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

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

**ESOL**

£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job:* The Tutor will prepar...

Qualified Teaching Assistant Jobs in Blackpool

Negotiable: Randstad Education Preston: Qualified Teaching Assistant Jobs in B...

*****English/Maths Teacher*****

£110 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Preston: English/Maths Teacher require...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Photo issued by Flinders University of an artist's impression of a Microbrachius dicki mating scene  

One look at us Scots is enough to show how it was our fishy ancestors who invented sex

Donald MacInnes
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp  

Oscar Pistorius sentence: Judge Masipa might have shown mercy, but she has delivered perfect justice

Chris Maume
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album