couples

"Do I want my kids to learn about porn in school? Yes, and no."

Dear schools, here’s what I want you teach my kids about porn. Repeat after me…

Do you really think your child hasn’t watched porn yet? Okay then, well let me burst that little bubble for you. Most children have watched porn by the age of 10, or have at least heard about it. My son is 11 and we’ve been discussing pornography for two years, courtesy of his friends at school who started making inappropriate sex and porn jokes at an early age. And people think Catholic-educated children are so wholesome…

When my son asked me, “Mum, what’s porn?”, I was ready. We’d already had the sex talk at the age of eight when he and his friends had started talking about it and joking about it, out of a sense of curiosity and learning. So when it came to porn, I was prepared.

I’m just not so sure his school would be.

Writer and radio host Em Rusciano says it’s time for porn to be taught to children at home and in high school. She calls children viewing porn “one of the biggest parenting challenges those of us with teenagers face”, except sometimes it happens a couple of years too early, as is the case with my son.

Kids can easily end up viewing porn, either accidentally or deliberately.

Rusciano warns parents in an article written for News Ltd, "One poorly spelled word into Google and BOOM your kid could be knee-deep in a naked, mini tramp, leather cape, gimp mask situation."

Straight after I tell you that 90% of kids aged between 8-16 have seen pornography at least once and that boys aged between 12-17 are THE LARGEST CONSUMERS OF ONLINE PORN. Yep, your son. I know, deep breaths ... We’ll get through this together.

So why do adolescents and teenagers watch porn? The same reason they do anything. Curiosity about sex, curiosity about the world, natural urges, puberty, that initial sex talk, so many reasons. And while we are patting ourselves on the back for having the sex talk with our children..."When a man and a woman love each other..." there is a whole sex world out there that we are failing to prepare our children for. We can't be leaving it to illicitly viewed porn clips to do the educating for us.

Instead of pointing to just parents or just high schools to take on the responsibility of teaching teens about porn, Rusciano agrees with Danish professor Christian Graugaard who says we need to show high school students porn and then discuss it.

Young people, like the rest of us, are part of a sexualised postmodern society, what I am proposing is that we reinvent sex education in the classroom. Rather than focusing on the technical disease-related or biological aspects of sex, we should also use this platform to discuss and show other phenomena, such as pornography, taught by trained teachers, so that young people can develop a critical approach to what they are seeing.

In theory, I agree with him. Wouldn't it be great if all schools could teach our children about sex in a way that helps them to embrace who they are and the world they live in?

"What are you watching darling?""Um, Minecraft videos Mum."

In reality, there is no way I trust Australia's current education system to get the message right. Yes Catholic education, I'm looking at you. My son's school can't even handle discussing homosexuality, for crying out loud. This is the school that told my child that the gay couple on the TV show Modern Family are 'brothers who live together'. God forbid they get the responsibility of teaching my children about the world we actually live in, not the one where they are all huddled around a bible blocking their eyes and ears to what is really going on.

ADVERTISEMENT

My son knows what pornography is, the reasons why people make it and view it. He also knows that when he is older it is his choice whether or not he watches it, as long as he understands what he is watching...which is a completely unrealistic depiction of sex. It is not like that. It is NEVER like that.

And instead of filling him with guilt, embarrassment or shame I want my son to understand the world he lives in and feel free to explore it in any way he sees fit, as long as it isn't to the detriment of others.

Can we really trust high schools to teach kids about porn? As Rusciano says, the days of putting condoms on bananas are O-V-E-R.

The sex talk I had with my son is very different to the one he got in school. I told him that when two people love each other they express it physically. I explained both heterosexual and homosexual sex. I explained choices couples make to date, live together, not live together, to marry or not, to have kids or not. I talked about porn, why kids watch it, why some couples watch it. I fessed up to watching it myself (which should put a stop to his burgeoning viewing habit) and the conversation continues whenever he has a question about it.

So yes, teach high school kids about porn. Teach primary kids in years 5 and 6 about porn. But do it in a way that reflects the world we live in and the choices children make. Don't do it in a way that attempts to fulfill an agenda or follow a bunch of irrelevant rules that no longer apply to modern life.

Have you spoken to your children about porn? Do you trust your children's school to do a good job when it comes to teaching them about it or would you prefer for porn education to stay out of schools altogether?

Want more? Try:

Porn sex vs real sex, explained with food.

"What I want my kids to know about sex".

00:00 / ???