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Porn is warping how boys treat girls – big tech must do more to keep our kids safe


MAKING sure our kids are safe is the number one priority for anyone who brings up a child.

We like to think we will do anything to protect them from the dangers that may be out there in the big wide world.

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Sexual harassment in schools is rising and many parents feel they have no way of helping[/caption]

But when it comes to protecting them from online harms, such as pornography or the other inappropriate content many children are looking at every day, parents often feel they are out of their depth, or they are in denial.

Indeed, when parents were quizzed about their children’s access to porn online, three-quarters assumed their kids had never seen any.

In fact, research shows more than half of children have seen porn online — including around two-thirds of all teenagers.

PEER ABUSE 

I’m pleased to have been asked by the Government to look at how we can better protect our children from accessing internet porn, and what more we can do to give parents the confidence to talk to their kids about what they’re doing online.

In the next few months, I’ll be publishing some practical advice. It is needed now more than ever.

Yesterday, Ofsted published its review into sexual abuse in schools, launched following the sharing of thousands of stories of harassment and abuse on the Everyone’s Invited website.

I worked in schools for decades as a headteacher and CEO, but even I was shocked by both the volume and the descriptions of the everyday abuse experienced by girls in schools, online and in the streets.

As an adviser to Ofsted’s review, I was clear that all of us — schools, parents and politicians — need to do more to prevent peer-on-peer abuse from happening, as well as providing better support to children who are victims.

PA:Press Association

A shocking 66% of teens have seen porn online – and it’s warping boys’ views of what they can expect from girls[/caption]

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Porn is just a click away for any kids with a smart phone[/caption]

But this is not simply a school problem. It is a societal problem.

I am particularly concerned about the failure of the big tech platforms and internet porn sites to tackle children’s access to porn.

As Ofsted’s report shows, sexual abuse in schools is often fuelled by the social media platforms our children use.

It is every child’s — and parent’s — nightmare to discover that explicit pictures are being shared around the school via WhatsApp or Snapchat.

At the same time, some of our children are developing disturbing or unrealistic expectations around sex, body image and consent.

This is not simply a school problem. It is a societal problem.

There is nothing prudish about this. Viewing hardcore pornography from a young age can warp boys’ views of what they can expect from girls, and normalise behaviour from girls to do things they don’t want to do.

It also does not help that girls are seeing an endless stream of airbrushed images that create unrealistic and unhealthy expectations about how they should look.

All this in turn can lead to the appalling abuse high-lighted by Everyone’s Invited.

Nobody, not even the most strident defender of freedom of choice, thinks children should have access to porn.

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Sexual abuse in schools is often fuelled by the social media platforms our children use[/caption]

Yet it is just a click away for any youngster with access to a smart phone, without any age verification.

Just as in the real world we wouldn’t leave something dangerous lying around at home and simply hope our child doesn’t pick it up, in the online world we shouldn’t leave children to stumble across porn, as so many do the first time they see it, while the tech giants and porn barons turn a blind eye.

The Government’s new Online Safety Bill is a very welcome start and a once-in-a-generation chance to put greater responsibility on tech companies to make their platforms safer and happier places for children.

But it doesn’t go far enough in tackling the problem of children accessing porn.

Nor does it do enough to make porn sites introduce robust age verification.
It will also take years for the new online harms regulatory regime to be set up — but children need protection right now.

So in the next few weeks, I’ll be meeting with tech companies, urging them to do much more to protect children online, even before the law changes.

I’ll be starting with OnlyFans, a site that a recent investigation showed has failed to stop some children from selling explicit videos of themselves.

EXPLICIT VIDEOS

I’ll also be working with the Government and others to toughen up the Online Safety Bill, because the tick box exercises currently in place — which children can easily get around — just aren’t keeping children safe.

Above all, I want to see the tech giants signing up to effective age verification systems and porn sites having to properly check users’ ages.

Eyevine

Rachel de Souza is a former headteacher and Children’s Commissioner for England[/caption]


This would help to tackle the problem of some children stumbling across porn by accident.

The brave contributors to Everyone’s Invited showed huge courage when they shared their experiences.

It’s now time to show that bravery hasn’t been for nothing and start to deal with the root causes of abuse and sexual harassment in our schools.

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