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Monday, April 24, 2006

Political correctness or necessity?

I have commented before on the draft guidance currently out to consultation on appropriate behaviour when teaching drama in schools. However, an article in the Pendennis column of yesterday's Observer has broached this subject once more.

They report that Melvyn Bragg has booked outspoken playwright, Mark Ravenhill, for the South Bank Show's forthcoming edition about Romeo and Juliet. Apparently, Mr. Ravenhill feels strongly that the alleged ban on kissing in Welsh schools is rubbish. "'The idea that Romeo cannot kiss Juliet makes a mockery of drama' says a source at the SBS. 'He'll go round schools encouraging plenty of kissing - boys with boys, girls with girls...'"

Putting aside the fact that both Melvyn Bragg and Mark Ravenhill have got completely the wrong end of the stick and that the proposed guidance would not ban kissing in a production of Romeo and Juliet, do either of them really want to go down this road? This guidance was drafted in response to an inquiry which investigated a drama teacher who misused his position to abuse children for his own sexual gratification over a sustained period of time. It has all-party support in the Welsh Assembly and enables drama teachers to teach their subject in an appropriate manner, providing safeguards for the protection of the children whilst not compromising artistic integrity.

The South Bank Show can have its fun if it wishes but in doing so the programme's producers should be aware that they are campaigning to keep open a loophole, which has already been exploited by one child abuser and may be exploited by others. Surely, even they can see that this is not a responsible position to take and that some more research is necessary to get their facts right before they do irreparable damage, which will blight the lives of many children for years to come.
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