Porn is often considered taboo and, as a result, many parents avoid talking about it with their children. But a UK-based sexual health charity wants to change that.
As the UK marked Sexual Health Week , from Monday (September 11) to Sunday (September 17), FPA ran a campaign to support parents to have more open discussions about subjects related to porn, such as body image, self-esteem, consent and communication.
The new campaign came after a survey revealed that 72% of parents in the UK want schools to talk about these topics .
In addition, it found that more than half of the parents think it is a "good idea" to start talking about porn when children are 13 or younger.
Natika Halil, FPA CEO, told getwestlondon : "We need to ensure that young people’s education provides an opportunity to frankly discuss a range of issues, so that they have the skills they need to contextualise pornography as a fantasy and to challenge some of the stereotypes it may contain."
Mrs Halil reminded parents that "sexual imagery" can be found everywhere - from adverts, films and games, to magazines and biology textbooks.
She continued: "Any of these could leave your child with questions or things they would like to discuss, but might feel embarrassed or awkward about raising with you.
"By bringing up these subjects yourself now and again, in a calm and non-judgemental way, you can help show them that you are open to answering any questions they might have."
As part of FPA's campaign, parents were not only being encouraged to speak to their children, but also to call on schools to teach porn-related subjects .
Mrs Halil explained: "We are helping parents to contact their children’s schools to confirm the school is teaching the subjects that their children need to know in order to develop healthy relationships and stay safe online."
It comes after the government announced that relationships and sex education (RSE) is to become statutory in all schools in England from 2019.
Mrs Halil said: "Many schools provide fantastic RSE, but at the moment the provision is patchy, with some schools providing a full, comprehensive programme while other young people are missing out.
"Because it hasn't been a compulsory subject, teachers have also reported a lack of available training to support them.
"Knowing they have the support of parents in teaching about these topics can help teachers feel confident developing and delivering lessons that both empower and inform young people."
One of the parents involved in FPA's campaign is Samantha Evans, a mother-of-three who owns Jo-Divine, an online sex toy company.
Mrs Evans, from Kent, described the campaign as a "fantastic" initiative and highlighted how speaking to children about porn can have a positive long-term impact on their lives.
She said: "If we teach them now, then there won't be issues in the future.
"They will feel confident and they will know about their bodies."
"Research also shows that if you inform children they will delay having their first sexual encounter because they really think about it - and it is more likely to be a safe sex encounter on their own terms," Mrs Evans added.
Mrs Evans urged other parents to teach their children that "sex should be healthy, consensual and pleasurable".
Top tips for parents and carers
- Be aware of what's going on in your child's life
- Try not to let your feelings get in the way
- Don't save it all up for one big talk
- Keep it appropriate
- Don't think you need to know it all
- Start the conversation and keep it going
- Let is be on their terms
- Don't assume your child will learn about these topics at school
You can find more tips and information on FPA's website
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