Sex education to confront deluge of internet porn

Pupils to be taught about dangers of graphic images. Picture: Michael Gillen

Pupils to be taught about dangers of graphic images. Picture: Michael Gillen

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SCHOOL pupils in Scotland will be taught about “the birds, the bees and pornography” under radical new sex education plans.

Youngsters are now seeing so many graphic images online they will be warned about the dangers of pornography during sex education classes.

Experts are worried that pornography teaches boys and girls that women are sex objects and that violence is normal. They say children of primary school age are now seeing graphic sexual images online – “long before they have even had their first kiss”.

Youth workers are now undergoing training in order that they can pass on guidance to teachers and parents on how to warn children that sex in porn does not depict a normal or healthy relationship.

The move is being spearheaded by youth project the Scottish Peer Education Network and is likely to focus on pupils in the first and second years of secondary school.

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The project’s development officer Linda Thompson said pornography imparted narrow and damaging ideas about sex. “This is a product, it is not sex education. We have even had concerns expressed by primary schools that youngsters are seeing this. Women are objectified and the male and his expectations are dominant. Young people are seeing violent and aggressive acts long before they have even kissed anyone.

“Boys are struggling with this – a 12-year-old with a mobile phone has access to this adult material. The chat that parents and teachers need to be having with youngsters is not just about the birds and the bees, it’s also about porn.”

Under the move, which is backed by the Scottish Government, sex education lessons will include more information about the dangers of porn from next year.

But family values campaigners hit out at the move. Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: “Bringing pornography into the classroom would introduce sexual images and ideas to many children who had not encountered them before and arouse in some a curiosity to search out more images for themselves. It would not solve anything and only compound the problem.

“If we want children to view sexual intimacy as something valuable, special and worthy of respect, it needs to be addressed with modesty and restraint. To give lessons on pornography is to play with fire.”

But Scottish Tory education spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said parents and teachers “can’t bury their heads in the sand”.

She added: “With many children now having unlimited access to the internet and pornography it is vitally important we raise awareness of what is acceptable behaviour between consenting adults. It is vital we help them understand what the parameters are.”

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