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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 10. 1963.

Sex Education As Factor In Crime

page 3

Sex Education As Factor In Crime

Mr. Spencer, Commissioner of Police, is known to be a kind and capable man. Even so, when Salient asked me to interview him about sex education I felt slightly nervous. He was about five minutes late and he apologised three times during the interview. A female secretary dressed like a policewoman showed me into the largest office I've ever seen and Mr. Spencer asked me to sit down.

To save time, I handed the Commissioner a carbon copy of a set of questions. The first was "What do you mean by sex education?"

"I don't mean the sexual act itself," he said, "but more a background to sex. The cause of most maladjustment to sex is through an ignorance of the background." I asked how long it would take for results to show. "If we started now to give the type of instruction that I envisage to teenagers, then to their parents through Marriage Guidance Counsellors, it would take approximately two or three generations before improvement would become noticeable."

"As for the method, instruction would be given by persons able to talk to young people and their parents on this subject. By that I mean doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists. I feel that they could be drawn from the Health and Justice Departments. This would mean an increase in the staff of both Departments."

Sex education would be ineffective in schools if parents decided to oppose the whole idea. Mr. Spencer hopes that this will not be the case.

I asked him at what age instruction would be given. There would be no point in delaying it until the last years at secondary school; by then those who need guidance most would have left school. So the age group would be between twelve and fifteen years old. "Then," he said, "the instruction would give the teenager some indication of the urges, frustrations, and compulsions met with at adolescence, and help them to overcome them in a manner which would ensure the adjustment to society in general. And if the parents had the same knowledge of what the adolescent teenager is going through it would establish confidence in both of them. The understanding help that the parents would be able to give with the knowledge they'd acquired would help their child through adolescence—the most difficult part of life."

How would he relate all this to those already in Borstal? He said: "I feel that youngsters in Borstal have become, through lack of knowledge on this subject, maladjusted in some manner to sex, which has caused them to have their outlet in some other kind of crime or violence. Some steps should be taken to ascertain their cause of derailment and then instruction given accordingly."

Mr. Spencer believes that most crimes, however small, are related in some way to sex maladjustment. He said that it is a belief that the first five years of a child's life decided how he will be, sexually, in later years—normal, perverted or homosexual. Parents are not aware of this. "Even feeding at the breast." he said, "is a half-pie sexual act. These things must be handled properly and with knowledge."

As examples. Mr. Spencer told me about some of the cases he handles. A child may be charged with stealing, or some other minor crime. He goes home and the reaction from his mother is a fit of hysterics and weeping, from his father—anger. They may not speak to him for a week or two. These are the two people he loves and trusts. Then he goes back to school, having lost his security, and joins a gang of other boys in similar positions. In every gang there is one boy who is fundamentally bad and he will become the ringleader and create the inevitable crimes. This is how gang rapes occur. Parents don't realise that the cause of the boy's misbehaviour is very often sexual, even in the case of the child who has stolen. Something sexual has urged him to do it.

Even those children who are charged with sex crimes are ignorant of "the background to sex." "I've spoken with young girls here in my office who are on charges of carnal knowledge. They may be pregnant but we can't be sure and I have to ask them about menstruation. I try to use their language, but in many cases they just look blank and don't know what many words mean. Every child should know the correct name and Reason for everything . . . not only What happens but also Why it happens."

Finally, Mr. Spencer reflected that the present generation had less opportunity of staying out of trouble. There is more money available to a teenager than there was, say, a generation back. Cars, television, picture theatres, more freedom, all mean that a child actually has less chance of remaining free. Sooner or later there will be a temptation that, perhaps would not have existed twenty years ago.

When I left his office, Mr. Spencer helped me and my duffle bag out of a huge, cushioned chair and saw me to the door. He asked me to remember that the views he had expressed were really those of a layman, gathered over a long period of service in the Police—D.F.