Teach children about web porn, says Tory MP Claire Perry

NSPCC research claims children believe internet pornography dictates how they should behave in a sexual relationship

An advisor to David Cameron says sex education in schools is out of tune with the modern age as it fails to combat children’s increasing exposure to online pornography.

Claire Perry, MP for Devizes in Wiltshire and an advisor to the Prime Minister on preventing the sexualisation of childhood, said that young people’s views of relationships and sex were being distorted by images and videos easily accessed on the internet.

Perry spoke out following the publication of research carried out by the NSPCC for The Daily Telegraph which claimed that nearly a third of children aged between 11 and 18 believe internet pornography dictates how they should behave in a sexual relationship.

Writing in response to the NSPCC research, Perry, a divorced mother of three, said: “The rise of sexting, online bullying, porn and young people documenting their entire lives on the web needs to be a core tenet of how we teach sex and relationships.”

The NSPCC report that led to her comments also said that many girls feel they have to “look and perform like porn stars” in order to gain boys’ approval.

The current sex education curriculum, drawn up in 2000, focuses principally on the mechanics of sex and pregnancy. Claire Lilley, a policy adviser for the NSPCC branded the guidelines “woefully inadequate”, saying they did not take into account the growing prevalence of the internet in young people’s lives.

“Many children will have already been exposed to a vast amount of inappropriate, unrealistic and sometimes downright harmful pornography through the internet. This can warp their view of what is normal and acceptable sexual behaviour,” she said.

“To protect children from these damaging messages they must be taught about sex in the context of healthy, caring relationships and how to protect and respect themselves and others.“

72 per cent of pupils involved in the NSPCC’s research agreed that their sex education should cover pornography and other issues more relevant to young people, rather than focusing simply on reproduction.

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