be true, so I allowed him to perform this action on me.

    That physical process went on for about 5 mins and all the time he was masturbating himself, at the time, I believed he was doing this to himself at the same time, to make me feel more at ease at what was being done to me, I had no idea at the time he was actually relieving himself because at that age, i did not know what that was either.

    After the whole awful process, he tried again to assure me that what just happened was “normal” I should not be “frightened” but to remember that people are “embarrassed” by it, so therefore I should not talk about it like everyone else. He then went off to bed.

    I do not feel the need to give a running commentary of what happened over the years after that. As it is not necessary, and besides, I am sure this post has been graphic enough.
    My main reason for sharing this very personal and traumatic account is because I want to point out, just how easy it is for a vulnerable child to be manipulated or groomed, especially when there is a lack of knowledge on the child’s part.

    I am not insinuating that I would not have been abused by him had I have been better educated at school on sex education and puberty, however, he would have had to taken a much different approach to manipulate the situation as he would not have been in a position to prey on my lack of knowledge, sense of shame and embarrassment when it comes to child development.

    It is my belief that a paedophiles biggest weapon is manipulation and children’s lack of knowledge. Not all abuse starts out as ” forced violence” so to speak, although of course the event in itself is just this.

    You will never put an end to child abuse and paedophiles, however, there is much that we can do to make it much more difficult for them by removing tools that they use to manipulate, and one of those tools is removing the lack of knowledge.

    Finally, I just want to apologise to anyone who has been distressed or upset by my post. It was not intended to offend anyone.
    I know first hand how difficult this can be for someone who has had a shared experience and may not have spoken out.
    I have been in therapy on and off for the last 17 years. I live with depression and PTSD, and although I found this post difficult to write, I felt compelled to contribute.

    I know there are many hundreds of thousands of people in the country who have been the victims of abuse and this last couple of weeks has been very difficult for us. The media is full of stories on hourly basis about Jimmy Saverllie, and child abuse claims. It has been impossible to escape the constant reminders as it is everywhere you turn.
    I think as a society we have an opportunity to learn from this, and if Liberal Democrats or ANY political party for that matter can come up with proposals to combat these very deep problems that we have within ALL our communities, then that’s a positive thing.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 16th Oct '12 - 12:16pm

    Richard, the ordeal of going through a rape is bad enough – but imagine if the friends of your rapist continue to taunt, day in day out. Imagine how that must feel, bringing back the original trauma and rubbing salt in every wound. You have no time to heal. To know that the rapist has discussed what happened and got all his mates on side. That public humiliation after being a victim of the most private of crimes must be awful. And, actually, the involvement of the friends and their acceptance of the rapist is a sign that there is something very unpleasant in cultural attitudes to women, sex and what constitutes consent and assault. You might want to read this article from the Independent about some of the events and practices that go on at universities. The idea of “slut dropping” is so appalling – can you imagine how awful that must be for a young woman to go through? She must be petrified at what’s going to happen to her and is then left in a vulnerable situation miles from home. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/slut-dropping-and-pimps-and-hoes–the-sexual-politics-of-freshers-week-8203400.html

    Suggesting that the author may be at fault in her choice of friends is, frankly, missing the point and a pretty insensitive thing to say to someone who has gone through such an ordeal.

  • unfortunately we do live in society were people do like to ridicule and make fun out of other peoples misfortunes.

    To this day I still suffer from time to time, ridicule from people in my community who know of my abuse.

    I have often been the subject of peoples humour.

    It is probably one of the reasons though no excuse for my ongoing clinical depression, anxiety and PTSD.

    It has resulted in me becoming totally withdrawn from my community and socialising and I long ago cut all ties from all friends.

    There are many deep rooted problems that people face who have been the victim of a sexual crime and this is something that needs desperately looking at.

  • Richard Dean 16th Oct '12 - 1:06pm

    Caron, thanks, I’m glad that only one thing I wrote caused offence, and I apologize again for any offence caused. A perosn has to be careful – almost anything can be misinterpreted, especially in this kind of highly charged context. It’s obvious though that Anne Smith would be best advised not to have those men as friends in future.

