Teaching children about sex: Pornography lessons in schools, anyone?

Schools Minister Liz Truss has said there is nothing to prevent schools from adding porn education to lessons - but showing children porn won't educate them about sex.

Share
Related Topics

Do you want teachers to give your kids lessons about the evils of pornography?

Some children are already addicted. They swap hard core images on their phones in the playground and they know, often better than their parents how to access it on computers.

A sober study -  led by Professor Andy Pippen, lecturer in social responsibility in Information Technology, at Plymouth University – published last month found that some users are as young as 11. They develop ‘unrealistic expectations’ of sex which lead to cases such as the one in June of a boy, aged 12 at the time, who raped a nine year-old girl after watching pornography online.

There is undoubtedly a problem. Childline counsellors have confirmed an increase in calls from children upset by pornography and deputy children’s commissioner, Sue Berelowitz asserts that internet pornography is a factor in at least half the cases of gang-based sex attacks. And we’re not talking about the odd photograph of a pretty young woman with shapely breasts such as teenage boys have always panted over.

Liz Truss, Schools Minister, has now pointed out that there is nothing to prevent schools from adding pornography education to sex and relationships work, if they wish – and, indeed if they teach sex and relationships at all. The latter is not compulsory in England although it is in other parts of the UK. The National Association of Headteachers has called for pornography awareness to be taught from age 10.

Now, I don’t actually have a solution to this problem but I am absolutely certain that formally trying to teach children about the dangers of pornography will only make things worse. 

You cannot teach children successfully about anything using theory only – witness the much derided condom on a banana lesson. It isn’t a procedure you can learn theoretically. You need to see it and do it.

If you’re going to alert children to the dangers of pornography you will have to show them some – thereby completely defeating the object. There will be some pupils to whom this will be new. What a good way of introducing them to it as well as encouraging the ones who’ve already discovered it. You wouldn’t pass a joint round a classroom as a way of teaching children about the dangers of cannabis, would you? Well, the same principle applies.  

In practice, of course, no teacher is likely to risk being accused of sharing porn with children so mentions, if they get into lessons at all, will be unillustrated and therefore ineffective.  And what happens if you try to tell children that there’s this foul, horrible, corruptive stuff about sex which some sick people love and might try to share but which they – the nice kids in your classroom – must on no account look at in case it harms them?  Well we all know the one about the forbidden fruit. I can think of no better way to ensure that large numbers of children, curiosity aroused, then seek some pornography out to see what the fuss is about.

As a secondary English teacher I would – always and without exception – do my best to answer any question honestly and without fuss. Asked what pornography was or what I thought about it I used to explain that it involved writing, paintings, drawings photographs or films of men and women (in various combinations) touching each other or having sex and that much of it is rather nasty. In my view, sex should be something private and loving between two people, I’d tell them since they’d asked me. Then I’d move on and it was usually enough. With older groups, of course, there might be scope – if it’s relevant to the rest of the work you’re doing - to discuss, for example, why pupils think pornography is as widespread as it is, the morality of making it and whether or not it should be controlled by law.

I loathe the idea of children and young teenagers looking at some of the filth which is available on the internet with a single click in the right place – and it isn’t in the least difficult to find. I’ve just checked. Although I couldn’t get it off my screen fast enough, I typed two words (‘fuck me’) into Google, and instantly got hard core film.

David Cameron is in favour of action to curb pornography. He wants new computers to be completely blockable by parents to protect their children. There is also a call to make pornography accessible by law only to over-18s with proper verification checks. Both are good ideas although tech-savvy youngsters will enjoy the challenge of hacking through the safeguards.

What is definitely not a good idea is deliberately drawing attention to pornography in lessons at school.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
New SNP MP Mhairi Black distinguished herself in Westminster straight away when she made herself a chip butty in the canteen  

The SNP adventure arrives in Westminister - but how long before these new MPs go native?

Katy Guest
The Public Accounts Committee found widespread concern among civil servants that they would be victimised if they spoke out about wrongdoing  

Nikileaks explained: The sad thing about the Nicola Sturgeon saga is that it makes leaks less likely

Jane Merrick
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?