Interview with pro familia MunichPornography as a topic in sex education work

For Safer Internet Day, klicksafe is focusing on the topic "Let's talk about porn". This is because children and young people come into contact with pornographic content on the internet at an early age and therefore need good sex education programs. But how do you find the right tone to talk to children and young people about pornography? Daniela Huber from pro familia Munich gives us an insight into sex education practice in this interview.

Is pornography an issue in your sex education work?

Yes, it cannot be overlooked that young people, but also children, are increasingly confronted with it. And not all young people find it easy to classify these images and videos. Many young people have already seen porn before their first kiss. And children today also come into contact with such content unintentionally. This can happen during internet research or via content in class chats. On the way to school, children's birthday parties, in the playground. The opportunity simply arises.

What do you teach in your workshops on the subject of porn? What is important to you?

Above all, the legal situation! Porn is not intended for young people. This is confusing for many young people at first, because the law says you can have sex from the age of 14. But a lot of porn shows a false image of sexuality! It often shows unusual and violent forms of sexual practices that can have a disturbing effect on young people. It may even convey standards that put young people under pressure. Our aim is not to make young people feel guilty when they consume porn. After all, it is not forbidden for young people to go looking for it themselves. But we also want to support young people who don't watch porn. You don't have to do it to be cool! And not all adults watch porn either!

But you don't just work with young people, but also with children?

Yes, but of course the topics are age-appropriate. In elementary school, sex education has a lot to do with social education. Being fair, strengthening self-confidence, saying no, respecting your own boundaries and those of others... And of course the physical changes during puberty!

Games such as "truth or dare" or social media challenges are often the trigger for sexual boundary violations. We want to empower children to set boundaries and defend themselves when something is expected of them that they don't want.

What role does porn play in elementary school?

We don't introduce the topic ourselves. But we answer questions when they are asked. And children today are already exposed to explicit images. Many have smartphones ... they watch music videos, but may also have seen pornographic images and videos. Purposefully or by chance. It is important to us that children are not left alone with their questions.

What would you say to children if they had questions about pornography?

When we stand in front of a class and a question comes up, it's always a balancing act ... There are children with perhaps older siblings who have already seen or heard something and others who haven't yet. That's why our answer is as factual as possible without going into detail. One answer to "What is porn?" could be: "There are films on the internet that show naked people having sex. These films are for adults and not for children! Many people find such films disgusting and they can also be frightening. Especially children, but also teenagers and adults ...". And then wait and see if there are any more questions.

Children often ask: "Does sex hurt because the women scream like that?" They are then quite relieved when they find out: You can also moan when something is pleasurable. But in some movies, moaning is exaggerated. Children also ask much more direct questions about sexuality. Adults should be prepared for this. The book "Enlighten me!" provides a good overview of children's questions.

How do children react to this?

We try not to dwell on this topic for too long. When we answer the question, some children giggle and many say "Ewwww"...   And children are allowed to say "Ewwww", even when it comes to other topics! Children are curious, are interested in bodily processes, may even be in love ... but there is a very clear difference to adult sexuality. This becomes clear when we ask children: "What else is there that adults find great and children don't? Eating blue cheese... Ew!  Drinking coffee... Iiiiiihhh! - And the other way around? "Children look forward to their birthday and adults don't!"

Teaching material "Let's talk about porn"

The completely revised klicksafe handbook "Let's talk about porn. Sexuality, Identity and Pornography" was developed in collaboration with pro familia Munich and contains background information as well as specific practical projects and worksheets for teachers and specialists. The teaching material is divided into the content modules "Life in puberty", "Ideals of beauty in our society", "Pornography online" and "Sexualized violence and digital boundary violations". The handbook is available to order and download from us.

All materials and information on Safer Internet Day 2024 can be found on our SID website.