Friday, 14 January 2011

Education or titillation?

At the end of the last week we watched an advance preview of a programme which will be broadcast on Channel 4 next Wednesday, The Joy of Teen Sex.

This programme will be broadcast post watershed at 10pm and, according to Channel 4 ‘it offers a frank exploration of the love and sex lives of today's teenagers - presenting solutions to the emotional and physical problems many of them experience.’

The programme’s muddled message begins with the presenter pointing out that sex under the age of 16 is illegal.  She says “the age of consent is there for a reason and I believe we should wait until we are at least 16 to lose our virginity but we can’t pretend that teenage sex isn’t happening” and then goes to explain that we should ‘embrace teenage sex’ and make it ‘enjoyable’.

Perhaps this is the aim but, having seen the programme, we consider it crosses the line into prurience, with graphic scenes that can only be described as pornographic and of very little educational value.  Our concern is  that this programme has more to do with titillation and ratings than offering advice of real value; it doesn’t have to be this way as the BBC’s ‘Dangerous Pleasures’ season, which is aimed at young people and has tackled subjects including drugs, alcohol and sex intelligently, has shown.

The programme includes explicit images of lesbian intercourse in a section in which a 17 year old is shown ‘some more tricks to pleasure girls’.  The presenter expresses her concern about the pressure applied to teenagers to have sex; however this is exactly what the programme is doing.

At a time when, as a society, we’re having a serious debate about the premature sexualisation of children, there is a real question about the role which programmes like this take in the creation of the hypersexualised society which our children inhabit.

The last word must belong to the editorial from the Sunday Express.  Writing about this programme the paper says:

A researcher for Mediawatch, who has seen the material, says: “It’s soft porn aimed at arousing the audience.” She is right. Sex education is a serious issue but is C4 interested in helping shy teenagers come to terms with sex or is it just after a cheap thrill to boost viewing figures?

The subject does not need graphic human illustration to make a serious point. By including them, the show will simply arouse those in search of a cheap thrill, the very opposite of the message that a programme like this should be making.’

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