To consider children as identical because they are all the same age, and on this basis to impose on them an education in sex, birth and intimacy, is in itself a psychic invasion. Discrimination is defined in two inevitably linked ways: treating identical people in different ways, or treating different people in the same way. Politicians knowingly play on this confusion, using children’s well-being as a pretext to introduce an ideology into schools that has no place there.
If we’re convinced that children need to be listened to, do we need to systematically and consistently teach them about identity, gender and coming into the world, right from early childhood? From our professional and parental points of view, it’s a question of doing it according to their individual evolution! Every child is unique, and this learning process is an integral part of his or her intimacy. Imposing these themes in advance, before questions have arisen according to their personal awakening, is a psychic intrusion. Handing them over to systematic information could therefore do more damage than the alleged benefits sought.
However, it’s important to introduce them to the notion of privacy. How do you do it? It’s a subject worth exploring. In our view, however, it is not sufficient to justify the content of EVRAS. Under the pretext of prevention, we’re talking about violating the mental privacy of children whose tradition of thought is known only to their parents. The wrong words can send a person into a state of stupefaction and cause a misunderstanding.
Intimacy links children to oral tradition, family values and transgenerational relationships. No teacher or trainer can speak for that! For the most part, do we really need a program, when common sense would do? Preventing aggression; inducing in children the awareness that their bodies belong to them, should be « talked about » on all occasions, i.e. precisely when it can be talked about and with any adult in charge of children. Current events that affect them, a child’s behavior towards another child, a different pupil, an animal event, the birth of a little brother or sister — in short, anything that takes place in a child’s daily life, whatever their age, can give rise to this kind of parenthesis.
Impromptu questions/answers/dialogues. Perhaps it’s adults, including parents, rather than the children themselves, who could benefit from an introduction designed to help them respond appropriately and in moderation to children’s questions. When it comes to discourse on gender, it seems to us that reflection should be much more elaborate than it is today. The fact that more and more teenagers are questioning their gender, and that so many of them (especially in the USA) want to change it, raises serious ethical, ideological, philosophical, spiritual and scientific (endocrine disruptors?) questions for our contemporary societies. It seems that current responses are hasty, impregnated by the effects of fashion, and poorly rooted in the wealth of knowledge accumulated over the last hundred years concerning the construction of identity in children and adolescents. And this even if it means questioning the views of a patriarchy with multiple blind spots. We’re living in transitional, intranquil times, shaken by serious questions of planetary survival. Teenagers are particularly hard hit, as they are the ones through whom change comes. Do we pay enough attention to their status as a symptom of a society in search of new fathers? Maybe they want to change sex because they don’t feel capable or equipped to change the world? Having worked for many years as a teacher and as a psychoanalyst or psychotherapist, we can confirm that young people are thirsty!
Some of Evras’ points are taken for granted, imposing points of view that go beyond mere information, as they are tinged with ideology (woke, transgender, etc.). These subjects should retain the interrogative mode, as the answer should be delicate, fundamentally personal and not alienated. « Don’t judge » pornography? Doesn’t this mean superimposing tolerance aimed at adults
whose sexualities are supposed to be mature, with the malleability of an adolescent mind? Doesn’t this encourage them to take to the Web to find images and films that can have a devastating effect on their young imaginations? Isn’t this trivializing a certain approach to sexuality at a time when young people should be able to discover it on their own or through other sources, always respectful of their integrity? Shouldn’t we be warning them against this easy access to pornography and its polluting consequences on the development of their sexuality, i.e. on their perception of the Other?
And above all, work on how to prohibit access to underage children! Is it really urgent to talk about the latest scientific advances in fertilization? Wouldn’t this deprive them of a path of personal quest if they were to be confronted with these problems? Is it necessary to « unveil » the notion of masturbation to small children, even though some of them indulge in it: isn’t this completely contradictory with the notion of intimacy? Why bring up the latest gender « theories » to children who have no preconceived ideas on the subject? Because if a girl behaves like a boy, isn’t it just nice to give her a train instead of a doll, without comment? And if the boy wants a doll, what’s the problem? Does this mean we have to tell them, from an early age, that it’s possible to change sex?
As for « sexting », we can see in our practices that while the theory may seem simple, the practice is far less so! Adolescent children indulge in sexting as a way of opposing authority, or as a way of « doing as the others do », if not to be tolerated in the group, but then bitterly regret it. The consequences are anorexia, bulimia, self-mutilation…
Politicians, inspired by their advisors (who?), are imposing increasingly « out-of-touch » visions on a population losing its bearings, in other words, cut off from the reality of each child’s own age and maturity/sensitivity. They seem to ignore, if not outright turn away from, the warnings issued by professionals in the field immediately grappling with children’s and adults’ mental health. These ideological decisions are gradually shifting the way we think, and running the risk of generating psychic states in our societies that can be described as « psychotic ». The hallmark of psychosis is a break with reality.
By repeatedly adulating singular situations in the media — which certainly deserve attention,
(GPA, transgender people, homosexuality) by presenting them in a way that encourages
as references and/or models of identification, don’t we generate more questions than we can answer?
a of answers at the risk of overwhelming our children, who are by definition vulnerable and malleable?
Is it not also a serious impediment to freedom of thought to answer questions not yet formulated by them?
Anne Schaub, Psychologist — Psychotherapist specializing in psychological trauma
Early Childhood Development — Author and Lecturer
Séphora Thomas, Psychoanalyst, Art Historian, Visual Artist, Author and Teacher.
Editorial caption (A.P.)