Saturday, November 28, 2020
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Sharon James: Sex education in schools? No Mr Gove, ‘Planet Porn’ is not appropriate

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Parenthood changes everything.

Often those who argue loudest for ‘freedom’ for consenting adults to watch what they like, become a lot more protective when it comes to the potential impact of porn  on the self-image of their own twelve year-old daughter.

Most parents want their own children free from porn and its effects, much more strongly than they want other adults to be free for porn.

It’s unsurprising then that many parents would like schools to address this issue. The problem is that they trust the schools to help children navigate the horrors of what’s out there. They would expect teachers to deliver a loud ‘Keep Away ‘ warning.

That’s just what won’t be delivered if schools use resources recommended by the government funded Sex Education Forum. The underlying philosophy behind the resources entitled ‘Planet Porn’, produced by Bish Training, is that children and young people need help ‘interpreting porn’.

They are told:

‘Sex is great. And porn can be great. It’s the idea that porn sex is like real sex which is the problem. But if you can separate the fantasy from the reality you’re much more likely to enjoy both.’  

The assumption is that porn is morally neutral, and young people must be helped to navigate around it. Planet porn offers alternative views:

‘Porn is bad?’ Some people think that pornography is harmful. Some former porn stars have left the industry and campaign against it, saying that it exploits people, tells lies, and hurts people watching it. ‘Porn is good?’ But some people think that porn is good.  Women get paid more than men. Porn can show men and women positively too, and can help people explore their sexuality’. What do you think?”

Porn is not morally neutral. It is highly addictive. It objectifies women. It exploits the vulnerable. It destroys relationships. Those who get hooked seek satisfaction in increasingly extreme ways.

Incredibly, the ‘Educational Guide to Porn’ advertised on the Planet Porn website even has to carry its own warning

‘This contains graphic sexual references and cartoon images. Not recommended for under 14s.’

That says it all.

Young people are given unequivocal ‘Just Say No’ messages about drink-driving because we value their safety. We don’t lay out the moral alternatives:  ‘Some people enjoy drinking and driving – others don’t think it’s safe – what do you think?’

When we send our children to school in the morning, we don’t want them to be free to explore the options, and then conclude that porn is a great idea.  If the classroom can’t be a no-go zone for porn, where can our children be safe?

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Sharon James
Sharon James is a Social Policy Analyst for the Christian Institute

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