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
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
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
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

Nursery Nurse

£6 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Newcastle: Level 3 Nursery Nurse - Newcas...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz