Sex Education, Porn and Child Protection

Sex Education, Porn and Child Protection

While private companies such as 2020 Dreams continue to lead the way in high quality sex education workshop delivery in schools and other institutions, the debate over sex education, porn awareness and child protection in the National Curriculum continues.

In March 2017, Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening gave the clearest signal yet that sex education is due to be given compulsory status in a bid to tackle problems such as cyberbullying, sexting and online porn. However, outside of government circles (for now) there are also some very controversial ideas which go much further and look at the possibilities of embracing the pornography industry and harnessing its popular power to provide effective sex and pornography education among vulnerable young people.

Upcoming changes to PSHE in schools

If the Education Secretary (who is also Minister for Women and Equalities) is to be believed, the long-standing grey area of PSHE education in schools is finally to be made black and white in favour of compulsory provision. Although parents will still have the option to remove children from sex education classes, schools will have a statutory duty to provide them.

For primary schools, the compulsory element will cover relationships only and this will be taught in an ‘age appropriate’ way. However, secondary schools will be required to teach classes on both sex ed and relationships, regardless of whether they are a state school, academy, independent school or even a religious free school.

The means of delivery will be flexible to ensure classes can be sensitive to the local community – which is something that 2020 Dreams already offer with our PSHE classes.

Can Sex Education, Porn and the Internet Keep Children Safe?

The idea that pornography sites such as PornHub could play a part in our children’s sex education must be the stuff of nightmares for many of the UK’s parents but these proposals are being seriously debated in some circles.

The logic goes like this:

  • Young people already access porn online anyway and neither pornography nor the internet are going anywhere soon.
  • Even the most popular providers of online sex education (e.g. Scarleteen) attract a tiny proportion of traffic when compared with the pornography giants.

The suggestion – as explained by Pauline Oosterhoff from the Institute of Development Studies in an article in the Guardian last December – is that by working with the powerful pornography industry instead of condemning them, a sensible mixture of balanced sex education, porn awareness and child protection could be reached.

Since the powers that be are only now coming to the conclusion that sex education, porn and related topics are too serious to be left to the whims of individual schools, it is unlikely that such radical ideas will be seriously debated by Parliament any time soon, but it does highlight the fact that burying our heads in the sand when it comes to young people’s sexual and relationship issues is becoming a risky attitude indeed.