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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Drama Teacher required from January 2014

£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education is...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Cover Sup...

IT Teacher September strt with view to permanent post

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: IT...

Qualified Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis