MRS VIC1ORIA G1LLICK'S latest campaign is one which deserves to be vigorously supported by all Catholics. Mrs Gillick's old adversary, The Brook Advisory Centres, which has for many years been handing out contraceptives and dubious "sex education" materials to children as young as 12, has now republished its 1991 sex manual for children, entitled Say Yes, Say No, Say Maybe?
The original version encouraged older teenagers to give free expression to their sexual instincts; its one tenuous claim to respectability was its advice on how to avoid peer group pressure, and to retain the option of not having sex. at all. But it made clear its view that sexual intercourse is a healthy and enjoyable option at all times, inside or outside the context of a "loving relationship".
The "loving relationship", if the child concerned fancies one exists, is of course, in the ideology of the sex education industry, not only a justification of why sexual intercourse may take place, but an imperative reason why it should. But sex is also, in this ideology, a perfectly valid and wholesome recreational activity, and is to be encouraged so long as "precautions" are taken.
Now, the Brook has grown bolder, publishing a revised version of their 1991 manual. It has to be said, firstly, that this publication is of a coarseness and an obscenity which can hardly fail to be corrupting: one section of it is entitled "the good grope guide", the contents of which combine specific and graphic instructions with a leering and smutty tone the purpose of which is clearly to rid sexual activity of any notion that it should be approached with caution and respect.
THE BROOK, in fact, long ago abandoned any pretence at the highfiown idealism (of a sort) it once professed, a fact bemoaned in her later years by its foundress, Lady Brook. "I despair about sex education these days" she said before her death. "We started it after all, being invited into schools all those years ago. I don't believe in all this peculiar stuff they teach now, the homosexuality, the unnatural acts....We don't need to tell young people all the extras. They should be told about love and the facts of life not all this sex, sex, sex."
Lady Brook and those like her, however, have to bear much of the responsibility for the effect all this "sex, sex, sex" is having on our young people, and above all for the exclusion of parents from what should never have ceased to be recognised as being primarily their responsibility.
It is important that we should understand that this did not happen by accident. There is — and has been for a generation and more — a deliberate and concerted targeting of our children by activists in the health care and education establishments. In the words of one family planning activist back in the Seventies, "if we do not get into sex education, children will simply follow the mores of their parents". One of their clear aims has thus been to exclude parents from any concern with their children's sexual and moral education. Another has been to make children sexually aware and active at a much younger age than they have been in the past.
AGONY AUNTS have openly campaigned against parents' right to discourage their childrens' sexual activities, and in favour of young girls becoming "sexually active". Lady Brook herself once triumphantly announced the aims of her brave new world. "It is now", she said, "the privilege of the parental state to take major decisions — objective, unemotional, the State weighs up what is best for the child". The State — and bodies like the Brook Advisory Services, which the State supports and funds (to the tune of some £4 million). Today, clinics like the Brook routinely hand out contraceptives to underage children, guaranteeing never to inform their parents. And they publish materials like Say Yes, Say No, Say Maybe?, the new version of which has fallen under the scrutiny of the unsleeping Mrs Victoria Gillick.
It may be that, this time, the Brook has overreached itself. For there is one striking difference in the revised version: it is explicitly aimed at a much younger age group. The Brook has confirmed this, saying that it is aimed at children above and below the age of 14.
Mrs Gillick's MP has now taken up the case with Paul Boateng, Home Office Minister with responsibility for family policy: for, as she has pointed out, the revised version can only be seen as encouragement to children below the age of consent to engage in sexual intercourse: its publishers, she believes, ought therefore to come under the scrutiny of the criminal law.
Mr Boateng's response is not discouraging. He is, he says, "firmly of the view that the innocence of childhood should be protected and that children should be supported by their parents in resisting the pressures to engage in earlier sexual activity". Any question of incitement to unlawful activity, he advises, should be brought to the attention of the Attorney General. The appropriate procedures for such a reference are now under way.
It would surely be a matter for concern if the Attorney General, Lord Williams of Mostyn, failed to take action.
Speculation that since Lord Williams is known to be a libertarian on matters of sexual ethics he is unlikely to act must surely be misplaced. As a law officer of the Crown, his function is to defend the law, whatever his personal views.
A crime is a crime: he will surely not take the grave responsibility of becoming an accessory after the fact.