Thursday, November 1, 2012

Three-quarters of teachers fear easy access to hardcore porn through smartphones and the web is 'damaging' pupils

Three-quarters of teachers believe easy access to hardcore pornography through mobile phones and the internet is ‘damaging’ their pupils. Girls as young as 11 are dressing like ‘inflatable plastic dolls’ while young boys are developing ‘almost pathological’ attitudes to sex as a result, according to research. Some boys even admit to being unable to get to sleep without first viewing pornography while others are obsessed with getting a perfect body shape. The study reveals escalating concern about children’s exposure to sexual images. Teaching staff warn that children are developing warped views of relationships as they feel pressured to perform sex acts, use derogatory sexual language and even consider plastic surgery. They also blame books and television programmes with overtly sexual themes, such as the hit novel Fifty Shades of Grey and TV series The Only Way Is Essex, for the increased sexualisation of under-16s. A third of more than 500 teachers surveyed by the Times Educational Supplement said they believed the majority of their pupils aged 16 and under ‘regularly’ viewed hardcore pornography. Most of those questioned were from secondary schools but some were from primaries. Three in four said that easy access to explicit material was having damaging consequences on pupils. One said: ‘Children from as young as Year Seven (aged 11) are becoming over-sexualised. They feel under lots of pressure to perform sex acts.’ Another added: ‘Very overly sexualised language is becoming the norm when speaking to each other, and more so about each other.’ Some teachers warned that watching pornography had resulted in ‘awful’ behaviour of boys towards young women. They highlighted ‘constant inappropriate chat, and shocking knowledge of strange sexual practices from younger pupils’. Teachers also complained that pupils had become increasingly preoccupied with body image and plastic surgery. More than half said they knew a pupil who wanted surgery to improve looks. They also reported girls obsessed with make-up and tanning ‘to the detriment of study’. They warned that parents were ‘naive’ about the amount of pornography children could access. Kenny Frederick, head teacher of George Green’s School in East London, said easy access was a problem. She added: ‘Our pupils have to hand in their phones, so they are not viewing it in school, but you can’t control what they do outside.’ Mrs Frederick added that ‘sexting’ – where pupils send photos of their body parts on their phones – was a concern. The Daily Mail is campaigning for an automatic block on internet pornography, with adults having to opt in for access. The TES survey comes as an explicit NHS sex education website for teenagers has been accused by family values campaigners of encouraging ‘an unhealthy obsession’ with physical acts. Additionally, a study from Plymouth University published earlier this week found that children as young as 11 are becoming addicted to internet pornography, giving them ‘unrealistic expectations’ of sex. A Department for Education spokesman said schools are encouraged to provide pupils with good, age-appropriate sex and relationships education.

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