Maria Miller warned that young boys who see explicit images risk growing up with a warped idea of how to treat girls. She demanded that teachers, parents and internet giants do more to teach children how to use the web responsibly. This is from the Daily Mail…
…The Culture Secretary’s intervention came as the Prime Minister’s adviser on the sexualisation of children, Claire Perry, said it was never too early to start educating youngsters about the dangers of online porn.
‘People say primary school is too young. No: Babies can swipe iPads. You can’t, in some ways, start young enough,’ Mrs Perry told a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
And Mrs Miller, a mother of three, stressed that ‘responsible parents’ needed to speak to children earlier about the effect internet porn had on their understanding of relationships.
Charities say children as young as 11 are becoming addicted to internet porn, giving them ‘unrealistic expectations’ of sex. They also say it is encouraging boys to grow up viewing girls merely as sex objects.
Counsellors at ChildLine also report a surge in calls from youngsters traumatised after seeing adult images online.
Teaching unions have called for pupils to be taught about porn from the age of ten so they can protect themselves from stumbling across adult images.
Mrs Miller did not suggest an age, but said governors should think about whether it should be tackled in their schools.
She said: ‘There is guidance available to schools in terms of the way they can help young people navigate their responsibilities in this area. I am fearful of the result if we don’t take action particularly in terms of young boys’ attitudes to girls, their relationships, what’s seen as a normal relationship between two young people.’
It is the first time the Culture Secretary, who is in charge of internet policy, has spoken out over school lessons on porn.
While groups such as the NSPCC are in favour of such a move, some believe it could have the opposite effect of introducing children to adult material for the first time.
But Mrs Miller said many schools would naturally want to ‘ensure the children in their care understand the importance of not accessing material like that when they are underage, and also the pernicious effect of pornography in their lives long-term’.
She also said imposing filters on internet porn would not be enough – children had to be taught to use the web responsibly.
Special adviser Mrs Perry, Tory MP for Devizes, called on Education Secretary Michael Gove to bring in new statutory guidance for secondary schools about how teach children about online porn.
‘Teenage boys send teenage girls naked selfies [self-taken photos] and teenage girls send them,’ she said.
‘There are so many things wrong with that, and part of the problem is that children don’t understand that giving away digital identities is something that can stay with you for ever.’
Would you support the introduction of statutory guidance for schools about how to teach children about online porn or do you think schools are better left to find their own ways of dealing with the issue? Please let us know your views in the comments or on twitter…