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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Phone and data laws to be passed in haste

Andrew Grice
The first lesson of today is... don't treat women unequally?  

Yvette Cooper is right: The classroom is the best place to start teaching men about feminism

Chris Maume
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice