Parents are off the hook as teenagers’ views on sex come from the Internet

Auckland Grammar principal Tom O’Connor pulled no punches in a recent Herald article about teenage sexuality, bravely saying too many boys are getting their sex education from online porn.

He rightly pointed out that today’s overly aggressive digital pornography world does not reflect real relationships, and that “there doesn’t appear to be such a thing as consent”.

The prestigious Auckland school has introduced a healthy relationships programme to tackle these very issues. It should be applauded. And its example followed.

As O’Connor signalled, the sexual behaviour our teens are engaging in or being subjected to can have a long-lasting impact.

To blame porn on the Internet for rape culture would be the same as blaming murders and wars on the six o’clock news. ?It assumes that the teenager doesn’t live as part of a family that has been living and demonstrating respect for the law, respect for others, and especially respect for self. ?

Hekia Parata says that sex education is “first and foremost a parental, family and whanau responsibility” and that schools can draw up their own programmes as they see fit.

Yet the events of recent weeks – and in fact years – show, it is time that attitude changed. Not least of all because our young people are demanding it.

This month, hundreds of outraged teens marched on Parliament to protest against rape culture in the aftermath of deplorable social media comments from Wellington College students.

And the teens we spoke to for our feature today say rape culture is real. And it is not being talked about.

That must change. We owe it to our young people.

Here we go again, a newspaper editor saying that schools need to take the place of parenting. ?Respect for others, and especially women – starts at home.

By the time the school gets hold of them in their early teens, any examples they have grown up with are deeply ingrained. ? And it isn’t the school’s job to fix the problem. ? It certainly isn’t the job of a newspaper to call for education to step in when parents have left a damaged child in their wake.


– NZ Herald