Should we teach our children about porn?

Alice Sholl
Contributor

[Photo: Pexels]

In a recent survey of more than 1,000 children aged 11 to 16, at least half of them had been exposed to online porn and 94% seen it by the age of 14. And of the kids interviewed as part of the report, many seemed confused about what constitutes ‘normal’ sex and what’s fantasy as a result.

Many parents will likely cringe at this – and reflect on their own run-ins and confusion surrounding their own kids’ exposure to porn – but the question remains; what can we do about it?

According to Sarah Champion, shadow women and equalities minister and author of the study, kids should be taught about the realities of pornography in school. Not at the age of the kids surveyed, by which time they will have statistically probably already viewed porn, but before they hit puberty.

But at the moment, that’s when sex education often begins – statutory guidance is for sex and relationship education to begin at key stage 3 (ages 11 to 14) and it isn’t compulsory.

[Photo: Pexels]

Talking about her Dare2Care report, Labour MP Champion told the Guardian: “The girls who I speak to say boys’ attitudes towards them change at about 11, and so we need to be there before that.

“Unless you give them the context before they see porn, it’s too late.”

Champion – whose constituency Rotherham was at the centre a child sexual exploitation scandal – said that while it’s “natural for children to be curious about sex” without good education, they’ll use porn to learn about it without fully understanding it.

“Children are regarding porn as a lesson in how to have sex, without the context or the understanding to view it as a fantasy, promoted by an industry that normalises violence against women and girls,” she explained.

[Photo: Pexels]

Most shockingly, she recounted some of the interviews she had with children, saying that one boy honestly didn’t know whether strangling was ‘normal’ in sex, and that young girls thought anal sex was obligatory.

So Champion’s idea is that we should educate kids so that they can challenge what they see online themselves – as well as know how to stay safe from abusers – before they access pornographic content blindly.

And Champion isn’t alone – the NSPCC told The Independent that it “wants porn to be discussed as part of age-appropriate sex and relationships education”, and Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO, appeared to be on the same thread.

[Photo: Pexels]

But exposing our kids to anything porn related can feel counter intuitive for parents who wish to protect their children from it altogether, however near impossible that may be.

And how would it work out logistically? Despite its beliefs about sex education, when Woman’s Hour host Jenni Murray suggested children actually watch porn in school, the NSPCC told The Huffington Post that children “need to be prevented” from watching it.

So where would the line between ‘educational’ and ‘inappropriate’ fall?

What do you think – should kids be taught about porn in school from a young age? Tweet us at @YahooStyleUK.

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