Should Schools Be Teaching Kids About Porn?

Children as young as nine should learn about pornography and how to view it, according to a recent report about personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education in the U.K. Ofsted (the U.K. government body that inspects schools)says that primary school children must be taught not only about the “mechanics of reproduction” but alsoabout safe sex, relationships, sexuality and, yes, pornography.

I can already hear the outrage and distaste were a proposal to teach pornography as part of sex education to quite young children be introduced in the U.S.!

Look a bit more closely at Ofsted’s rationale and, whether you think 9-year-olds should learn how to view pornography or not, it’s clear that the impetus is to better prepare students for the realities presented by the world today.

PSHE educationcurrently focuses overly much on “teaching about friendships,” leaving them poorly prepared for puberty, says the report. “Children as young as nine are increasingly accessing pornographic internet sites,” Ofsted points out, and without sex education that acknowledges such, children could be at risk of being subjected to “sexual exploitation” or “inappropriate behavior.”

178 students who were interviewed for the report noted they are taught about abortion and contraception. But they also said they felt that sex education instruction “avoided discussing controversial topics such as sexual abuse, homosexuality and pornography.” The result is that the safety of children and teenagers is being compromised as they are not receiving help in protecting themselves “from unwanted physical or sexual contact or sexual exploitation.” Says Ofsted:

Lack of high-quality, age-appropriate sex and relationships education in more than a third of schools is a concern as it may leave children and young people vulnerable to inappropriate sexual behaviours and sexual exploitation. This is because they have not been taught the appropriate language or developed the confidence to describe unwanted behaviours or know where to go to for help.

AstheGuardian points out, ChildLine counsellors say they are receiving more and more — around 50 — calls a month from “teenagers upset by pornography.” Simply shielding children from such websites and teaching them about “friendships and relationships” could have the unintended effect of endangering them.

Should Schools Be Responsible for Teaching Students about Pornography?

The call for training teachers to instruct students about the dangers of pornography comes from the U.K.’s Association of Teachers and Lecturers. The union has passed a resolution that “schools must ensure that pornography does not become seen as so normal that youngsters expect it to be part of everyday life.”

The U.K.’s Department for Education is indeed leaving it up to teachers to “the freedom to tailor their teaching so it meets the needs of their pupils’ as “the best people to fix this problem are teachers on the ground, not politicians in Westminster.”

As Elizabeth Schroeder, the executive director ofAnswer, a national sex-education organization based at Rutgers University, said to the New York Times in 2012: “Your child is going to look at porn at some point. Its inevitable.” She also says that “if we flip out, freak out or go crazy about it, were giving a very set message,” one that leads children to feel they will be “judged or punished” if they ask about pornography. Other experts note that the most common mistake parents make about pornography on the Internet is “to wait to have the conversation until some incident precipitates it.”

Ofsted is taking a pro-active stance in calling for children to be taught about pornography. It goes without saying that the Internet has become a routine part of any students’ education; teachers are seeking a way to address the fact that, on the Internet’s “information highway,” students are just going to encounter inappropriate content. Instead of nervously shooing away or outright shielding children from a pornography site, the Ofsted report calls for instructing them about it and preparing them in advance.

Is this asking too much from teachers? Could such instruction backfire?

Or is Ofsted’s proposal a timely acknowledgement of what we need to prepare children for in the Internet age?

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Photo from Thinkstock

619 comments

Scott Hunt
Scott Hunt2 years ago

I think the governments are more perverted than anyone. What an incredibly immoral institution to start than porn for children. Will they be shown every kind of filth that is available and where would it stop? Largest no on this than anything else!

Catchy Orange
Maria Guimaraes2 years ago

I think it is not a good idea .

Barbara P.
Barbara P.2 years ago

I do not think teaching kids about porn is appropriate in schools. Parents should warn kids about it at an appropriate age and even talk to their kids about how demeaning it is to both men and women. Schools need to focus on teaching kids about positive things, what they want to do in the future, not fill their heads with porn!

Mary K.
Molly D.2 years ago

They don't need it, its already on Tele , magazines, etc. Give it a break !

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

children's access to this sort of thing at that age is not appropriate. where are the parents? why are children anywhere with unristricted computer use? if all parents could get the issue there wouldnt be one. 9 years old! thats 4th grade! let them be CHILDREN for F#$%@ sake!

Amy Stotler
Amy Stotler3 years ago

I think education like this should remain in the hands of parents.

Valerie A.
Valerie A.3 years ago

Children should stay innocent for as long as possible, being a grown up is not as much fun as children think it is.

But.... Things are different today, the internet is here now and children are accessing things they shouldn't, no matter how strict or careful parents are. Mischief is a part of life and that is all it is to children of that age.

Making something taboo, only makes it more appealing, maybe telling them all this stuff and watching them see porn would be so embarrassing it may curb their curiosity, make them more informed so they will wait until the right time to act.

I do think that nine is a bit young though, what will it be in 2015? 7? And what about in 2040? Will they be setting up video links in the womb?

N R CULCLASURE
N R C.3 years ago

NO.

Darryll Green
Darryll Green3 years ago

next thing you know they will be teaching them how to have sex, a line has to be drawn somewhere to protect the children from idiots like these, they don't need to know this shit, they need to be taught how to avoid things like this, let them have their childhood

Patricia H.
Patricia H.3 years ago

of course NOT