Myth busting about pornography in SRE

Myth busting about the issue of pornography in Sex and Relationships Education

Recently, there has been a lot of media interest in the subject of sex and relationships education (SRE), particularly around tackling issues like pornography. The Sex Education Forum welcomes much of this media attention as a necessary part of raising public awareness. However, sometimes we see articles that, frankly, have presented incorrect information. What follows are a few 'myth busters' to set the record straight….   

Myth 1:
The Sex Education Forum wants to promote pornography in the classroom.

The truth: The Sex Education Forum recently produced a magazine for teachers who lead sex and relationships education classes, giving advice on how to plan teaching that tackles some of the issues raised by pornography and how to respond when pupils ask questions about pornography. We produced this guidance because teachers themselves told us that this was a reality they faced in the classroom and they wanted our expert support.

Myth 2:
That we want explicit pornography shown to pupils.

The truth: Our guidance has never suggested that pornography ever be shown to a child (which is illegal) or that teachers themselves should have to look at pornography to be able to teach children to stay safe online and be more critical of distortions that pornography portrays.

Myth 3:
That the Sex Education Forum thinks that looking at pornography can be good.

The truth: We think young people should know the law: that buying pornography is illegal until you are 18 and that not all pornography is the same. For example 'extreme pornography' is illegal for any age. We think children should be aware of the dangers of 'sexting' and supported to manage the pressures they may feel from their peers.

Myth 4:
By discussing pornography we will tempt children to find it online.

The truth: Unfortunately children and young people sometimes find pornography by accident because it is easy to access online.  We think that children should be prepared to understand how pornography distorts reality by discussing how other forms of media represent men and women and gender roles, and how pictures and videos are routinely edited and 'photo-shopped'.

Myth 5:
We want to introduce explicit subjects unnecessarily in Primary School.

The truth: The Sex Education Forum believes that sex and relationships education should start early and be taught in every year of school. . At primary school classes start with discussing how boys and girls are different, and the importance of loving and respectful relationships. An early start with sex and relationships education is vtial, because abuse and violence do not have an age-limit. Learning correct names for genitalia is important so that children have the language to describe their bodies, understand what beahviour would be abusive and report it if it happens to them. Later, it is important that primary school children are prepared for the changes they will all experience when they enter puberty.

Please decide for yourself by reading the magazine (rather than the ill-informed headlines) at: