Government has no plans for sex filters

DESPITE the ongoing debate in Britain, there are no plans here to introduce pornography filtering in Ireland, according to the Department of Justice.

And the Department of Education has no plans to update the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) syllabus in schools, which youth groups say is woefully outdated.

The Department of Education states that access to pornography on children’s phones is primarily a matter for parents as they are the primary educators of children.

Director of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre, Mary Crilly, yesterday called for the Irish Government to make filtering mandatory as is the British Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan in the UK.

“Teenagers don’t need to go looking for it anymore, it comes to them, they are vulnerable and it’s our job as adults to protect them from the dangers of porn,” she said.

Ian Power of also said SPHE “isn’t connecting” with teenagers and warned that sex education is “wholly inconsistent” in this country.

Instead of obliging all internet service providers to put a default filter on all internet packages, the Department of Justice is advising parents to “avail of filtering services from their internet service provider”.

Last night, the Department of Education defended its post primary SPHE curriculum saying training on the issue of pornography “is provided to SPHE/RSE teachers by the professional support team through the SPHE internet training day”.

The topic is also included in further two-day training for religion teachers at senior and junior cycle level. It said that the primary-level Stay Safe programme is being updated to include new forms of risk such as cyberbullying. Feedback on other potential areas of importance is being sought from parents and teachers. It did not specifically mention pornography.

“The approach to relationships and sexuality education is changing at post-primary, junior and senior cycle level as part of the new ‘well being’ principle which focuses on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing,” a spokesman said.

But the focus of the Government does not seem to be on the potential dangers of access to general pornography but instead on blocking access to child pornography. The Department of Justice last night said:

* Arrangements are being put in place so that gardaí and the major internet service providers will work together to block access to sites containing child pornography.

* Last year the EU and USA set up a global alliance to tackle child pornography, along with countries in Asia and Latin America

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