Dubious Origins of Sex Education Raises More Concerns

Downloaded June 5, 2003

What especially concerns many parents is the origin of TAT. "Talking About Touching" was developed by a group calling itself Committee for Children. The Committee for Children is an offshoot of COYOTE, which stands for Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics. A group concerned with the rights of prostitutes. The COYOTE website describes the group as follows:

"COYOTE ("Call Off Your Tired Ethics") was founded by Margo St. James in 1973. COYOTE works for the rights of all sex workers: strippers, phone operators, prostitutes, porn actresses etc. of all genders and persuasions. COYOTE supports programs to assist sex workers in their choice to change their occupation, works to prevent the scapegoating of sex workers for AIDS and other STDs, and to educate sex workers, their clients and the general public about safe sex. COYOTE is a member of The North American Task Force on Prostitution, and The International Committee for Prostitutes' Rights."

The Committee for Children bills itself as a group that promotes the "safety, well-being and social development of children." It was started in the 1970's by Jennifer James as an outgrowth of work she did with University of Washington social scientists. The research project was on youth entrance into prostitution. James established Judicial Advocates for Women in 1976 as a nonprofit, and identified its mission: to educate the public about the realities of prostitution.

In 1981 the group generated the first version of the "Talking About Touching" program - "a skills-based personal safety curriculum for kindergarten through Grade 6." In 1983 the group changed its name to the Seattle Institute for Child Advocacy and its mission to preventing child and adolescent victimization. They adopted their current name in 1986.

On their home page the group maintains, "Teachers understand the essential role social and emotional learning plays in every classroom. Students who feel good about themselves and have positive relationships with others are more emotionally engaged and tend to be more successful in school and in later life."

Their fundamental belief is that "Social and emotional skills are fundamental building blocks that lead to a child's academic success and a positive school climate."

Social Engineering in the Catholic Church?

Catholic parents have many concerns about letting secular social engineers determine the curriculum for their children.

"What IS their ultimate motivation? They may try to gloss it, but they have ulterior motives. [COYOTE] are definitely trying to promote such things," Germino says.

Susan O'Hare-Black of Lowell tells MassNews, "I send two of my children to a small Catholic school called St. Stanislaus. Out of the blue, I received a letter telling me that Talking About Touching is mandated in the schools and inviting all of the parents to a general information meeting.

"TAT is presented as a sexual abuse prevention program in order to elicit responses from young children. My husband and I were uncomfortable with some of the sexual scenarios.

"I brought this up, and immediately had to get on the defensive. They weren't prepared for parents to object to this," O'Hare-Black says.

With regards to parental involvement in the child sexual abuse prevention programs they offer, the Committee for Children maintains, "A parent's first step in supporting a school-based CSA-prevention program is simply to allow his or her child's participation. Unfortunately, parents who have concerns about these programs or believe that they are harmful may not allow their children to take part. Reassuringly, the research shows that children can learn personal safety skills without becoming anxious, acting out, or becoming confused about appropriate touch. Some parents believe that their children are at low risk for sexual exploitation or believe that children are too young to understand the topic. These parents are less likely to support personal safety education."

"I found out from the website [] that all around Massachusetts there were parents who were raising the same issues. I want to protect my parental rights.

"It can be very intimidating to stick up for yourself and raise questions. The website helps parents to know, 'Wow, I'm not the only one objecting.'

"We're kind of conservative," says O'Hare-Black. "My children will be negatively affected by the content of TAT. Someone else may look at it and say, 'Hey, this is no big deal.'

No Parents Allowed

"Parents are barred from the classroom during TAT lessons. The third grade teacher explained that if parents are in the room, it may effect the child's reaction. This is really sexual stuff about uncles being touched by nephews, girls being touched by male babysitters.

"I prefer to teach my children based on their own personalities and sensitivities. [The scenarios presented by TAT] could frighten them and make them self-conscious about their own body parts and present them with information they do not need.

"Have you looked at the history of Committee for Children?" O'Hare-Black asked MassNews.

"TAT is not a Catholic program. The Pope has said that it is very important for parents to teach their children. There is nothing about TAT that complies with Catholic doctrine.

"COYOTE is a 'sex workers' rights' organization led by a Wiccan priestess of some sort. It's really weird," says O'Hare-Black.

Deacon Anthony Rizzuto, who did not return calls from MassNews, told Bill Germino that he has not looked into the Vatican documents and claims to be unaware of the COYOTE links.

"Committee for Children works hand in hand with DSS [Department of Social Services]. Their goal is to get reactions from children, and then teachers have to make a judgment call," says O'Hare-Black.

"I used to be a DSS investigator before I became a certified teacher. DSS is an agency with many, many problems. I've seen how an agency like DSS can destroy families.

"The small group of corrupt priests are the ones who need programs! Instead, you have one messed up agency [DSS] teaming up with another messed up agency [The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston].

"Those priests were not obeying the Magisterium [the teaching authority of the Catholic Church.] TAT should be for priests, not children.

"I'm sure it's come about because lawyers for the Archdiocese said, 'You've got to get some sort of policy to cover yourself.' Some of that came out of some sort of an insurance plan the Archdiocese purchased."


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