Teachers to discuss impact of pornography on pupils at conference | Education

Teachers will discuss the “dehumanising” impact pornography has on students at a national conference this week.

Educators attending the National Education Union’s (NEU) event in Bournemouth are expected to raise concerns over “the prevalence of pornography which shows the harmful and humiliating treatment of women”.

The conference will also explore whether current sex and relationships education adequately deals with issues of misogyny, sexism and consent, or leaves students vulnerable to being “miseducated” by watching porn.

A 2020 survey by Brook, a sexual health and wellbeing charity for young people, concluded that young people believed a lack of information from schools and parents was leaving them at risk, and felt that higher quality sex education would leave them feeling more empowered.

The NEU is particularly concerned by the findings of a 2021 Ofsted report which found that 90% of girls and 50% of boys had reported that either they or their peers had been sent explicit pictures they did not wish to see “a lot” or “sometimes”.

The review was launched after thousands of disclosures on the website Everyone’s Invited about sexual harassment and sexual violence involving state and independent schools, as well as universities.

More than 51,000 testimonies have since been shared on the site, naming hundreds of educational settings across the UK. Disclosures made by pupils and students highlight the full spectrum of abusive behaviour in schools, from lower-level harassment to serious sexual assault and rape.

At the conference, the NEU will look at evidence that pornography “predominantly features young women being subjected to acts of violence such as strangulation and choking as well as racialised tropes, all of which dehumanise women”, as well as debate the increasingly sexualised nature of social media.

Teachers are also set to discuss whether incidents of sexual harassment – on and offline – should be consistently recorded by schools so that worrying patterns can be identified and adult intervention taken to protect pupils from escalating abuse.

The NEU annual conference (11 April to 14 April) will be attended by up to 1,600 delegates.

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