Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Tantamount to child abuse


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I TAKE ISSUE with the manner in which some religious books are used for instruction.

There are books used by various faiths that tell tales of violence, adultery, incest, buggery, sodomy, rape and so on, and are easily accessible to children of all ages.

I can understand adults reading such material for whatever reasons they may feel inclined to do so, but I believe there is no place for telling such stories to children – especially young children – in the manner in which they are often told.

Each of the world’s major religions has a book or a collection of books that represents the teachings and fundamental belief systems of that faith. Christianity has the Bible, Islam has the Quran and Judaism has the Torah. I accept this.

The material available to followers of the above mentioned religions oftentimes includes stories, prophecies and instructions for living lives of obedience and reverence to the supreme beings of these faiths. I accept this.

Young and old are exposed to these books and are expected to become familiar with the messages and meanings associated with the contents of their pages. Fair enough. But this does not mean children of all ages should be made aware of everything written in these books, where the possibility exists such material will likely affect them negatively. At the very least, the message should be watered down and yet remain accurate in its representation of events and characters.

What is most worrying is that young children are sometimes taught stories that can be interpreted as age-inappropriate, without little thought for the impact such tales can have on their impressionable minds. This is tantamount to child abuse. For child abuse does not only have to be physical. It can also involve emotional and mental scarring. No well-thinking society should want that for its children.

There is something amiss with telling a young child that God had an angel of His slaughter children that belonged to another nation.

There is something troubling about telling a child that a man of God slept with his daughters.

There is something improper about purporting that a man whom God favoured had several women as wives and concubines. What is to stop these children from thinking these actions and lifestyles were right and acceptable because they can be found in a religious book?

I firmly believe that messages should be tailored to the age groups of the recipients and so I applaud efforts to make some religious books child-friendly.



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