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Monday, 5 November, 2001, 11:43 GMT
Harry Potter 'occult' warning
Harry Potter
The Harry Potter phenomenon has reached the cinema
A teachers' leader has warned young Harry Potter fans about the risks of "dabbling" in the darker side of the occult.

As the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is about to appear on cinema screens across the United Kingdom, a warning about the dangers of the supernatural has been issued by Peter Smith, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

According to Mr Smith, children who had enjoyed the magic and wizardry of the stories should be careful about extending their interest in the occult.

Although saying that the stories were a positive way of showing the struggle between good and evil, he was worried that they could be used as a springboard for exploring more sinister aspects of the occult.


And he warned that children could be using the internet to learn more about "meddling" with the supernatural.

"Increasing numbers of children are spending hours alone browsing the Internet in search of satanic websites. ATL is concerned that nobody is monitoring this growing fascination.

Peter Smith
Peter Smith is worried about children exploring the "darker side of the occult"

"The surge in interest in the occult is, at its best, a welcome stimulus to children's imagination and personal growth. 

"Children, particularly girls on the cusp of puberty, have always been interested in magic and in parallel worlds. Casting spells gives them a feeling of control over an increasingly confusing world at a time when many youngsters feel powerless.

"But there is a darker side to the occult which may disturb vulnerable children and expose them to manipulation by adults.  Parents and teachers will want to educate young people about the dangers of dabbling in the occult, before they become too deeply involved.

"The Harry Potter movie will lead to a whole new generation of youngsters discovering witchcraft and wizardry.  We welcome the values this will ingrain, focusing on good triumphing over evil.  Though it is important not to over-react to this fun and entertaining phenomenon, the risks are clear.

"Children must be protected from the more extreme influences of the occult and be taught in a responsible and positive way the risks of journeying into the unknown."

See also:

24 Sep 01 | Film
Toy shop bans Harry Potter
29 Mar 00 | Education
School bans Harry Potter
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