Warn young children about pornography, say heads

Girl with tablet The new generation of devices makes it harder for parents to know what their child is viewing online

Related Stories

Young children should hear about the dangers of pornography as soon as they have access to the internet, leading head teachers say.

The ready availability of explicit material online has prompted serious concerns from the National Association of Head Teachers.

General secretary Russell Hobby said "the conversation should start" when children started going online.

But he stressed this was not about showing pornography in class.

He told reporters at his association's annual conference in Birmingham: "There isn't an easy answer, but as soon as children are getting access to this, it's time to begin the conversation."

Stephen Watkins, head teacher of Millfield School in Leeds, said: "Children as young as three - nursery age children - access computers. If they see something that shouldn't be there, they should know to go and tell an adult."

Start Quote

Young people need to know how to cope with and avoid these distorted views of relationships.”

End Quote Russell Hobby NAHT

He recalled having to respond to a boy in class who had turned up some explicit images when researching the North Pole on the internet. And he said an approach which responded to issues when they arose in a low-key way was the option he favoured.

Mr Watkins added that many parents were concerned about the easy access of such material on other people's portable devices and smart phones, which they could not block in the same way as their home computers.

He also warned that parents were setting up under-age Facebook accounts for their children which potentially left them able to access inappropriate material. Youngsters under the age of 14 are not permitted to have their own accounts.

He said of 33 children aged ten and 11 in his own school's top year, he had discovered 24 were already on Facebook.

Mr Watkins said he had written to their parents to warn them they were going against the social network's own rules and that they were potentially exposing their children to inappropriate material.


An independent survey of 1,009 parents for the NAHT suggested 83% felt pupils should learn about the dangers of pornography in sex education lessons.

Four out of 10 thought this should happen in the early primary school years, while 51% believed it was more appropriate to tackle the subject in the teenage years.

The NAHT said it had no official figures on the number of children accessing pornography, but an event would be held later this year "to get agencies working together on these issues and to pool data".

According to internet security firm Bitdefender, a survey of 19,000 parents worldwide suggested 1.16% of children had accessed pornography by the age of six.

The NAHT said the issue was increasingly troubling to teachers and heads as they grapple with the impact of pornography on pupils' self-image and their perceptions of sexuality.

Mr Hobby said his association had been working with a number of agencies for some time to address these concerns.

He added that his association had said repeatedly 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."

The vast majority of parents, 83%, had confidence in schools' ability to help their children understand the issues, the NAHT survey suggested, while 13% felt the subject should be left to parents alone.

Nine out of 10 felt all equipment allowing internet access should have a default block on pornographic websites.


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 553.

    Yes, we need to ban porn and degrading images right away.
    Let's start with draping all the oil paintings of busty godesses and nubile nymphs in the art galleries.
    And cover up those dodgy Greek vases - what those satyrs get up to isn't fit to be seen in public.
    Porn's existed forever : let's deal with it appropriately, not try to do the impossible and ban it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    i find it funny that so many people say its a "misrepresentation of sex" when truth is its really not, just because you have a boring sex life does not mean everyone else around you does, infact 90% of the people you see or bump into today are doing these things you think dont really exsist outside of porn. sex has become this horrible secret or something in society today seems like a joke to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 551.

    509 "I have boys, teens and younger, and i am teaching them that sex is about respect & relationship and porn is wrong" - yep and they are busy ignoring you and watching a bucket load of porn. Nothing will get teenaged boys doing something quicker than preaching at them it's wrong. The idea that all sex must be in the context of a relationship is a myth. Some is, some is just a laugh.

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    We do let let our kids have unsupervised access to the net ever! Our "kids" PC has its screen in view from the living room they have parental protection on them both.

    My eldest from 14 of so has a Lap top as she is doing GCSE's and that has parental protection on it. It must be down stairs by 8.00pm

    Any parent that allows uncontrolled access to the internet is just stupid IMHO.

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    Seems pretty obvious to include pornography in the curriculum as part of general studies along with gambling, financial basics and any number of other life skill items. The availability of pornographic images and videos is now universal and available freely in vast quantities so a candid discussion of its addictiveness or distortion of average behavior makes perfect sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    Whilst I don't necessarily agree with pornography, surely this whole thing is just the modern version of hiding Playboy underneath the hedge at the edge of the football pitch? Admittedly most of the stuff online is more graphic than the photos in those top shelf magazines, but perhaps it will encourage them to behave more sensibly when they actually come to have sex themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    People complain elsewhere about the loss of childhood. This is just another step in that direction. I'd have thought it would have increased kids' likelihood of actually looking for something - always assuming they can spell it in the first place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    towards men and so u cant blame us for all this when its clearly seducing material and hard for men however there are limits although. anyway my point being that their is not much good in porn other than the obvious so yes educating is key and kids should know but dont let them watch it, they should have an idea though its tough but u can control some aspects of it

  • Comment number 545.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    534"to mention we are living in highly sexualised society as a result of selling sex everywhere. so then dont complain when women get raped etc. "

    The UK isn't without its rapists but to blame it on porn is a stretch. If you want to see women being victimized sexually look at the predominantly Muslim Egypt and how those women are treated. Male porn-stars are chivalrous and respectful compared.

  • Comment number 543.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    @30 Do you really believe that? I' not a teacher but why are teachers opinions and experiences any less valuable than yours? To make such claims as you do beggars belief.

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    534. asim soulja
    You may want to rephrase that, seems like your excusing rapists given the fact that naughty images and videos exist online. You also mention "we" are living in a highly sexualised society. What "we" do you mean?

    I agree that pornography can lead to unhealthy obsessions, but 99% of the time? Given rough viewing figures that suggests a global porn pandemic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    @536 The point is why would young children with no knowledge of porn be searching for those words especially with "forced" in front of them?
    It isn't exactly the kind of thing they're going to 'stumble upon'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    Were I a parent I would probably want to supervise internet access for any young kids, yes, to prevent them being exposed to a lot of things and to help put a lot of stuff into some sort of context. But I'm not sure porn education is a reasonable idea.

    @Asim Soulja
    Rape actually decreases in countries with porn. It's countries that ban it and force women to cover up that have the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    Mankind is not up to much really if it is debating about our right to be able to watch abuse, violence, degradation of women , society is getting sicker and sicker by the day. There is plenty of data becoming available about the physiological and relationship issues stemming from watching porn. Shut down all porn sites and enjoy a healthy happy sex life..

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    @527. asim soulja
    Are we? I'd say we are all victims of religious fundamentalist terror - unable to go through an airport with out hours of paperwork and checking, snooping on all our personal lives to find the lunatics etc etc
    As for porn, if you don't like it you don't need to be involved. Sex is a natural act, as is masturbation, get over it. Don't do it if you don't want

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    Righto, people. Most of you need to go to the 'Images' page of any well known search engine and enter some very rude words. then you might have some idea of what your children are actually looking at. Surely I don't have to give you the first letters of the words? You are naive in the extreme if you think its page three with men added. Try putting the word 'forced' before any of the rude words.

  • Comment number 535.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    end of the day its mainly bad period.as it 99% of the time is an addiction causing and leading to other wrong things, to mention we are living in highly sexualised society as a result of selling sex everywhere. so then dont complain when women get raped etc. all good for me that kind stuff dont affect me but dont blame it on men all the time. women are too blame for this stuff too. porns bias to


Page 4 of 31


More Education & Family stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.