Head of Girlguiding Julie Bentley: 'We have a responsibility to help young people understand online porn'

'Most young people are aware of a degree of life in the big, wide world'

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The Independent Online

The head of Girlguiding has said that children should be taught about online porn so they can protect themselves.

Julie Bentley said it is counterproductive to “pretend it’s not there”.

“Pornography, regretfully, is so easily accessible these days on social media,” she told Kirsty Young on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

“So my view on this is it isn’t going to help [young people] by pretending it’s not there. If they’re accessing it and seeing it then we have a responsibility to help them understand that it is not a true representation of a relationship between two people.”

The chief executive added: “One of the things that I’ve often been challenged for in the past is my support for sex and relationships education.

“But information is a thing that helps us and we need to ensure that our young people have the information that they need in order to understand how they need to protect themselves in all walks of life.”

Ms Bentley, an experienced youth worker and counsellor, said times have changed since she was a teenager and nowadays “most young people are aware of a degree of life in the big, wide world”.

Last year a report by Girlguiding found that three-quarters of 11 to 21-year-olds say that sexism has an impact on most areas of their lives. The fifth Girls’ Attitudes Survey suggested that inequality and discrimination continue to affect the lives of many young women.