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Is it time to teach children about porn? What do you think?

(81 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 28-Nov-12 10:25:21

How should children be educated about porn? Is this a subject that should be taught in schools, by parents - or not at all?

Education minister Liz Truss has announced that schools were free to teach children about pornography as part of 'age appropriate' non-obligatory PSHE studies. Her intervention comes shortly after a recommendation by the National Association of Headteachers that students should be told about pornography from the age of 10, to help them protect themselves from stumbling across adult images.

Elsewhere, Childline have reported a spike in calls from children who've been traumatised by doing so, and a study last month revealed that increasing numbers of children are being exposed to porn before they become sexually active, giving them a distorted idea of what sex actually is.

What do you think? Is it time to forewarn children about pornography before they come across it? And if so, is the classroom the best place to do it? Tell us what you think - and of you blog on this, do let us know your URL: we'll be sure to tweet it.

StephanieDA Fri 07-Dec-12 19:23:59

I wrote my blog on this subject this week if anyone wants to take a look: www.communicatingwithkids.com/online-porn

Writehand Tue 11-Dec-12 15:48:23

Smudging wrote: My Dss was shown a woman being fucked with a various implements before he had had his first kiss sad

I know how you feel. Same here with my Dss. It does seem sad. I didn't see anything like that until I was over 20. Porn is pretty universal for kids these days, but then back in pre-industrial times things weren't much prettier.

Country children would've been watching animals mate from the time they could toddle. OK, there can be some grandeur in horse breeding (they're such beautiful animals), but you definitely wouldn't want to witness pigs mating just before lunch! grin

And as for females being abused or passive -- female farm animals get a rotten deal in terms of fun or respect. Not a cheerful way of learning the facts of life.

Writehand Tue 11-Dec-12 16:16:26

Hi, morethanpotatoprints. You say "It seems unfair that the children of responsible adults should have to be educated about porn, because irresponsible parents don't monitor or even encourage their dc to become involved by providing the tools."

I think you're being a bit naive if you think it's only irresponsible parents whose kids access porn. Have you realised how ubiquitous it is?

If you read my post you'll see that even carefully secured systems can be outwitted by computer-savvy primary school kids. And how are you - or any of us - to monitor the fine detail of what happens in other people's houses? Even with child-safety software installed there's still every chance that your dc's friends will find a way to access porn.

Any child with a smart phone can access porn - witness another poster's child's exposure to graphic lesbian porn on the bus of all places.

And - from my post again - my other child got some truly dreadful stuff attached to a totally innocent music file he wanted to hear.

I know it's tempting to think that your own children are safe because you're a responsible parent, but my experience (and that of many other posters here) is that parental precautions are not enough however responsible you are. You can ban any sort of net device from the house, keep your children indoors at all times, off the bus and out of other people's houses, and the little darlings (or a friend) may still hack their friend's child-safety software. Or get shown gross material on someone else's phone.

It's sad, but it seems to be everywhere. And kids are curious. They may be sorry later, but by that time they've looked.

Refreshingly balanced approach, thanks for sharing. It's a conversation I am not looking forward to having, and it's nice to see genuine communication work.

Sorry, I was trying to reply to Writehand's first post.

It was interesting too to read Gulp's comments, as I suspect that one of the issues about teaching it in schools, is to do with addressing different levels of awareness and exposure in children. To me, that's one of the inherent difficulties with agreeing how and what should be included in any curriculeum.

I agree also it would (in some cases) be difficult to discuss porn without examples, but not impossible. Perhaps one of the issues is how to ensure best practice, as I can see some efforts compounding the problem (and how do you prevent teaching about porn from merging into its acceptance?)

Personally, I would like to see the issues tackled at all levels and not left to schools to plug the gaps. Whether or not tackling porn in school sex education lessons is necessary or not (and sadly it might be), what is the message we are sending out? Don't take any notice of this prevalent porn, it doesn't bear much relation to "real" sex (or how we should treat women) but we tolerate the images and messages it is sending out everyday?

The message is in what we do, not just what we teach.

Totally agree sexual bullying should form part of the discussion. NIA have just published a guide to sexual bullying for parents.

www.niaendingviolence.org.uk/perch/resources/parents-guide-to-sexual-bullying.pdf

I agree also with other posters. Kids in prmiary schools should not be accessing smart phones in school. Above all, schools should be providing a safe environment. That may well mean tackling sensitively things like porn and sexual bullying when appropriate, but it also means not exposing children to risks like internet porn.

Parental controls may go some way to protecting them at home but as other posts suggests this isn't fail-proof. Communication is key.

I have blogged about the Children Commissioner's research and recommendations at

crewcutandnewt.com/2013/05/24/its-about-more-than-the-birds-and-bees/

It's a fascinating topic, that will probably run and run. Just hope that there is no simplistic one-size-fits all solution and that parents' views are fully taken into account, as well as the needs of children. Not all parents will address the issue and so I can see the need for schools to step in (as well as argument that schools can add something positive to the debate). However, in many cases, parents will have a good, if not better, understanding of their child's needs.

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