03:17 GMT29 January 2020
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    Norwegian broadcaster NRK has sparked controversy by asking pre-teens, who can't necessarily tie their shoelaces, adult questions about sexuality.

    The broadcaster's children's channel, NRK Super, which is estimated to have a target audience of 100,000 children aged between 2 and 12, used its app to survey its subscribers on matters of sexual orientation and preferences, the newspaper Dagen reported.

    Tens of thousands of children woke up to a push notification with a pop-up “response-o-meter” about their sexual orientation. Among others, the children were invited to answer the following question: “Are you gay, hetero or something in between?” There, they had to choose between descriptions like “I like both boys and girls” and answer intimate questions on self-identification.

    NRK's questionnaire sparked allegations of sexualising children.

    “Asking children, obviously very young ones, this kind of question is deeply problematic for several reasons. First, this is tantamount to the sexualisation of childhood, that Norwegian pupils needn't be exposed to. Let children be children. The challenges of the adult world will come in due time”, Vebjørn Selbekk, the editor-in-chief of the Christian newspaper Dagen wrote.

    Selbekk also tweeted that he was alarmed by it “as a father, taxpayer and member of the Norwegian Broadcasting Council”.

    “Children in this target group do not sit and reflect on sexuality, just as they also do not spend time contemplating ethnicity or religion. When they end up doing this, they are dominated by adults, who impose their own ideological motives,” writer and former regional leader of Young Conservatives Preben Dimmen wrote in an opinion piece at Document.no.

    According to him, NRK stepped over the parents' toes and forced the children, who cannot necessarily tie their shoelaces, to decide on complex issues they are not yet ready for.

    ​Even Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, a physician and professor of sexology at the University of Agder, who happens to be one of Norway's most prominent trans people, suggested that it was “an adult question” to ask children.

    When confronted by Dagen, NRK Super project manager Frank Sivertsen, answered with a question of his own: “What's wrong with asking children about their orientation?”

    NRK is the Norwegian government-owned radio and television public broadcasting company, and the largest media organisation in Norway. It broadcasts three national TV channels and three national radio channels. Over 90 percent of NRK's funding comes from a mandatory annual licence fee payable by anyone who owns or uses a TV or device capable of receiving TV broadcast.


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    sexual orientation, children, NRK, Scandinavia, Norway
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