Recently, ABC and CNN reported on a controversial fundraiser used by the Elwood Community School system of Elwood, Indiana. This unique fundraiser supported the drama club of the middle school.
Apparently students in grades six through ten paid a few dollars to participate in a match making survey. They answered a few questions and in return were given the names of male and female friends that they best matched up with.
One mom complained, “I don’t believe that at 11 years of age a school should be promoting opposite sex matching.” Another parent wrote in response, “You think when your child is doing some survey it is bad that they find a match. They are not that young. They are in middle school and you can not stop them from dating. They are going to do it even if you say no…unless you are some sort of bible thumper.”
And my favorite response was from the school superintendent. He called it harmless and said, “I approved the fundraiser and I knew about the content of the survey and it’s just a good way for kids to have a little fun…” He said he had been doing it for 15 years and no one had protested, but if they did he would consider dropping it in the future.
I am all for kids having some fun. I think the laughter of children is one of the purest expressions of joy there is this side of heaven. But, (and that is a big “BUT”) I really can’t imagine a school official that believes matching up 11 year olds with the opposite sex is a good exercise regardless of the fundraising project. The truth is, the potential for misplaced emphasis is so high! Instead of promoting and protecting the innocence of children for as long as is possible, actions like these tend to put the “development” of our kids at warp speed.
Michael Medved, (the author of Hollywood vs. America Popular Culture and the War on Traditional Values) reminds us (in an article at www.mfc.org) that there used to be a consensus throughout Western society that affirmed the priority of protecting our children. “The notion that there are several years in a child’s development where you need to build a wall around that child to allow the little boy or girl to grow and develop in peace and security…before the world intrudes and assaults” is being scrapped. Our culture used to stand with one voice and declare that the innocence of our kids must be protected. Sadly, that focus has shifted.
In Ephesians 6:4 Dads (and by extension Moms) are exhorted to bring their children up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Modern versions of the Bible might say to raise the children in the “training and instruction of the Lord.” Surely the nurture or training of a child must include the protection of their innocence.
Perhaps this week, we might all pause and ask ourselves the question, “How am I doing protecting my child?” And consider more than just the protection from strangers or those who would do bodily harm. Lets take seriously the injunction to NURTURE them by protecting the development of their character.