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Protecting Children from Pornography: RSHE Education in the UK

There has been a growing problem of pornography for many years now, and it’s only getting worse. The findings of a 2022/23 Dignify School Report Survey inform us of the following; 40% of children have viewed pornography, and, of those who have viewed it again, 38% of them have gone on to act out what they have seen.

“Sadly, we are hearing from more young people that they are watching pornography and thinking that it is reflective of real life or healthy relationships, which is not the case. This is reflected from what I heard recently from a young person: “Porn is often the starting point for young people when it comes to sex, how to have sex, and what to expect.”

Young Woman, 20, first saw pornography aged 10. (Dignify School Report Survey)

Evidence on pornography’s influence on harmful sexual behaviour among children, May 2023, Children’s Commissioner.

The children’s commissioner also says the following: ‘For too long we have brushed the issue of pornography under the carpet as awkward, uncomfortable, or too difficult to solve. It is crucial that we don’t shy away from discussing the nature, scale and impacts of online pornography. No child should be able to stumble across pornography online; in a world where pornography is a click away for any child, I am clear that this must change and until then we must grapple with the implications.’

This is an issue that needs to not only be addressed more in general, but particularly within education. It’s within the education system – such as through RSHE (Relationships, Sex & Health Education) - that we are able to have these frank conversations. However, due to the nature of the subject, care must be taken to navigate this troubling, rising issue.

With the negative impact of pornography on children’s expectations around bodies and sexual expectations; relationships and sex are a big point of discussion. Despite this, a third of children and young people report that they have not been taught around this topic in school. The discussion around gender inequality, misogyny, and exposure to pornography has been heightened due to recent news stories concerning the influencer, Andrew Tate, as well as a general influence from social media.

Understanding the changing landscape is means that there is a real need for RSHE teachers to have both knowledge and confidence when it comes to tackling pornography in an educational setting.

Our upcoming conference on the issue - Protecting Children from Online Pornography 2024 – will provide you with the relevant knowledge, training, and confidence to tackle pornography in an RSHE education setting.

Join us for this one-day, online conference to get insight from leading experts into the current dangers and impact of pornography in schools and support you in the effective delivery of RSHE in this area. With conversation on a range of topics to support you with preventative education, raising awareness, reporting, record keeping, gender inequality and the rise of image sharing. You will come away feeling better equipped to tackling this challenging subject in your school.

Click here to find out more.

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