Claire Perry: Teach Children About Web Porn

Claire Perry: Teach Children About Web Porn

Children should be taught about the impact of online pornography at school, according to one of David Cameron's advisers.

Tory MP Claire Perry, who has worked with the Prime Minister on plans to tackle the spread of extreme pornography and child abuse online, wants guidelines to be updated.

Mrs Perry, a mother-of-three, says children's views of sex and relationships are being shaped by the online porn they can easily access via the internet.

Her intervention comes as research by the NSPCC for the The Daily Telegraph shows almost a third of pupils aged between 11 and 18 believe porn dictates how they should behave in a relationship.

Girls feel like they have to "look and perform like film stars" to get the attention of boys, according to the children's charity which polled 601 secondary school pupils.

Some 72% of pupils agreed that their sex education should cover porn and other issues more relevant to young people, instead of focusing on how reproduction works.

Mrs Perry noted that current statutory guidance for schools on sex education was written in 2000 and does not refer to how easy it is to access online porn.

She claims children now send pornographic pictures to each other - called "selfies" - using their smartphones in the same way they used to send notes in class.

"This youthful connectivity comes at a potentially high price," she wrote in a blog for the newspaper.

"The internet has created a cultural challenge where children are viewing online pornography and other harmful material at a very young age and the nature of the material that they see can be so extreme that it distorts their view of sex and relationships."

She added: "The rise of sexting, online bullying, porn and young people documenting their entire lives on the web needs to be a core tenet of how we teach sex and relationships."

NSPCC policy adviser Claire Lilley also branded current sex education guidelines "woefully inadequate" because they predate social media.

"Many children will have already been exposed to a vast amount of inappropriate, unrealistic and sometimes downright harmful pornography through the internet. This can warp their view of what is normal and acceptable sexual behaviour," she said.

“To protect children from these damaging messages they must be taught about sex in the context of healthy, caring relationships and how to protect and respect themselves and others."