Pornography online is warping children’s minds, teachers warn
"They will warn that the increased availability of pornography on the internet is warping school pupils’ ideas of sexual relationships and that children are often engaging in sexual behaviour on school premises.
Teacher leaders now believe the problem has become so significant that they want new policies to be drawn up on how to deal with the issue.
They are particularly concerned about the practice of “sexting” – which sees young girls being pressurised into taking intimate pictures or videos of themselves on a camera phone and sending them to others.
They are also asking for the introduction of new lessons on the dangers posed by pornography.
Helen Porter, a biology teacher who will raise a motion about the impact of pornography on pupils at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers annual conference next week, said: “Sexual activity in school is becoming more normalised because pupils are seeing it more.
“I’ve heard of a 13 year old girl taking part in an amateur porn video – it is really sickening. Research has found that 50 per cent of youngsters had taken part in some sort of webcam sexual experience.”
Official figures show that more than 3,000 pupils were excluded from state schools in 2010-2011 for sexual misconduct.
Recent research from Plymouth University also revealed that 80 per cent of young people are looking at sexual images online on a regular basis. The average age to start viewing pornography was about 11 or 12 while sexting was considered almost routine for many 13-14 year olds.
The academics warned that schoolchildren were becoming desensitised to sexual images after accessing hard core material.
The NSPCC has also reported a rise in the number of children being referred to its service centres across the country with “harmful sexual behaviour”.
Current sex education guidance, however, contains no reference to pornography or “sexting”, although the Department for Education is reviewing its content.
Mrs Porter said that easy access to pornography was changing the way young girls view their own bodies with some even wanting cosmetic surgery to achieve “unrealistic” body shapes.
“In many schools, pornography is never mentioned. But it needs to be,” said Mrs Porter. “If it is discussed children might begin to think about the damaging effects and they might realise that most of what they see is not what normally occurs between people.”
The charity Kidscape is calling for an automatic ban on adult content on the internet that would require adults who wanted to see it to “opt in”.
Peter Bradley, a spokesman for the charity, said: “Young people can access hard-core pornography 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they are doing so.”"