Parents back schools to teach about dangers of online porn
Both primary and secondary schools should play a major role in teaching children about the dangers of online pornography, new research suggests.
A survey of 1,009 parents, carried out on behalf of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), found that more than three-quarters (83 per cent) thought schools should share with them the responsibility for teaching children about the risks associated with viewing pornography online.
The majority (51 per cent) of survey respondents said lessons about internet porn should not take place until secondary school, however 42 per cent thought it appropriate for schools to teach children about the risks as soon as they were old enough to access the internet, even if aged five or six.
Just seven per cent of parents thought the subject was inappropriate to be taught in school, while 13 per cent thought it should be the sole responsibility of parents to educate children about it.
The survey also found that 60 per cent of parents were worried or very worried about their children viewing explicit material of a violent or sexual nature online, while 90 per cent supported the idea that all equipment that can access the internet should come with a default block on pornographic websites that require users to “opt in” to view.
Despite parents’ concerns, 80 per cent said they felt confident or very confident about protecting their children online, and a similar proportion felt confident about talking to their child about sex and relationships.
The issue of pornography is becoming increasingly troubling to teachers as they attempt to manage the impact of readily-accessible explicit material on pupils’ self-image and perceptions of sexuality.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT, said: “NAHT has repeatedly said that young people must be protected from pornography and children should receive appropriate guidance as part of relationship and sex education. We would also like to see improved advice for schools to help them manage these issues most effectively.
“There is no place for explicit materials in the classroom or school, even in the course of teaching about their dangers, but many young people are exposed to such materials on the internet and phones. In the face of this, young people need to know how to cope with and avoid these distorted views of relationships.
“It is reassuring to see that parents accept that schools are an essential part of the support network for their children. In a fast-paced communications environment that can present pupils with confusing messages, few parents believe there is an option to pretend it isn’t happening.”