Should our children be taught about sexual abuse, online grooming and pornography at a younger age?

While it may not be an easy subject to approach, teaching our children about sexual education is certainly a necessary part of their upbringing as they slowly enter adulthood. However, discussing the ‘birds and the bees’ is a very different lesson altogether compared to that of pornography, abuse and other forms of sexual exploitation.  The shadow women and equalities minister have recently said that children should be taught the realities of these difficult subjects at earlier stages, suggesting that relationship education, appropriate for their age, should start as young as five in order to protect them in the future. Do you agree?

This movement was led by Sarah Champion, Rotherham’s Labour MP, after a report entitled ‘Dare2Care’ was launched in the House of Commons last Tuesday. The plan has aims of preparing children, the parents of these children and those that work and interact with them to learn more about how to understand and recognise early warnings that may suggest that a child is subject to, or taking part in, concerning behaviour.

Currently, in the UK, sex and relationship education starts in schools when children reach the age of 11. Sarah Champion urges schools to start to tackle these subjects earlier, suggesting that current procedures are ‘out of touch’ with the realities of the age that children start exploring sex and the ways in which they are doing it. The Dare2Care report found that at least half of the 1,000 children aged 11-16 they surveyed had been exposed to online pornography, while almost all of them (94%) had seen it once they reached the age of 14.

Champion argues that a better statuary education is necessary in order to teach the children the true, fantasy context of porn and without it, the violent and abusive behaviour that is the norm in this media could soon become a reality for the children that watch it as they enter puberty.

As a parent, it is natural to want to protect your children, especially those so young, from being exposed to things of this nature. But as the realities of the online world that we live in becomes more and more apparent, is it safer to discuss subjects such as pornography, online grooming and sexual abuse while in their younger years than it is to avoid it altogether?

What are your thoughts? Let us know in your comments below, or discuss it with other parents in our forum.