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Monday, 13 November, 2000, 18:59 GMT
Plea to 'get tough with girls'
nightclub
Clubs should be out of bounds, the GSA says
Parents must learn to say no to their teenage girls over such issues as sex and alcohol, the president of the Girls' School Association warned.

Speaking to the organisation's annual conference in Newport, South Wales, Lynda Warrington said parents must take responsibility rather than leaving discipline to teachers alone.


Parents do not want to risk a confrontation and so they let them do almost anything

Lynda Warrington
The head teacher of Bradford Girls' Grammar School said many parents are too frightened to say no, in case it makes them unpopular.

"Parents have the responsibility to give their children guidelines for behaviour and not to encourage them in their unnecessary challenges to authority," Mrs Warrington said.

"Without self-discipline and without a sense of responsibility the future of society is indeed bleak."

Rebellion fear

But many fear that if they take a strict line, their children will rebel, she said.

"Parents do not want to risk a confrontation and so they let them do almost anything, believing that they are sensible and they will know what is right and wrong."

Mrs Warrington told the conference that when she told parents they should not let their 13 and 14 year olds go to pubs and clubs and should not allow sleepovers during the week because it has a detrimental effect on school work, she thought the advice was unnecessary.

"But I was amazed at the number of parents who came up to me afterwards to thank me, saying 'Now I can say no, because I can say you said so.'"

'Out-of-touch'

One of the problems for schools, Mrs Warrington suggested, is the perception that they are out-of-touch if they promote moral standards.

The media has not helped the situation, she added. Television soap operas portray teenagers whose main topics of conversation are alcohol, drugs and sex.

Magazines encourage girls in their early teens to believe they are already young adults.

And the Brook Street clinic recently published a leaflet - aimed at 14 to 16 year olds - on how to enjoy sex, ignoring the fact that underage sex is illegal, she said.

Mrs Warrington admitted that parents have a very difficult job, but warned against over-protection as it can hinder a child's development.

"If children are not allowed to take risks, they do not learn about danger," she said.

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See also:

10 Oct 00 | Health
Government 'to promote virginity'
04 Aug 00 | Health
Controversial sex book launched
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