Porn in American Schools?

School

                As a father, I seek to protect my children. Protect them from physical danger, protect their health, monitor their internet usage, and the list goes on. One of the biggest concerns for children on the internet is pornography. In part, porn drove the internet boom of the 90’s and has only continued to grow. Two of the largest porn sites bring about 6.7 billon views monthly.[1] But never did I think that I would need to protect my children from porn in their schools.

                Over the last two weeks I have read a few disturbing articles on the topic of bringing porn into the classroom. The first was about a United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) report claiming that not all pornography exposure is harmful to children. Thankfully, this report was later pulled from its website, but only after “500 child safety experts from 26 different nations denouncing what they called the ‘harmful inaccuracies regarding the impact of pornography to children.’”[2]

                The UNICEF report was concerning enough, but this would not occur in the US…right? Well apparently porn is in the classroom, in some areas around the nation. A recent article in First Things discussed “Porn Literacy” after the New York Times wrote an article covering one sex educator’s methods in the classroom.[3] The NYT article discussed how she had been working for over nine years as an educator and was recently fired after parents complained about the curriculum she was teaching during a class on Zoom. Among various complaints, parents alleged that she was teaching first-graders to masturbate.[4] As James notes, with the ease of access, children are viewing porn. As such, some may sympathize with porn being taught in a controlled environment. However, “[e]ducation is about discernment, yes, but it is also moral formation.”[5] It is not about teaching children the different categories of porn and how to identify them (which was also a part of the Manhattan program).[6] Pornography is damaging to the mind. It objectifies women, creates a warped image of sex, and perpetuates sin.

                A study shows that children under 12 who view porn show “sexual knowledge beyond what would be expected for the child’s age and developmental levels, such as children engaging in sophisticated sexual acts such as intercourse or oral sex.” Additionally, the study found that porn actively promotes “sexual aggression, risky sexual practices, objectification of women, and hyper-gendered male and female stereotypes” in children.[7] This is extremely concerning, especially in light that pornographic videos “rewire” the viewer’s brain forming new neural pathways for sexual arousal. The more one is exposed to porn, the more “well-trodden and deeply ingrained” they become.[8] It is not a stretch to say that children viewing porn are leading to a more sexually violent society, especially in light of the fact that PornHub just removed 10 million videos from its site that depicted “rape and sexual assault.”[9] The NYT claimed that education such as this “Porn Literacy,” may reduce sexual assaults in light of the #MeToo movement.[10] I would assert the opposite is true. Perhaps the widespread viewing of porn in children and young adults is leading to the increase in sexual violence in our society. After all, studies show that viewing porn creates deeply ingrained neural pathways. Wouldn’t it be logical to assume that viewing videos that depict “rape and sexual assault” would reinforce and encourage these behaviors?

                We need to keep this out of our classrooms and hold fast to biblical sexuality. Women bear the image of our Creator (Gen 1:26, ESV), they are not there to fulfil men’s selfish desires. Sex is reserved for marriage between a man and women (Eph. 5:31, ESV). Husbands are called to love for their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25, ESV). They are to love their wives as they love their own bodies (Eph. 5:28-29, ESV). Teaching “Porn Literacy,” distorts God’s design for marriage and is dangerous for our children. Parents, we must guard against this.

Notes


[1] Anthony Leonardi, “Why Free Online Porn Should Be Banned,” National Review, July 21, 2021, https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/07/why-free-online-porn-should-be-banned/.

[2] Michael Gryboski, “UNICEF removes report accused of downplaying harm of porn on kids,” Christian Post, June 16th, 2021, https://www.christianpost.com/news/unicef-removes-report-accused-of-downplaying-harm-of-porn-on-kids.html.

[3] Samuel James, “The Illusion of Porn ‘Literacy,’” First Things, July 19, 2021, https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2021/07/the-illusion-of-porn-literacy.

[4] Valeriya Safronova, “A Private-School Sex Educator Defends Her Methods,” New York Times, July 7, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/07/style/sex-educator-methods-defense.html.

[5] James, “The Illusion of Porn ‘Literacy.’”

[6] Leonardi, “Why Free Online Porn Should Be Banned.”

[7] Gail Hornor, “Child and Adolescent Pornography Exposure,” Journal of Pediatric Health Care 34, no. 2 (2020), quoted in Leonardi, “Why Free Online Porn Should Be Banned.”

[8] Matthew Millsap, “Virtually An Affair: Are Evangelicals Prepared to Face Pornography’s VR Revolution?,” Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 21, no. 1 (2016), https://cbmw.org/2016/05/31/jbmw-21-1-virtually-an-affair-are-evangelicals-prepared-to-face-pornographys-vr-revolution/.

[9] Leonardi, “Why Free Online Porn Should Be Banned.”

[10] Safronova, “A Private-School Sex Educator Defends Her Methods.”

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