Free To Choose
Who's your Valentine? (Valentine’s Day, 14 February)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore understanding of the issue of forced marriage (SEAL theme: Managing feelings).
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and two female readers, one student and one adult.
- Have available the TrueTube video Forced Marriage Is Not Part of My Culture and the means to show it during the assembly (available at: www.truetube.co.uk/film/forced-marriage). It is 7.35 minutes long.
- Have available the song ‘Crazy little thing called love’ by Queen and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.
Leader It's Valentine's Day today. I wonder how many of you chose to send a Valentine's card or maybe a red rose today?
For some of you it would have been an expected gesture – I suspect you'd have been in a lot of trouble if you hadn't sent one! Nevertheless, even if there was a little pressure, it was your choice to send the card or rose.
What's really lovely is when you make a totally personal choice to send a card. You like someone and you want them to get a hint as to how you feel about them. Maybe you're totally up front, signing your name clearly. Maybe you send a card anonymously, a little embarrassed, even scared, of the consequences if you're recognized. Possibly you've given the person a clue, so the recipient can respond if he or she wishes. The choice is yours and the choice is theirs.
Sometimes, however, there's no choice at all.
Show the TrueTube video Forced Marriage Is Not Part of My Culture.
Reader It's not like that for me, here, in this part of (name school’s location). I'm not likely to be kidnapped and forced to marry someone I've never met before in my life. I'm totally free to make my own decisions. I choose whom I want to go out with and when I want to dump them. This is the twenty-first century and we live in Britain. Women and girls are liberated.
That's right, isn't it?
Time for reflection
Leader Let's think for a moment about what actually happens as you take on a boyfriend or girlfriend. I wonder if you've ever found yourself in any of these situations?
Reader (student) We don't want you to feel left out, so we've invited someone to go with you. We're all in couples and you'd be on your own otherwise.
Reader (adult) Why don't you go down to join those nice young people at the church Youth Club rather than hanging around on street corners?
Reader (student)We don't mix with them. We don't like their music, we don't like the way they dress and we don't like their style. So your choice is us or him.
Reader (adult) In our culture it's normal to marry someone from a family with good prospects, someone who will provide for his wife and family.
Reader (student) Why don't you want a boyfriend? Everyone else wants one. Are you weird or something?
Leader The pressure to conform to the expectations of others can be very strong when it comes to the central relationship of our lives – the person we plan to spend the rest of our life with or the next few months, at least. We can agree to disagree with our parents, friends and carers about careers, dress, how we spend our leisure time, but disagreements about a close personal relationship are usually more difficult.
Parents and carers often want to have a say because they've been there before. They've experienced the pain of bad choices and are trying to help you avoid making the same mistakes. In addition, they have their ambitions for you and don't want to see you sidetracked or getting into situations you can't control. The problem is that their control can sometimes be rather strong. Occasionally, they may have their own agenda, as in the video we watched.
Friends also can be very mixed in their motives. Your best friends want you to have a good time and not be lonely. Others, however, can feel a little threatened when you step outside of the norm. They may not have the strength of character to be so independent. Then there are those who are out to have a laugh . . . at your expense.
I hope you have a good time today. I hope there are some new romances kindled. I do hope also that no hearts get broken. Enjoy the fun of this festival. Don't allow yourself to be pressurized, either into or out of a relationship. Remember, it's your choice.
Thank you for the pleasure of a new, close relationship, getting to know one another and sharing new experiences.
Remind us that a healthy relationship is not just for our benefit but also for the benefit of the other person and, in the end, makes our wider relationships better, too.
Finally, here's a piece of music to get you in the mood for love!
‘Crazy little thing called love’ by Queen