New figures released today by the PSHE Association show the scale of parental concern about sexting amongst children and young people. An online poll of parents by YouGov* for the Association showed that 78% were either fairly or very concerned about sexting, compared to 69% who were concerned about alcohol misuse and 67% who were concerned about smoking. In response, 87% of respondents agreed that schools should do more to educate pupils about the risks involved in sexting.
It comes amid growing pressure on the government from parents and child safety experts to make PSHE education a statutory subject in English schools. Another recent poll** shows 91% of parents believe all pupils should receive PSHE lessons, to teach about the risks of sexting, as well as other issues such as contact from strangers online and the widespread availability of pornography.
Joe Hayman, Chief Executive of the PSHE Association, said:
“The message from parents is loud and clear: they want their children educated on risks like sexting in order to prevent them from doing something they could later regret.
There is no reason why the government cannot make PSHE a compulsory subject so issues like sexting and wider issues around contact from strangers online, sex and relationships and mental health can be treated with the attention they need. Evidence shows that these lessons help to prevent young people from putting themselves in risky situations and potentially breaking the law.
David Cameron’s government ignored countless warnings on this issue and was out of step with public opinion. We call on Theresa May and Justine Greening to listen to parents and give PSHE education the status it deserves.”
The campaign to make PSHE compulsory has also received widespread support from a number of public figures and celebrities.
TV host and businesswoman Kirstie Allsopp has joined the PSHE Association’s campaign. She said:
“Of course it remains our responsibility as adults and parents to stay up to date with technology so we can protect our children and reduce these pressures, but there are vital elements to do with sexual behaviour and peer pressure which need to be discussed in school, by qualified PSHE teachers and this government’s objection to compulsory PSHE is disgraceful and leaves kids at risk.”
*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,127 adults of which 1,159 were parents of children aged 18 or under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th - 21st April 2016.
** Total sample size was 4,246 adults of which 1,047 were parents of children 18 or under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30th March - 1st April 2016.
Both surveys were carried out online and the figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
For more information please contact James Saville on 07990 531355, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Conrad Arnavutian on 07905 334848. Or contact Joe Hayman at the PSHE Association direct on 07743 862 912.