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Can sex education prevent abuse? The lesson to take from the YouTube scandal

Image source: © canva
Natalia Witulska,
10.12.2023 17:45

One of the biggest scandals in Polish history is currently taking place online. It turns out, some youtubers used their fame and influence to write indecent sexual messages to underage female fans and followers. Could proper education have helped prevent anything?

The "Polish internet" is currently experiencing its biggest collapse in history. Appalling information has come to light concerning the biggest, often idolised youtubers. Writing messages with sexual overtones to minors, using their influence and position to groom underage girls – it all suddenly came to light and sparked nationwide controversy. The question arises whether widespread sex education could have helped avoid any of these situations.

Writing indecent messages to underage girls

In mid-September, social media was increasingly full of concerning news about the biggest Polish youtubers, but no evidence of indecent actions were provided. The posts on X (Twitter) and many TikTok videos alluded that Polish YouTube content creators – ranging from "Minecraft" streamers and pranksters to renowned commentators – had a lot to answer for.

The most shocking pieces of information concern Stuart Burton, one of the most famous Polish youtubers, followed by at least four million subscribers on YouTube and by two million people on Instagram. There was growing concern that the influencer may have been using his reach in inappropriate, frightening and sometimes even creepy ways.

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On Tuesday, 3 October, Sylwester Wardęga published a video on his YouTube channel where he presented incriminating evidence against Stuart "Stuu" Burton. He showed screenshots of IM conversations between the influencer and his underage fans. These proved that Stuu regularly texted girls aged 12-15 who looked up to him.

Thanks to the victims who dared to tell their story, we learned that Stuart Burton had invited underage female fans to meet him at his home or in a hotel room. We were presented with footage and photos taken at parties where 14-year-old girls were given alcohol by their favourite youtubers. We were also shown screenshots of conversations in which an adult, mature man described his erotic dreams starring a 12-year-old fan directly to her. Stuart Burton has written that he imagined the girl in just her panties or naked in the shower. He also indicated that he would not mind if there was an intercourse between them.


Other youtubers covering for Stuart Burton

The news about Stuart Burton and his contacts with underage fans went viral. However, it should be stressed that he was not the only one mentioned in the video. From Sylwester Wardęga's film we also learned that people close to Stuu may have known about his behaviour. These included Marcin Dubiel and Michał "Boxdel" Baron.

Marcin Dubiel is a Polish youtuber and influencer who has become famous online for making silly jokes. It is safe to say that had it not been for Stuart Burton, his career would not have taken off so quickly and would not have continued to this day. It's worth noting that Dubiel is also a person with a huge reach. He has amassed over one and a half million subscribers on YouTube and is followed by almost two and a half million people on Instagram.

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Michał "Boxdel" Baron is also a Polish youtuber, influencer and, until recently, the owner of Poland's largest freak show fighting federation Fame MMA. In his earlier days, he became famous for playing Minecraft and posting videos from the game as a teenager. Baron's channel has gained over one and a half million subscribers, with almost as many people following him on Instagram.

Boxdel - poznajcie prawdę

Sex education and sexual abuse

Learning that grown, career-minded men were able to write horrifying messages to little girls with no hitherto consequences, the question comes to mind. If sex education in Poland had been more widespread, might any of these shocking situations not have happened? We asked it to sexologist Joanna Cesarz.

"In the broadest sense, sex education is the process of teaching about issues related to human sexuality. It includes knowledge of typical human biology and anatomy, genital structure and its function, but also information about reproductive health, sex, safety during sex, methods of contraception etc. Also, what is very important and often forgotten, it teaches about reproductive rights, the consensuality of sexual intercourse, emotional relationships and responsibilities, and the age of consent for any sexual activity.

"Sex education is about safety. The age of consent, methods of protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Such knowledge may save a person, especially a young person who does not yet have much experience, from many unpleasant situations and stress. An educated person knows his or her boundaries, knows what is a good or bad touch for him or her, and has safe sexual intercourses for both himself and the person involved," Joanna Cesarz said.

It is therefore worth emphasising once again that sex education is first and foremost about learning about ourselves. It is spreading knowledge about what is appropriate and what is not. It makes us aware when someone is taking advantage of our trust, wants or even demands that we go to bed with them. Thanks to sex education, we know when to say "stop" and prevent something we are not ready for. We also get to understand when a person demanding too much of us is committing a crime.

Sex education should be on a bigger level
Sex education should be on a bigger level (Canva)

Sex education should be more widespread

Sexologist Joanna Cesarz also stresses that sex education should be introduced as early as pre-school age. Right-wing circles think it teaches kids about LGBT and sexualisation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Its true aim is to teach them about what is right and what is wrong. The youngest should also know when to say "stop".

"I believe that pre-school children should already be taking part in age-appropriate sex education. In addition to naming their intimate body parts and knowing in general what they are used for, they should be taught what bad and non-consensual touching is, who can get bodily close to them in any way, when and in what situations. It is one thing to have a mother put on a nappy or children's looking at each other's genitals out of curiosity, and quite another to be molested or raped. It is worth teaching children these differences as early as possible in order to protect them," emphasised Joanna Cesarz.

When asked whether sex education can prevent crime and abuse, the sexologist immediately answers "yes".

"Of course, as I said before, education equals safety. If a person, regardless of his or her age, knows his or her rights and boundaries, and knows what is wrong, he or she will at least be able to react to violent situations to a greater extent than without having such knowledge. He or she will report it to some adult who can report it to law enforcement without shame," Cesarz concluded.

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