The key question isn’t if Christian schools should talk about pornography but how they should talk about pornography.
In the past, some Christians considered pornography a taboo topic, especially with children. However, with broadband internet, 4G technology and mobile devices, pornography is so widespread that it’s essential for Christian schools to face the issue. Young people need the resources to make informed and wise choices about how they respond to pornography.
Although all staff in schools may be involved in helping students counter the negative effects of pornography, we believe that the best outcomes are achieved by an intentional and coordinated effort between three distinct groups:
- the Chaplain(s),
- the pastoral care staff
- the PDHPE staff.
Each of these groups can bring a different approach to the messages they give to students. We strongly encourage these teams to work together to discuss where and how they introduce age-appropriate information across the school curriculum.
Schools have a vital role to play in educating students about pornography. The best pornography education occurs within the context of a clear and comprehensive sex education program. This doesn’t mean that we should be directly teaching very young children directly about pornography. Rather, we begin to lay a platform for the essential skills through a school-wide, comprehensive sex education program. For example, schools can:
- teach preschool children about the differences between boys and girls, communicating about their bodies and protective behaviours.
- deliver primary school students with messages about sex, puberty and safe living. In New South Wales, the Primary PDHPE curriculum teaches topics and skills that are crucial for preparing young people for the challenges that pornography will pose, such as good communication, decision making and positive relationships.
- equip young people with media literacy skills to critically challenge the messages that media from various sources is sending, without necessarily talking about pornography. Students who have these foundational skills are better prepared to consider the harms and influences of pornography once they reach high school. The resources and programs listed below are a helpful starting point for any school looking to develop a whole school strategy to resisting the harms of pornography.
A number of websites offer specialist services to schools that we want to alert you to here. Unless specifically stated, these resources are not necessarily operating from a Christian foundation—but we believe they offer some really helpful ideas for Christians in schools.
Teen Sex by the Book curriculum
Designed to be used alongside Patricia Weerakoon's book of the same name, help your students discover how living God's countercultural lifestyle leads to healthy, pleasurable sex and intimate, satisfying relationships that last a lifetime. For years 9-12.
Other Weerakoon resources:
- Teen Sex by the Book (Years 9-12)
- Growing Up by the Book (Years 5-8)
- Birds and Bees by the Book (Years 2-4)
- The Best Sex for Life (Adults)
The Frank Chat is the website and home of the ministry of James Grady. Grady is an educator and chaplain with a special interest in educating young people, parents and community (including schools) about the harms of pornography, with a distinct Christian approach. He’s got a number of interactive presentations for schools that can be catered to your specific needs or context as well as the available time. These are based on the most up-to-date research on the effects of pornography.
Based in Brisbane, Youth Wellbeing Project provides holistic relationships and sexuality education to prevent sexual harms, enhance children and young people’s relationships, and build resilience to porn culture. Youth Wellbeing Project attend schools to deliver sexuality education, but they also provide materials for school staff to deliver in their own schools.
Of particular interest is their Critical Porn IQ program, which is a school-wide approach to counteract porn culture. This program equips both primary and secondary schools to implement policies and learning materials for students, and directs staff and parents to further support.
It’s Time We Talked is an Australian website that brings together a range of resources for young people, parents, community organisations and schools about counteracting the harmful effects of pornography. The website contains a tab devoted to schools, including pages on why porn is an issue for schools, and what they can do about it. The people behind this project, Maree Crabbe and David Corlett, offer consultancy to schools, including training for teachers, wellbeing staff and parents. We highly recommend checking out their unique Australian resource called In The Picture that supports secondary schools to develop a whole-school approach to addressing the influence of explicit sexual imagery (http://www.itstimewetalked.com.au/resources/in-the-picture/).
Melinda Tankard Reist is a writer, speaker and advocate with a very powerful message for schools about their role in resisting the influences of pornography. She runs seminars and workshops in schools for students, staff and parents.
Merilyn Buckley has developed and presented a range of survey-based, tailored wellbeing seminars to students and parents at many Sydney schools. She also runs mental health and wellbeing seminars for local government and corporate companies, and has spoken at youth and adult community conferences on emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and social wellbeing, particularly for interdenominational faith communities across Australia
Rowena Thomas is a Sydney-based primary school teacher who specialises in providing sexuality education for students and for their parents. Her message is based around the very positive message that people are different, diverse and amazing. Thomas brings a distinctly Christian perspective to this topic, and can directly address pornography if requested.
David and Katie Kobler provide seminars aimed to educate, inspire and empower young people to have happy, healthy and respectful relationships. They provide relevant and engaging seminars for students, parents and teachers around the topics of sex, dating and relationships, creating an atmosphere of empathy in the school and home for young people. Their approach aims to open conversations, provide answers and change culture.