Sunday, July 26, 2009

Aussie Teens Need Permission Slip to Watch Breastfeeding

Kids in an Australian high school were all set to watch a breastfeeding demonstration . . . until their teachers pulled the plug. It turns out the kids were supposed to get permission slips to see a woman’s boob.

Did anyone check to see if the baby had permission?

The demonstration at a Melbourne high school was apparently part of a class on the life cycle, and that included feeding of a baby. A mom from the Australian Breastfeeding Association was all ready to come into the school with her four-month-old and subject herself to what I imagine would be giggling and silly questions from a bunch of teenagers (because what else would you expect from kids’ whose parents need to sign permission slips for them to see a baby have breakfast?).

But the principal said the school wanted to be “sensitive” to the various nationalities of the students.

Except Australian laws dictate moms have a right to breastfeed. And if the kids are in Australia, attending Australian school, shouldn’t they be “doing as the Australians do?”

The sudden change smacks of sexualizing a non-sexual act, and it’s a dangerous time to do it. High school kids are at an age when they’re still developing as sexual beings. Breasts, particularly, are a big focus for both boys and girls. It never hurts to remind them that they have a function . . . and get them prepared for one day when that function will be good for their kids.

I’ve noticed fewer teen mothers seem to breastfeed than older moms, and although I can recognize how hard it is (and was for me), I’d be curious to see how different the reasons teens have for opting out might be from older moms. Might it be because they still find breasts as sexual instead of functional? Anecdotally, I’ve watched each episode of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, and just one mom - who I interviewed for Babble a few weeks ago - breastfed on camera during any of the episodes. She was also the only teen mom to use bottles which contained a liner commonly used by breastmilk pumping mothers.

Do you think the school should have to get parental permission for teens to see something they could see on any beach, park bench or restaurant?

Image: EcoStreet

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