Teaching union calls for porn lessons on national curriculum amid fears children as young as 11 are addicted to adult websites
- Children are being given ‘unrealistic expectations of sex’ through porn
- Academics warned ‘common practice’ for children to become desensitised to sexual images after accessing porn at an early age
- The National Association of Headteachers argues current sex education guidelines for Primary School children are outdated
- Union claims pupils are growing up in a ‘sexualised world’ and need to be taught how to cope with issues such as porn
- The Mail continues to campaign for an automatic block on web porn
Daily Mail – PUBLISHED: 17:41 EST, 24 October 2012 | UPDATED: 05:09 EST, 25 October 2012
Education: Calls have been made for Primary School pupils to be taught about pornography
Children as young as 11 are becoming addicted to internet pornography giving them ‘unrealistic expectations’ of sex, according to new research.
It is now ‘common practice’ for schoolchildren to access hard core pornography at an early age and become desensitised to sexual images.
A study, published by Plymouth University, said that more children are finding themselves ‘hooked’ on internet porn before they become sexually active, leading to problems in later life.
The news comes as a teaching union said yesterday that children as young as ten should learn about pornography as part of the national curriculum.
The National Association of Headteachers said primary school teachers needed to respond to the fact that children were now getting a large amount of their information about sex from the internet.
They said sex education guidelines are hopelessly out of date and cannot cope with the ‘overtly sexualised world’ in which children are now growing up.
But many family campaigners will argue that teaching children about pornography could actually make the situation worse, because children could be introduced to the concept for the first time.
Campaigners say the easy access of porn online is harming children, and the NSPCC says they have seen an upsurge in calls from teenagers upset by what they have seen.
However, another teaching union – the National Union of Teachers – said it was too early to start teaching children about porn at primary school.
The Daily Mail is campaigning for an automatic block on web porn, with adults having to opt in if they want to access it.
In an interview with BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat programme, NAHT policy adviser Sion Humphreys said teachers should hold lessons on the ‘impact of pornography’.
‘Children are growing up in an overtly sexualised world,’ he said. ‘That includes easy access to porn and they need the skills to deal with it.
‘We would support children being taught in an age-appropriate way about the impact of pornography as part of a statutory Personal Social Health Education programme.’
Time for change: The National Association of Headteachers argue that pupils need to be taught about porn from the age of 10 because information is so easily accessible online
Mr Humphreys said that lessons could start from primary school but that the material would depend on age.
‘Evidence suggests ten isn’t too young to start lessons on pornography, but it wouldn’t be a full-on lesson but the grounding would be laid down,’ he said.
Biological facts are part of all lessons in secondary school science lessons. Beyond that parents have the right to withdraw their children from any sex education.
The National Union of Teachers however disagreed with their union colleagues.
They told the BBC that referring to issues of porn in lessons is a step too far, and that schools should only talk about it if asked by students.
But Leonie Hodge, from the charity Family Lives, said it was vital children learned about porn.
She said that at a time when 90 per cent of children own a smartphone, it is no longer relevant to talk about ‘making a baby’.
She said: ‘Teenagers are bombarded with pornography from a young age; you can’t escape it. It’s patronising to say they can’t cope with the lesson because they can.’
Siobhan Freegard, founder of website Netmums, said mothers frequently panic when they come across porn on a computer at home and would welcome support from schools.
She said: ‘It can be a minefield. Many don’t know what to do or say. For example a single mother may struggle with teenage boys, a single father may not know how to approach the subject with his daughter.
‘In very traditional households, they might not even talk about sex at all. The ideal solution is for schools and parents to work together.’
The Department of Education would not comment on the NAHT’s suggestion, but told Newsbeat that it is up to individual schools on how they teach sex education.