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The Sex Education Show Vs Pornography

Posted Mar 01 2009 12:00am
March 31, 2009 | By niccitalbot


I’m enjoying the second series of this show , which aired on Channel 4 last night.

Presenter Anna Richardson and a team of sexual health experts are travelling around secondary schools in the UK talking to teenagers about sexuality, body image, and porn. It’s timely given the current sexual climate: The UK has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe according to a 2007 report by Population Action International. Young people (aged 16-24) are the age group most at risk of being diagnosed with an STI, according to a 2008 report by the Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections.

Porn is readily accessible online – a quick Google search for ‘free porn’ throws up 130,000,000 results, most of which children can easily access. Figures from Family Safe Media show that 90% of 8-16 year olds have viewed porn online, mostly while doing homework.

In last night’s episode the team visited a secondary school in Norfolk. Pupils were presented with a line up of (brave) naked women, all shapes and sizes, shaved and hairy, to show how different we all are. They were also shown close-up photographs of breasts and female genitalia and asked to rate them according to attractiveness. It didn’t surprise me that the boys went for the Page 3 look-a-likes, but it is a concern to see how much the girls are influenced by celebrity magazines, porn, and by what the boys like.

Genital shaving was unheard of when I was a teenager. Porn made it trendy. The girls on the show said being hairy down there is deemed unattractive and that they prefer to shave. There are pros and cons to both but public hair does have its health benefits. It helps to protect the vagina from infection. Hair helps to trap dirt and bacteria and keeps the vagina cool. It also releases pheromones – chemical signals that help us to decide whether we’re attracted to each other. If we’re hair-free and wearing perfume regularly, do we lose that ability?

Labiaplasty is cosmetic surgery to ‘tidy’ up the labia, which I find ridiculous if done for appearances sake. In response to this trend for the ‘perfect’ vagina British sculptor Jamie McCartney has produced a cast called Design A Vagina , which celebrates the diversity of female genitalia. Well worth a look if you can make it to the Brighton Fringe Festival in May.

The team also talked to parents about porn, took them to see a private screening of what is readily available online, and interviewed a porn actor to talk about how his work has shaped his attitudes towards sex and relationships. The point being to show that porn isn’t as glamorous as we may think.

Parents are in a tricky position when it comes to protecting their children from unsuitable online content. Teenagers are curious about the world they live in and want to learn about sex. We all do – hence the popularity of porn. The best solution is talking to them frankly about the birds and the bees, how porn is made and showing them some sex education DVDs that will educate them in a positive way. There are a couple of good ones listed on Amazon . The show’s website also has lots of useful information, real life stories and Q&A’s.

Anna Richardson has a down to earth, friendly and frank approach to the subject, and it’s great to see her chatting to teenagers about their sex lives, worries and fears. I’m looking forward to episode 2.

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety

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