Sex Education Will Always Trump Web Censorship

Sex Education Will Always Trump Web Censorship

As Labour's Diane Abbott and Conservative parenting guru Claire Perry slog it out to be this generation's Mary Whitehouse, Dr Brooke Magnanti argues that decent sex education, by parents and schools, will always trump any attempts to censor what children see online.

Sex Education Will Always Trump Web Censorship

As far as debates go it's fair to say that this is an issue on which Labour and the Coalition, represented in this instance by Claire Perry MP, hardly differ. Summary: 'we all know' sexualisation is bad, even though the data are inconclusive on that matter. And I don't think parents are powerless at all... nor is it a good idea to keep telling them they are. Girls + sex = panic; every week there seems to be yet another panic about girls and sex.

Take sexting, for example. One fact rarely mentioned in the hoo-ha is that the incidence of 'sexts' being seen by, and bothering, UK teens is 19 per cent of 11 per cent- in other words, about two per cent of the total - actually lower than elsewhere in the EU. Good for Abbott for recognising, though, that one area where policymakers should have input is encouraging sex education.

When she says that kids are learning about sex from porn she's not wrong. To help them understand pornography as entertainment, as opposed to how sex should be, we need to stop skipping the the subject of real sex and real relationships when talking to young people.

Put simply, the role of the Government if any with these issues is to offer resources, not to mandate unworkable and easily thwarted internet opt-in controls - controls which Abbott believes should exist.

Educating not censoring... Internet content blocks tend to block LGBT, sex-ed, and health resources as well as, more recently, feminist writing and political satire. It is silly to suggest that banning access to information then depriving young people of expert knowledge can possibly end well.

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