Today we have been down to the Sex Education Forum. The focus of the meeting was the current hot potato of pornography and new technology. We were lucky enough to have a presentation from the Deputy Children’s Commissioner, Sue Berelowitz on the recently published report ‘Basically….porn is everywhere’.
Sue was very clear that although PSHE is still not a statutory subject ‘All schools should deliver SRE and ensure that staff are well trained to do so’. She advocated a whole school approach that included a full curriculum component, and which was not reliant on theme days of short bursts of input. The report leaves many questions unanswered, and whilst Sue discussed the evidence showing a correlation between young people viewing violent pornography and partaking in sexually violent or abusive behaviours, she did point out the difficulties of extending the research in the future to investigate the influence of pornography on the causality of such behaviours.
The report recommends:
1.The Department for Education should ensure that all schools understand the importance of, and deliver, effective relationship and sex education which must include safe use of the internet.
2. The Department for Education should ensure curriculum content on relationships and sex education covers access and exposure to pornography, and sexual practices that are relevant to young people’s lives and experiences, as a means of building young people’s resilience.
3. The Department for Education should rename ‘sex and relationships education’ (SRE) to ‘relationships and sex education’ (RSE) to place emphasis on the importance of developing healthy, positive, respectful relationships.
4. The Government, in partnership with internet service providers, should embark on a national awareness-raising campaign, underpinned by further research, to better inform parents, professionals and the public at large about the content of pornography and young people’s access of, and exposure to such content.
5. Through the commitments made to better protect girls and young women from gender-based violence in the ending violence against women and girls action plan, the Home Office and the Department for Education should commission further research into the safeguarding implications of exposure and/or access to pornography on children and young people, particularly in relation to their experiences of teenage relationship abuse and peer exploitation.
6. The Home Office should incorporate the findings of this report into the ongoing teen abuse campaign. Future activity on this workstream should reflect young people’s exposure to violent sexualised imagery within their peer groups and relationships.
The DfE will issue their response to the report on July 17th so we will let you know more then.
You can read the full report at