Train us to deliver lessons on dangers of pornography, plead teachers

'For many young people, pornography now precedes sex'

Education Editor

A rising tide of pornography is engulfing children from the age of eight on the internet, a teachers’ conference heard today.

“For many young people, pornography now precedes sex and many will have seen hundreds of strangers having sex before they have any sexual contact with another person,” Helen Porter, from St Gabriel’s school in Newbury, Berkshire, told the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference in Liverpool.

Delegates demanded that teachers should receive specialist training in how to deliver lessons warning of the dangers of pornography as a result.

Mrs Porter cited research from the London School of Economics which showed that 90 per cent of eight to 16-year-olds had at some stage accessed pornography on the internet – many without meaning to..

“I know of a Berkshire school girl in year nine who was persuaded to perform in an amateur pornographic video at the age of 13,” she added. “As a teacher of teenage girls and the mother of a teenage daughter, I am absolutely sickened by that thought  …

“Unfortunately, younger children can stumble upon wildly inappropriate material by entering an innocent word into a search engine.

“Young people are unaware of the inevitable consequences of their sexual behaviour.  A 15-year-old girl agreed to pose naked for her 18-year-old boy friend.  He took a few photos and they enjoyed looking at them together – just a bit of harmless fun.  A month later, they split up and he was feeling low so he decided to email the photos to friends. 

“You guessed it – they went viral and he ended up in court for distributing child pornography.”

James Shlackman, from Crosfields School, Reading, said the imagery available on the internet had changed significantly.

“10 to 15 years ago, the sort of pornography that was available online was the sort of thing you could find in a top-shelf magazine. 

“Today it is very different. Much of it is aggressive, some of it bordering on abusive.  It doesn’t show normal sexual behaviour but there is so much of it that to young people, without the benefit of experience, it appears to be normal.

“Young people today are being exposed to dangerously unrealistic portrayals of sex that, if emulated, may end up damaging the relationships they form both now and in later life.”

Alison Sherratt, a former president of ATL and primary school teacher from Bradford, added: “Very many of our youngest children are exposed to a wide variety of images of a pornographic nature.”

She said primary school pupils were engaging in  “a more explicit vocabulary and type of games”.

“We need to send signals to our colleagues in every staff room so they can tackle the subject openly and bravely to help our children retain their naïve and joyous childhoods,” she added.

Teachers were also concerned over the practice of “sexting” – sending sexually explicit photographs of fellow pupils which have often been mocked via mobile telephones or email – which, some said, could take place in school.

They want guidelines as to how they react to this.

Another teacher, Niamh Sweeney, from Cambridgeshire, said books like Fifty Shades of Grey gave a distorted picture of sexual relationships.

“It is not an erotic book,” she said.  “It is 500 pages of a destructive and violent  and sustained relationship where a young girl agrees to be hurt while not enjoying sex because she knows he likes it.”

Mrs Porter said the union’s leadership should investigate ways of developing “age appropriate material” for use in lessons on sex and relationships education to combat the problem.

“It is crucial that youngsters develop an understanding of sex in the media and pornography so they can recognise the abnormal nature of these sexual expectations (aroused by the internet) and appreciate the dangers of accepting the values portrayed by the sexualised media,” she concluded.

Meanwhile, delegates at the conference unanimously passed an emergency motion opposing the Government’s plans to scrap annual rises for teachers moving up the salary scale from this September – and introduce performance related pay instead.

They warned the move would reduce living standards and put the brightest and best recruits off from entering the profession.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Nigel Farage leaves the BBC's New Broadcasting House following a radio interview in London on 2 April, 2015
politics
Life and Style
London
tech
Life and Style
Could what you wear affect your job prospects?
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Unqualified NVQ Assessors - Health, Social Care & Management

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Administration Assistant / Apprenticeship Industry

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity for an e...

Day In a Page

Ed Miliband interview: 'There is only one party standing up for the integrity of the UK'

'There is only one party standing up for the integrity of the UK'

Ed Miliband talks zero hours contracts, non-doms and the NHS
Libya's criminals undermine attempts to prop up a collapsing state

Libya's criminals undermine attempts to prop up a collapsing state

It's not just people-smuggling rackets, but also black markets in weapons, drugs and any other goods that need to avoid government supervision and taxation, says Patrick Cockburn
General Election 2015: On the campaign trail in Rochdale – the town globalisation left behind

On the campaign trail in Rochdale

The town globalisation left behind
Ivor Novello awards 2015: Meet James Napier, the backroom hitmaker for Sam Smith and Clean Bandit

Meet James Napier

The backroom hitmaker for Sam Smith and Clean Bandit is the hottest name in pop you've never heard of
14 best girls' summer dresses

14 best girls' summer dresses

Whether they're on the beach in the south of France or in the garden at nan's house, there's a dress to keep them cool, comfortable and looking fabulous
David Haye interview: Thought of Las Vegas lures Haye back to the ring

Thought of Las Vegas lures Haye back to the ring

Having overcome an injury that seemed to have ended his career, the heavyweight realised there were things left undone – a fight at the spiritual home of boxing
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help