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Calls grow for schools to teach lessons on porn

Sex education groups back better 'porn literacy' – and call for teachers to receive training to deliver lessons

Schools need to give pupils lessons about pornography, say researchers

Sex education groups back better 'porn literacy' – and call for teachers to receive training to deliver lessons

Sex education groups are calling on schools to teach pupils more about pornography, following research concluding that more guidance is needed on how to view it with a critical eye.

Psychologists from the University of Ireland believe schools should do more to reduce the shame around pornography and improve critical thinking on sexual health.

Their latest research concluded that school students should be taught that adult film stars’ bodies are “largely unattainable” and orgasms are rarely “dramatic, overt and easy”.

The study, led by Kate Dawson and based on interviews with young adults, said pupils should be shown images of a “greater variety of genitalia” to ease anxiety about their own bodies.

It also called for more "porn literacy education" around body image, sexual violence and gay and transgender communities.

“There’s a need to support youth to develop ­competence to distinguish positive and negative models of sexual health and relationships from the porn they watch,” it said.

Porn 'distorts reality'

Dr Polly Haste, head of training and practice at the Sex Education Forum, agreed that it was important for pupils to understand how “porn distorts reality”.

“What we have at the moment, which is most unhelpful for young people, is to have porn everywhere and for no one to be talking about it,” she told Tes.

“We don’t really spend much time saying, 'How do you know what a good relationship and pleasurable sex feel like?' We don’t spend that much time putting things in a positive light.

"It’s important that guidance to schools includes teaching about porn. But what will really make a difference is support and training for teachers so that they have confidence to address the subject openly and accurately within safe boundaries."   


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A spokesperson for the PSHE Association added: “Pornography can affect young people’s perceptions of healthy sexual relationships and may mean that they feel pressurised to mimic the behaviour they have seen portrayed.

“Similarly, the depictions of the human body may distort young people’s perceptions of their own and others’ bodies. Given its prevalence, it is therefore important that such issues are addressed at an appropriate age in schools in line with student need.”

Relationships, sex and health education classes will be compulsory in all schools from September 2020.

Under the plans, all pupils will be taught about relationships in primary school and relationships and sex education in secondary school. State-funded schools will also teach health lessons.

They aim to address gaps in personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) lessons, which campaigners say do not prepare young people for today’s world.

A recent survey by the Sex Education Forum and the NEU teaching union found that over a quarter of 16- and 17-year-olds did not cover pornography in their lessons.

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