    The statistics at the end of the article you link to are very bad, and I do hope something effective is being done. Those thngs didn’t happen at a university I went to, 40 years ago – at least not in the apparently widespread and open way they seem to happen now. The University I taught at had a policy of openness about sexual issues, lots of advice about what was and was not acceptale behaviour, strict rules against initiation rites, free contraceptive advice and condoms, lots of info about AIDS, significant medical and counselling support available from the University itself and from the student guild and other student groups.

    University is the first time many young people experience a significant absence of senior control. What they do with that freedom likely depends significantly on how they have been prepared for it, as well as on the culture there.

  • @Richard Dean

    I can not comment on what Caron feels.

    I doubt though you have caused any offence. This is a very difficult topic for most people to engage in. Many people fear engaging in case they say the wrong thing or their comment in misinterpreted.

    On a personal level, I admire you for showing the courage to engage in the thread. We have to address people’s fears and reluctance to discuss the topic if as a society we want to make changes

  • Richard Dean 16th Oct '12 - 2:03pm

    I agree, Matt. It is not always good to be silent. It is often better to try to say something. and cause inadvertent offence and then apologize and try again.

  • Ruth Bright 16th Oct '12 - 7:13pm

    “Anne” and matt – how courageous to share your experiences with us. I am sure such pieces of testimony empower others to speak out. Thank you.

  • Firstly, can I add my thanks to Anne and Matt for sharing. It’s important to acknowledge how difficult it must have been to write what you have and how vital it is that we learn from your experiences and try to devise policy solutions that help ensure they don’t happen again.
    I’ve long thought that we’ve been letting children and young people down with our stiff upper lip approach to sex and relationship education and that we’ve got the balance completely wrong between keeping abusers away from children and arming children with the knowledge to respond appropriately if abuse occurs. It’s going to make a lot of people very squeamish to suggest that children as young as 8 should be educated on what constitutes sexual abuse, but I think it a far preferable option than the multiple hoops people have to jump through before they can voluntarily help out with kids sports and activity groups and the like. Those children who do get abused are suffering because of their lack of awareness, and the children that aren’t abused are suffering for the lack of activities available to them in their community.
    If abusers were to know that children have been suitably informed in order to identify abuse then you’d hope they’d think twice about trying to do it in the first place.
    As for the sexual attitudes of young men in universities and otherwise, I also think that we cannot continue with the amateurish and optional approach to PSHE that prevails at present. If children even before their teenage years are receiving a profoundly disturbing education on sexual activity from the internet, then there is a strong argument for it being a duty of the state to ensure that the opposing view on what is appropriate sexual behaviour is presented to them before they develop truly despicable attitudes and behaviour.
    Just thinking about it now I’m very glad I was well out of my teens before internet speeds allowed me to view pictures of naked women at a rate any faster than one every five minutes. God knows what kind of sick individual I could have become.
    Many thanks again for sharing. I hope myself and others can bring about the changes required.

  • A lot of abuse is carried out by other children. It doesn’t make it acceptable however I don’t think we should start to criminalise kids for what is often experimentation which gets out of hand. Parents need to be aware of the development of their kids and keep an eye on them closely especially when playing with other may be slightly older children. Im not convinced these ‘perpetrators’ actually really know/understand the consequences of what they are doing. But yes education is vitally important from a very young age I’m afraid if we are to prevent more of this happening in the
    future. The problem is that you cannot have these conversations because of the hysteria which prevails around
    these subjects. We are also still an incredibly puritanical country about sex and relationships.It needs to be discussed along with issues of power in r’ships too. Until we all start having a Frank discussion about the good and bad of attitudes (and that may be challenging as not all will agree shock horror) we will never tackle the root causes of this issue and it will never go away.

  • Andrew Suffield 17th Oct '12 - 9:14am

    … and how vital it is that we learn from your experiences and try to devise policy solutions that help ensure they don’t happen again.

    I disagree quite strongly with the principle underlying this statement. It is absolutely critical that we base policy decisions on rigorous evidence and not, as you suggest, on anecdotes. There is no shortage of evidence on this topic.

    Anecdote-based policy gives us hysteria, shoot-on-sight orders for people suspected of being terrorists, and scanners in airports that take naked pictures of people through their clothes. We need this approach to policy-making to stop.

  • @Andrew Suffield

    I did not write my post with the intention of going into further details regarding my own circumstances. I wrote from my own experience with the intention of highlighting my lack of knowledge at the time and how i think it was used against me. My beliefs now that this lack of knowledge is something that can be used as a tool for paedophiles.
    I believe that early education is an area that we can look at to remove “some” of the predatory tools used by paedophiles.

