Response to NSPCC and Children’s Commissioner report on impact of online pornography on young people

The PSHE Association has welcomed today’s report commissioned by the NSPCC and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner on the impact of online pornography on young people.

The report suggests that more than half of young people aged 11-16 have been exposed to online pornography and that significant numbers (of young men in particular) believe that what they have seen portrayed is realistic and want to emulate it. Many of the young people who took part in the research stated that in the absence of high-quality education on the subject, they had looked to pornography to learn about sex, while others had been exposed to it through pop ups and via social media rather than seeking it out deliberately.

Responding to the report, PSHE Association Chief Executive Joe Hayman said:

“This important report suggests that many children and young people are being exposed to pornographic material which some find distressing and which others may seek to emulate. In the absence of high-quality education on the subject, the report suggests that many young people turn to pornography to learn about sex.

The way that pornography is shared by young people means that filters can only ever be part of the response to this disturbing trend. High-quality education, providing a safe space for young people to explore consent and healthy relationships, in the context of wider learning relating to media literacy, equality and emotional health, is crucial. That is what PSHE is all about.

A statutory entitlement to PSHE education for all children and young people is now supported by the Children’s Commissioner, the national police lead for child sexual exploitation, the Chief Medical Officer, two royal societies, five Parliamentary select committee chairs, six royal medical colleges, 100 leading organisations including the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the Association of Chairs of Local Safeguarding Children Boards, Barnardo’s, the NSPCC, the Children’s Society, 88% of teachers, 91% of parents and 92% of young people.

We hope the government will listen to pupils, parents and professionals and act to keep children safe.”

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