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Letters to the Editor May 9: This week’s Talking Point – teens, porn and sex ed. Plus letters to the editor

With young people coming of age in a porn-filled world, we should help them 'navigate its powerful images and ideas' so that they can 'enjoy sex ... and even pornography' as a positive force, wrote Sierra Skye Gemma. Readers, print and digital, weigh in on her argument, the role of parents and teachers, and the controversy about Ontario's revised sex education curriculum

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Pornography does not teach kids about sex (My Sexual Education – Focus, May 2). They get plenty of that from mainstream television. What hard-core pornography teaches is brutality and violence. It teaches how to shame and humiliate and degrade others, particularly women. It's not about sex, so much as power and domination. Who wants to instill these values in our children?

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As a high-school teacher and parent, I know that kids need guidance and education. Parents, sit down with your young person and have a hard conversation about what they're watching on their smartphones. Better still, watch any of a number of excellent documentaries about what happens after the camera stops rolling, to find out how perverse the porn industry really is. Awareness is key. It worked for smoking and drunk driving. It needs to work here, too.

Barbara Silburt, Halifax

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I found it disturbing that a woman who suffered sexual abuse as a child supports the production and use of pornography. Sierra Skye Gemma says we need to teach children how to understand porn and be "porn literate." I wonder if her porn curriculum includes the fact that the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates child sexual abuse accounts for 20 per cent of Internet porn.

Michelle Connolly, Surrey, B.C

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This was an awesome article. I had my 13-year-old son read a few paragraphs, and we chatted a bit about what he has seen, and why he'll get better answers to his questions from me and his step-dad than from his buddies.

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Crystol Wood, Calgary

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Moral, ethical and sensitive topics such as this may seem impossible to discuss with our children. But they are all the more critical for that very reason.

Susan Byrne, North Potomac, Md.

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I feel I have had vague discussions about Internet porn with my 13-year-old daughter – which are about to get a lot more specific. These are challenging times for parents!

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Sarah Shipley, Quesnel, B.C.

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I would be a fool to pretend that my kids, now toddlers, won't be asking questions or hearing a lot of misinformation about sex on the playground. The early loss of our children's innocence is the price we pay for permitting a society that normalizes ubiquitous suggestive and sexualized content.

Our children need to be taught how to make wise choices in a world where sex surrounds them. I wish I could be confident that all children would receive age-appropriate sex education at home. Failing that, don't our schools have to make some effort to fill the void for the protection of all children? If I don't approve of the curriculum, I need to step up my own game at home.

Monica Madill, Halton Hills, Ont.

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I am the father of two school-age children. What has become clear by looking at patterns in the United States and Europe is that current sex-ed programs do not go nearly far enough to promote healthy sexuality, support women's rights, reduce incidence of teenage pregnancy, and lessen rates of sexually transmitted diseases.

Our children are much more capable of understanding than we give them credit for. We are not protecting them by limiting their exposure to sexuality. We are making them vulnerable to errors of ignorance.

Peter Lehman, Waterloo, Ont.

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I hope the Ontario government will not cave to pressure from uninformed parents opposing the updated health/sex-ed curriculum (New Ontario Health Curriculum To Go Ahead Despite Protests, Wynne Says – May 5). Parents protesting against the curriculum are fearful of the wrong thing. They should fear ignorance, which leads to bad decisions.

When children have knowledge, they are better able to resist pressure from those who would take advantage of them. They are not embarrassed to ask questions when they need to. It is sad that we still live in a shame-based society where, when it comes to sexuality, some people prefer ignorance over knowledge.

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Ruth Miller, Toronto

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Premier Kathleen Wynne needs to be resolute in facing down opposition to the new sex-ed curriculum. Otherwise, we will raise a cohort of students who have learned myths and misconceptions in the playground and the mall, and nothing from their parents.

David Weatherston, Toronto

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I agree that sex education is necessary to the growing child; however I do not agree that it should be imposed on the child at a young age. Parents should always be a contributing factor in the nourishment and growth of children, preserving their innocence and cognitive development in the best way possible.

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I urge the Ontario government to pause and consider the thousands of parents pleading to be heard about the new health curriculum.

Riffat Jahan, Maple, Ont.

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Parents who disagree with sex education and don't want their children to be taught this subject can have their children sit out the classes. But going on "strike" and removing their children from class as a form of protest is preposterous!

Margie Pratt, Kingston

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ON REFLECTION Letters to the editor

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Capacity for reform

Anyone who heard Omar Khadr's comments to the media after being released on bail cannot help but be struck by the federal government's doggedly vindictive response ('Freedom Is Way Better Than I Thought' – May 8). If the heart and soul of the Canadian penal system is truly rehabilitation, surely he is a good example of the human capacity for reform. Unless, of course, the government is committed to an ideological agenda from which it is unwilling to deviate, however compelling the evidence to the contrary.

Peter Laurie, Peterborough, Ont.

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At last, the "convicted terrorist" Omar Khadr speaks. First, Prime Minister Stephen Harper muzzled the child, then he muzzled the man, but on Thursday Canadians were allowed to finally hear him for themselves. I am proud of Canada.

Robin Hannah, Toronto

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California dreaming

Re More Dire By The Day – May 8: The other day in a restaurant I heard a man proclaim to his companions that climate change and global warming are myths. What I regret not doing at the time was going over to him and suggesting that he go to California and do the same thing.

But, as Canadian educator Laurence J. Peter once offered: "Against logic there is no armour like ignorance."

Ray Arnold, Richmond, B.C.

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'Giving back' puzzler

The Facts & Arguments essay usually gives me a chuckle or two at the human encounters it recounts. But "Girl Most Likely To … Steal?" (May 7) left me outraged, and with questions for which there are no answers. How could an act born of kindness and a wish to "give back" end in such a way? Why is a teacher with such a mindset put in charge of 10- and 11-year-olds? Why is a principal, clearly lacking in the most rudimentary of human understanding, in such a position of authority?

Judith Pearsall, Oakville, Ont.

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