Hundreds of thousands of porn searches blocked in schools

An official from the Ministry of Education has revealed 300,000 pornography searches were blocked in one month on school computers and devices. 

Pauline Cleaver, Associate Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Education, told a select committee on Wednesday that teachers feel ill-equipped to manage students accessing pornography. 

"We know that school sites are blocking [pornography], but we know in one month period, 300,000 searches were blocked from our school network," she told committee members. 

"This tells us that children are curious, they are seeking to access [pornography], and it tells us that the safeguards in the schooling environment are in place," Cleaver said.

"But it means that we have to have communities, parents, whānau and teachers feeling confident and skilful enough to have the conversations about the harmful effects of pornography."

The Ministry of Education told Newshub Cleaver was referring to Network for Learning (N4L), the government-funded ultrafast broadband connection that's been rolled out to state and state-integrated schools.

National's Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye said she thinks pornography access among youth is a "massive issue" and said she's "deeply concerned" about what she's being told by parents and teachers.

Pauline Cleaver, Associate Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Education.
Pauline Cleaver, Associate Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Education. Photo credit: Newshub

"I'm deeply concerned about the principals and teachers and parents that are saying to me it's a bit of an epidemic - that we've got a sexualisation occurring.

"Children have access to devices and at home there'll be a group of parents who have absolutely no idea in terms of what their kids are accessing. This is a global issue. I'm really, really worried."

Cleaver said sexuality education - which is compulsory in New Zealand schools and part of the curriculum from years 1-10 - is a "critical part of the health and education curriculum area".

"We know that the physiological, biological and puberty aspects of sexuality education are well covered. But we are concerned that some students are missing out on full coverage of the education curriculum.

"There is a confidence issue with some teachers feeling ill-equipped to teach and manage conversations about the real issues, like consent, like sexual violence, and the harmful effects of pornography."

Last year the Education Review Office recommended schools teach students more about pornography after discovering it was one of the least-mentioned parts of sexuality education.

The 2018 'Promoting Wellbeing Through Sexuality Education' report found that less than half of high schools taught about pornography.

Last month the US state of Arizona declared pornography a public health risk, one year after the state of Florida made the same declaration.

Newshub.

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