Section 28 and parents blamed

3rd March 2000 at 00:00
BEING a head can produce different strains. The Fraud Squad is investigating a Roman Catholic school where the head, a former nun, is alleged to have used school funds to lease a pound;500-a-month Toyota Lexus and take her family and senior staff on day trips on the Orient Express. Teachers complained she inhibited book-buying.

Both computers and poor parenting seem to be getting in the way of a full social life. According to a new survey, hours spent surfing the Internet are not just replacing hours spent in front of the telly - they're replacing hours at the pub too. And people's growing inability to form intimate relationships is caused by punitive or over-critical parents, which makes them put up barriers in childhood, says Robert Firestone, a clinical psychologist from Santa Barbara, California.

Violent parents are also blamed for raising aggressive boys in a new book from the US paediatrician Eli Newberger. Boys need to be encouraged to show and exprss their feelings and - crucially - should neither witness nor suffer any violence, not so much as a slap, he says. Activities such as competitive sport tend to promote boys' biological propensity to aggression.

A call to tone down aggression has come from the head of one of Britain's most famous sporting schools, Millfield in Somerset. Peter Johnson accuses some independent schools of provoking bad behaviour by instilling a "win at all costs" mentality.

Teenagers in a study of sex education by the University of Brighton have called for more information about lust and desire, and expressed fury that legislation like Section 28 has left them uninformed about sexual relationships. Step in the Channel 4 teen soap Hollyoaks, which is to feature a male rape scene on March 15. It's not a ratings stunt, say producers at Mersey Television, it's going out after the 9pm watershed and it's "emotionally rather than physically explicit". Such a relief.

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