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8 November 2012
PSHE Association guidance published today aims to help teachers to support young people’s understanding of the difference between positive and negative relationships and how pornography may distort their view of what is normal – both in terms of body image and sexual relationships.
NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) policy adviser Siôn Humphreys suggested in a recent interview that schools should help students to understand the impact of pornography. We support this opinion, though only if the issue is tackled as part of a well-planned and well-delivered programme of PSHE education.
Siôn Humphreys told BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat programme that “Children are growing up in an overtly sexualised world that includes easy access to porn and they need the skills to deal with it."
He added that "we (i.e. the NAHT) would support children being taught in an age-appropriate way about the impact of pornography as part of a statutory Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) programme.”
The PSHE Association advises that schools work with students, staff and parents to develop a programme that meets student needs. Teachers recognise the need to address some of these issues but require support to get it right.
Our new guidance warns that when developing lessons to explore issues of sexualisation and pornography, teachers are contractually bound to work within the school’s policies on sex and relationships education and child protection. They must have the support of the senior management team and governors and ideally have worked with parents and carers.
Even if a school does not feel able to cover pornography as a specific topic, it should ensure that it is providing sex and relationships education that meets the needs of the young people in its community – and this should include an exploration of sexual ethics including themes such as consent, respect, negotiation, equality, rights, empowerment, trust, honesty and boundaries.
We continue to offer support to our members as they help pupils to deal with this and the many other difficult and challenging issues they encounter in today’s society.