    I do have a problem with your post where you said “I disagree quite strongly with the principle underlying this statement. It is absolutely critical that we base policy decisions on rigorous evidence and not, as you suggest, on anecdotes. There is no shortage of evidence on this topic.
    I do not wish to misinterpret your post so would appreciate if you could explain exactly what you meant when you said “not, as you suggest, on anecdotes”

  • Richard Dean 17th Oct '12 - 10:21am

    Anecdotes can be very helpful, but can also be very unreliable! They can include all sorts of issues – from misunderstandings to omissions to misleading emphasis to personal judgments to memory-playing-tricks to downright lies. Government actions need to be measured and proportionate , but some anecdotes can generate an emotional pull that is out of proportion to the size of the problem in society. Sometimes this is good, as a wakeup call to a society that is failing, but sometimes it misleads.

    That is one extra reason why victims need to take their stories to agencies that are set up to help. In Anne’s case that would include the police, parts of the university including its counseling and medical services, and even the student union and experienced women’s groups. Matt’s case is more difficult because an 8-year old doesn’t normally have the information, but it could have been parents, teachers, doctor, an aunt or uncle. It’s important therefore for all these people to listen out for signs of possible distress, and to have guidance on how to proceed.

    The reason is that experienced agencies offer more than just help. They can validate anecdotes and assemble evidence from them. They can take action to prevent further abuse by the abuser, of the person involved and of others. And in societies where such agencies have been set up, such as our own, they also act as some of the ways that society assesses how bad the problem is and whether additional measures – resources, laws – are needed to deal with it.

  • @Ewan Hoyle

    “I’ve long thought that we’ve been letting children and young people down with our stiff upper lip approach to sex and relationship education and that we’ve got the balance completely wrong between keeping abusers away from children and arming children with the knowledge to respond appropriately if abuse occurs. It’s going to make a lot of people very squeamish to suggest that children as young as 8 should be educated on what constitutes sexual abuse, but I think it a far preferable option than the multiple hoops people have to jump through before they can voluntarily help out with kids sports and activity groups and the like. Those children who do get abused are suffering because of their lack of awareness”

    I mostly agree and that was the point I was trying to make from my post, although i might not have put it across well enough.

    I do not believe for one minute that we should be teaching young children in school about the dangers of sexual predators and scaring the living daylights out of them, and I would very much doubt that most parents would want schools to frighten their young children in this way.
    The point that I was trying to get across was that we could educate children earlier on aspects of physical development, how we develop, and how despite some children being different i.e those that are circumcised and those that are not, we are all normal.
    We can educate young children in schools without the need to resort to extremes and installing fear. However, arming young children with knowledge about what is “normal” in their development can remove a tool which can be used by paedophiles to take advantage and exploit.
    Paedophiles look for “gaps” “openings” whatever you want to call it in order to start their manipulation of a child. closing these gaps I believe would make things much more difficult in the first place.
    Surely this is something that we should look into.

    @Richard Dean

    “Anecdotes can be very helpful, but can also be very unreliable! They can include all sorts of issues – from misunderstandings to omissions to misleading emphasis to personal judgments to memory-playing-tricks to downright lies.”

    I am not sure that I agree, but then I maybe bias. As someone who suffers from PTSD, I can tell you that every time an episode is triggered, you vividly relive the trauma in great detail. It is certainly not distorted in anyway. That’s why PTSD is almost impossible to treat, unless you resort to heavy use of daily tranqulizers, which is something that I personally refuse.

    I would still like to hear what Andrew Suffield meant though by his use of the word ancedote as he made a point of using bold lettering.

    From experience though, I have found that there is still a complete lack of understanding and direction, especially when it comes to those at the higher end of the medical expertise, as in Psychologists and Psychiatrists. There have been many reports and findings published by people within this profession and personally I believe they are failing . For some unbeknown reason there seems to be stiff competition amongst this field to come up with the best form of intense counselling over the shortest possible period, normally 12 sessions.
    I have no idea if this is a cost issue and who can come up with the cheapest. But what I do know is that this is failing patients badly.
    It can takes literally “years” of ongoing therapy to get a full understanding of a patient. I have been seeing my current therapist “weekly” since 2008 and it has taken a very long time for me to trust her completely, even now I only start to feel able to open up about certain issues that I have felt unable to do so before.

