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History of censorship - 1970

The Little Red School-Book

Controversial book The Little Red School-Book was written by two Danish schoolteachers, Soren Hansen and Jesper Jenson. It was published in English in 1971. It has been described as 'essentially a manual for kids on how to challenge the authority of the school system'. It devoted twenty of its two hundred pages to sex and thirty to drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. The rest dealt with examinations, teachers' duties, discipline, intelligence and how to work for change within the school system.

Different countries had different reactions to the book. It was censored in the UK and banned in France and Italy. In 1972 the book was classified as unrestricted in New Zealand against the wishes of morals campaigners. It was especially controversial in Australia and was debated in Parliament there.

The following is an excerpt from the Indecent Publications Tribunal decision on The Little Red School-Book:

There remains the question of a possible age restriction. It is clear that some parents have no objection to children of younger than secondary school age reading the book or to discussing it with them, while to other parents such an idea is totally repugnant. Decisions of the Tribunal do not abrogate parental responsibility; that remains, and parents are fully entitled to exercise control over their children's reading if they so wish.

The Tribunal classifies The Little Red School-Book as not indecent within the meaning of the Indecent Publications Act 1963.

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Cover of The Little Red School-Book
Cover of The Little Red School-Book