Should porn be taught within sex education in schools?
You don’t need the surveys to figure out that children know way more about sex than anyone would like to think they do. You also don’t have to be a genius to realise that the children viewing pornography are getting younger and younger.
What does demand some serious thought is should the effects of pornography become part of sex education. I think it’s a no-brainer.
The previous day BBC Radio 1 broke the story that the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) have come out in support of the idea that “children should be taught in an age appropriate way [from as young as 10] about the effects of pornography.”
The time has come to talk about this stuff! And not a moment too soon.
Firstly notice the should. Secondly within this same article the National Union for Teachers (NUT) described the idea as ‘a step too far’ – OK, so a step too far for who?
What we have here is hard evidence that pornography is having a detrimental effect on relationships and yet the shutters are still coming down about educating people about it.
What shocks me is that the rules that have been put in place to stop the sexualisation of society in the Media (and rightly they should) – watersheds, the uproar from raunchy performances on The X-factor, children taught that the airbrushed images in magazines are not real, all of this shows we are making progress to protecting our youth inappropriate images, yet the same principals are not being similarly applied to porn.
Learning about pornography is as integral to sex education as putting on a condom. Why as a society we are still sat on the fence about teaching the effects of pornography in schools when children are able to watch someone get tied up, gagged, asphyxiated and gang banged all before they have even lost their virginity is beyond me.
It's time to intervene when children are taking explicit cum-on-my-face nonsense, as a normal representation of sex, so we need to start speaking out about porn and sex in a frank and engaging way in schools, and we need to start now.
The low down:
As technology advances our ability to handle the consequences as a society have stayed pretty stagnant.
While 11 and 12 year olds etc are watching designer vaginas, spit roasts and plenty of other x-rated images in porn, sex education is mainly condoms on bananas, awkward laughter and a few questions about the Pill.
Educating children about pornography is not a disservice to teachers, and neither is it a call to ban porn. Including porn in sex education is actually a step forward to give future generations the necessary skills to deal with the reality of the highly sexualised world they live in.
Ask yourself how much valuable knowledge you learnt about sex at school and I guarantee you will know what I mean.
The fact is PHSE which teaches relationship and sex education isn’t even compulsory across England like other parts of the UK. What's worse is that the National Union for Teachers says: “Schools should only talk about it [porn] if asked by students.”
But I can't see it happening; “Miss have you seen 'Anal Gang Bang 3,' is that what really goes on?”
It might sound patronising, of course this issue won’t affect everyone, of course some children can see pass the fake tits and even faker orgasms. But with attitudes towards sex changing, we arguably live in the most sexually charged society of all time and we need our youth to be equipped for dealing with it.
Why this needs to change:
In 2009 Cindy Gallop, legendary Ad giant and founder of MakeLoveNotPorn.com spoke at the TED conference about the effects of ‘porn sex’ on ‘real sex’ and how despite the obvious differences the two have somehow merged into one messy myth. How did she know? From her own experience of dating twenty-something men and seeing that they only pulled porn star moves in the bedroom.
Anna Richardson even went into schools in 2011 in a TV documentary called ‘The Sex Education Show’ to try and combat a bit of what was going on, only then to realise quite how serious the idea of porn-norm had become. Plus Psychologies ‘Put Porn in its Place’ campaign unearthed these figures when they canvassed views of 14-16 year olds in a school in North London:
• Almost one-third first looked at sexual images online when they were aged 10 or younger.
• 81 per cent look at online porn while they are at home.
• 75 per cent say their parents have never discussed online porn with them.
The Metro and Prof Phippen has unearthed that men and women are unable to ‘perform in the real world’ and are speaking in highly sexualised language towards girls from as young as 11. Sharon Chapman, Relate counsellor says: ‘for girls it’s often about doing things which they perhaps wouldn’t normally be comfortable with’. So the main components of any successful sexual relationship have been taken away: respect and communication.
It’s now 2012 and compared to a generation ago, compared even to three years ago, we live in a world where children are given easier access to the explicit and pornographic world through the internet and mobile phone technology. There’s no point burying your head in the sand, at some point they are going to look and what’s the counterpoint when they do?
Cindy Gallop has come back into the media attention after releasing MakeLoveNotPorn.tv – a website showing the difference between sex and pornography through real life sex videos. She makes a good point about sex education in this country: “The conversation about sex used to be purely logistical. The conversation you should be having today is: ‘We know you’re online, we know you might be watching hard-core porn but we have to explain to you, not all women like to be tied up, raped, gang banged, choked or for men to cum all over them and not all men like that either."
What are the chances anyone will do this?
Like it or not porn is in our society and it's here to stay, what we should be concentrating on is not how to wriggle out from underneath it but how to make sure that we can cope. You only have to look at what’s happened to attitudes towards sex over the few years to see what a culture of sweeping it under the carpet can lead to. It's time to start teaching the difference between sex and porn, now.