    Again, I have found myself commenting on a personal level, which is something that I did aim to avoid and for that I apologise. But I wanted to make a point in regards to the Antidotes and I got off track. For the professionals and governments to come up with a better understanding and come up with proposals for education and treatment, they must get themselves out of this mindset of speed and costs, because by doing so, will result in not only them missing opportunities to gather vital evidence and resources, they also end up failing patients and future education on such issues.

  • Richard Dean 17th Oct '12 - 12:11pm

    Not everyone has perpetual total recall. Indeed few probably have those things, which is one of the reasons why some people’s anecdotes are not always reliable.

    It seems there is even a psychological condition – false memory syndrome – though apparently not everyone believes it (no pun intended) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_memory_syndrome

  • The most important rule I learnt as a child from my father was ‘if I say ‘no’ I mean ‘no’!’.. yet confusingly in my teens I recall reading or hearing that ‘women sometimes say no because they lke to be persuaded’ and ‘most women like their man to be masterful’, and such phrases were even repeated in old movies. As a teenager I was quite naive and as a young man confused, but I never felt I had any ‘rights’ over my woman’s body. Whilst I don’t know how I would have got on asking my parents the sorts of questions that my kids asked me, I can only hope that I did the right thing, by my children, and by those in my care as a teacher, by always answering any question honestly. It is a basic principle that if a child asks a question then they are ready for the answer, but they don’t want a long answer as that will deter a future question.
    This probably the most thought provoking thread I have ever seen on LDV, and clearly there is no one answer to what is a myriad of entwined issues, but at the root of a solution has to be the role of the parent in ensuring a child has an understanding of right and wrong, a vital early understanding of their own ‘plumbing’, and an enabling attitude to their child’s early years/primary teachers. There is also, I guess, a need for some help to parents, especially to get over their own shyness of talking to their child about things.

  • @Richard Dean

    “It seems there is even a psychological condition – false memory syndrome ”
    I have not heard of that before so took the time to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_memory_syndrome that you quoted.
    “False memory syndrome is not recognized as an official mental health diagnosis[4][5][6][7] but the principle that memories can be altered by outside influences is overwhelmingly accepted by scientists”

    From what I can gather, mental health care has been well aware of this for some time, hence the reason that there is strict legislation when it comes to therapy in this field.
    Again talking from experience, I am grateful to you for so bravely engaging in this thread. Inadvertently you have nudged me towards some questions that I had for some time with regards to my own experiences and my circumstances with the NHS.

    Please let me explain.

    I never found the courage “initially” to speak out about the abuse I had and was suffering from, hence along with other reasons that I shall not go into why my abuse went on for so many years.

    In 1995 I had a complete nervous breakdown and not long after made several suicide attempts by taking overdoses. . At the time, I had no idea what I had said to Doctors in A&E as I was completely off my head, and anything that I was saying during these hours was not information that I was offering up willingly “so to speak” because it was not my intention at the time to speak out about why I was in the mental state that I was in. however the next morning a Psychologist would always ask me why I had did what I did. Most of the time, I would say nothing and would end up discharging myself from hospital. But the psychologist who was assessing me would never press me for details and I always walked away thinking that they must believe I am just a waste of space druggie.

    It was not until 1996 when I finally spoke out about the abuse, as it turned out he had also abused my older siblings as well. My ex-brother in law was immediately arrested and eventually sentenced to eight years in prison.

    It was only then that I had learnt that during my attempted overdoses the year previously, I had been screaming details of my abuse whilst in A&E and even my G.P had been made aware of this.

    I never understood the reasons why my G.P never challenged me on this, I was seeing him regularly for anti-depressants and sleeping tablets and was being treated for severe depression. I had asked him many years later why nothing was said to me, when this information was clearly placed on my records, and all he ever told me was that he couldn’t and was not allowed and I had to have had offered this information voluntarily. I always took from this and assumed it was because my abuse of prescription drugs at the time.

    I am realising from the information on the link that you provided that it had nothing to do with the fact that I was off my face on prescription meds at the times but because legislation states that a patient is not allowed to be coerced into giving information for reasons that the article states, the risk of creating False memory syndrome.

