Articles on Shifting Sands
Why should primary schools educate children about FGM?
Teaching school children about FGM is unnecessary.
The News Release ‘National FGM Centre calls for primary schools to teach about FGM’ (reproduced below) was issued by Barnardo’s Charity 19th July 2019 with the following rationale:
‘The National FGM Centre is calling for primary school pupils to be taught about FGM, because FGM most often happens before a girl turns 10 years old. It is releasing guidance to all schools to help them ensure the subject is taught in an age appropriate way. A press release is below and I hope you’ll consider running something on this tomorrow.”
‘Tomorrow’ was a Saturday, so expectations must have been high that ‘cut and paste’ journalists and enthusiasts would dutifully reproduce the press release for weekend readers. But why do primary school children need to be taught about FGM?
I wrote this piece ‘The FGM industry’s abuse of children must end. FULL STOP! last year having seen how primary school children were being brainwashed by zealous teachers and ‘awareness raisers’ into believing it’s a major problem in the UK that they can help do something about. I ask why they need to know about FGM at all and suggest that what the FGM industry is doing to these children is abusive and should end. FULL STOP!
Barnardo’s News Release
Embargoed until: 12.01AM Saturday 20th July 2019
“National FGM Centre calls for primary schools to teach about FGM
Primary schools are being encouraged to help pupils change the world by teaching them about female genital mutilation when the new relationships and health education curriculum is introduced next year.
The topic is not compulsory for pupils until secondary school, but the National FGM Centre wants the issue to be talked about earlier because FGM most often takes place before a girl is 10 years old.
Run in partnership by Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association, the Centre says teaching children about FGM is beneficial for all schools in all communities because at the heart of it is teaching children about gender equality and human rights.
Schools play an important part in a child’s life including providing support and protecting girls at risk of harm.
Discussions around FGM is also about teaching children that their body belongs to them, functions of the anatomy and helping them to understand that no-one is allowed to do something to them that will harm them.
To help schools prepare to teach the subject, the centre has published guidance which is suitable for primary and secondary school teachers.
It explains the need for schools to engage with parents, carers and the communities the school serves. They should discuss what will be taught, address any concerns and help support parents in managing conversations with their children on the topic.
School should also ensure lessons are age appropriate and child-centred by framing the discussion around the wider issues of body rights and safeguarding and body image.
Head of the National FGM Centre, Leethen Bartholomew said:
“Including FGM in the curriculum for Relationship and Sex Education lessons at secondary school is a welcome step forward but in many cases this is too late.
“While some may have reservations about children being taught about this issue at primary school, the work of the National FGM Centre has shown this can be done in a child-centred aged-appropriate way.
“By teaching primary school pupils about FGM we are empowering the next generation to speak up about the issue. But it’s not just down to the next generation to break the silence. Everyone, regardless of their community, gender or profession must be part of this conversation, so FGM become less of a hidden crime. As a society we need to reach our goal of ending FGM in this country by 2030.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
About the National FGM Centre
The National FGM Centre is a partnership between Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association. It works to prevent this hidden form of child abuse and also provides support to survivors.
Education is a key part in this, including working with girls and their families, raising awareness in schools and communities, and training professionals like teachers to spot girls at risk of FGM and know how to report it.
Last year almost 300,000 children, young people, parents and carers were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 1,000 services across the UK, such as young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills or parenting classes.
We work to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and every year we help thousands of families to build a better future. But we cannot do it without you.
Visit www.barnardos.org.uk to find out how you can get involved. Registered charity No. 216250 and SC037605″
About the Author - Bríd Hehir
Bríd is a retired health professional. She started her career as a nurse and midwife in Africa where she worked for almost four years. She encountered FGM/C in Ethiopia. She then moved to London where she worked in the National Health Service as a midwife, community nurse, health visitor, reproductive and sexual health nurse and manager over a period of 30 years. She did not encounter FGM/C during that time despite working with immigrant communities who are reported to practice it still. She is puzzled by the current reported prevalence of the practice, the official response and associated activism. And is worried that they might cause more harm than good.