Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:

“It is important that as a society we understand the fact that pornography is now very readily available and significant numbers of teenagers will view it online and hear about it from peers. Recent evidence tells us that 51% of 11-13 year olds have seen pornography, rising to 79% of 16-17 year olds. (1) For young children, this can occur by accident or because of algorithms, rather than the young person seeking the content.  

“The majority of pornography projects a distorted view of sex and sexual relationships and it should be a matter of concern that mainstream sites regularly feature violent acts against women and girls, incest and racism.

“Children and young people may not have the critical analysis or maturity to understand or cope well with exposure to pornography. It can lead to a distorted view of what relationships are and place expectancy and pressure on young people about how they view sex and what supposed sexual norms are. For many teenagers this is another source of intimidation, pressure and confusion. 

"As a union we are supporting schools to address sexual harassment and to explore how teachers and all staff can take a whole school approach to gender equality and sexist, homophobic and transphobic stereotypes. As a society, we must not underestimate the impact viewing pornography has on young people. Relationships and Sex Education as a subject must be used to explore with young people what healthy relationships look like. RSE needs to have enough time in the school curriculum to empower young people around the key areas of consent, self-worth and respect because levels of sexual harassment in schools and across society are deeply entrenched and cause real harm and abuse.

"Schools need the time, support and training to be confident in educating young people around sex and relationships. The Government must give ongoing leadership on RSE and signal that it is an essential part of the curriculum.”

Editor’s Note

BBFC 2019 research, Online pornography and age-verification: What Parents Need to Know


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