    So from you engagement with this thread, you might possibly have inadvertently assisted me into putting to rest some troubling questions I had with regards to my G.P and A&E
    It is something that I will be talking to my own GP about next time I see him.

    So once again thank you, It was never my intention to high-jack this thread with my own personal circumstances and I have apologised for that before,
    But it just goes to show that engagement from people like yourself who show bravery to engage on a topic which is a difficult and sensitive issue can have a beneficial effect on another persons situation, even if that was not the intention.

    Best Wishes to you

    Matt

  • Andrew Suffield 17th Oct '12 - 9:37pm

    I would still like to hear what Andrew Suffield meant though by his use of the word ancedote as he made a point of using bold lettering.

    Any story about individual circumstances is an anecdote, and must be kept out of policy-making if we are to have sane and effective policies. Richard’s already discussed why, and I’ll throw in one more crucial detail: we must know how frequent things are in order to develop effective policies.

    To apply that to your specific example and proposal for educating young children, let’s consider the extreme cases: if you are the only person who experienced this particular set of circumstances, and every other abuse case was different in a way that means this form of education would not help, then a policy of introducing this kind of education would be entirely ineffective at tackling child abuse. If every other abuse case was the same and would have been prevented, then it would be an extremely effective policy. Anecdotes cannot tell us which one we’re dealing with.

    This is why we have scientists studying problems like this and, through rigorous analysis of data collected from the whole population, producing evidence that can be used to inform policy-making.

  • No wishing to be disrepectful to the very real experiences related both the original article’s author and others, I doubt that reforming sex education will make very much difference to the behaviours being described.

    I look back at my formative years and note that I probably benefited from having a mother who not only had strongly held views on the capabilities and equality of women but also on the need to educate boys about their responsibilities and behaviours towards women. Interestingly, she was also derogatory towards men that were dependent upon women and often declaring (when we objected to doing some household chore) that she didn’t want to see any of her son’s tied to their Wife’s apron (ie. dependent upon the little woman to iron their shirts, sew on buttons, get meals etc).

    Hence my views are more along the lines that educating girls (and educating boys about the importance of their responsibilities and behaviours towards women) is key in the fight for women’s right to be seen and respected as a person in their own right. [Credit to Sara Khan (WeWillInspire.com) who's statement on the importance of educating Pakistani girls I have adapted.]

  • I am so pee’d off at what has just come out of Cameron’s mouth on this morning that I felt the need to locate this thread.

    Cameron warns of a “witch hunt, particularly against those who are gay”

    He said
    “There is a danger if we are not careful that this can turn into a sort of witch-hunt, particularly about people who are gay”

    I find his comments totally abhorrent and I am extremely upset by them.

    I was a victim of child abuse.
    I am also now an adult of 37 years of age and I am Gay.

    The 2 have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

    I want to know WHY Cameron felt the need to associate the two together.

    This is 2012 for gods sake.

    The comment from this so-called prime minister shows just how out of touch the Tory Party still is when it comes to homersexuality, despite all their talk of same sex marriages.

    Any homophobes watching the media, have just had their idea’s endorsed by this disgraceful prime minister.

    I am really quite distressed by this

  • I’m sorry I didn’t respond to Andrew Suffield sooner. The suggestion that I wish policy to be based upon anecdote is utterly absurd. Anecdote should not be considered as important when constructing policy, but anecdote often provides the emotional spur to examining the evidence in order to make policy better. It could also be argued that evidence in this area is the scientific accumulation and processing of individual anecdotes all-be-it anecdotes that may have been reduced to data points of a very basic variety.

    Anecdotes are vital in focussing people’s thoughts onto matters of great importance so that the evidence can be examined. Without the anecdotal evidence of the families of the murder victims of Steven Wright in Ipswich in 2006 as presented in the documentary ‘Killer in a Small Town’ I would not have gone on to be a drug policy activist devoted to the adoption of evidence-based policy.

    Policy-makers need hearts as well as brains.

  • Liberals claim to focus on maintaining natural rights such as the pursuit of happiness and liberty but how can people be truly free if justice isn’t upheld and rapists are allowed to continue their abuse excused on account of their lack of education. I think that the Liberal Democrats should put forth policies urging better sex education in schools as everyone should have the right not to be abused.

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