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Impero Software: Students and pornography

OpinionSecondary Education
By Heather McLean | 19 July 2017
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Create DateJuly 19, 2017
Last UpdatedJuly 17, 2017

By Sam Pemberton, CEO of Impero Software.

The UK is in the midst of a pornography crisis. Attempts at greater censorship have taken the form of the Digital Economy Bill, as the government is now cracking down on explicit content. This legislation is designed to target the UK’s electric communications infrastructure. One of the main points of the bill is to restrict access to online pornography websites, which will make many of these sites increasingly difficult to access.

With such easy access to sexually explicit content, it’s no surprise that there is an increased number of young people sharing it across the classroom. Following a survey conducted in 2016, from more than 1500 teachers, an estimated 62% of them claimed they knew that pupils were in fact sharing explicit content, with 16% of people being around primary school age.

Changes to the curriculum

Earlier this year, Education Secretary Justine Greeing announced possible changes to the UK curriculum, to protect children against explicit online dangers. Soon, it might be compulsory for UK schools to have awareness lessons around the online pornography, sexting, and sexual harassment.

But before these possible changes come into play, teachers need to start having the hard discussions about this content with their students.

What children view has a drastic effect on their brains and on their bodies. Pornography can cause their brains to struggle to comprehend those more complex emotions. They can feel a sense of shock, confusion, arousal etc all at once.

Cybertrauma specialist  Catherine Knibbs has teamed with us to explore the best ways to effectively start this dialogue with students in the classroom:

Be cautious in approach

When approaching a child do so in a calm and understanding manor. Within a classroom setting, ensure you approach them privately. Allow them to speak openly, giving you the chance to create an open dialogue between yourself and your student.

Establish viewing intent

It is quite possible for a child to accidentally stumble across a site with explicit material, especially if search filters are not in place. Be sure to establish whether this was the case, or if it was in fact intentionally viewed. The most effective way to do this is to again, create an open dialogue with the child by asking open-ended questions. Questions like, “Would you like to tell me what happened?” “How are you feeling about what happened?” gives them the opportunity for them to tell you in their own words, how they came across the content.

Consider underlying issues

Once you have established if the content was deliberately accessed, consider if any underlying issues that have affected their answer. If the viewing was accidental, then it’s time to make them aware of the legalities around what they’ve seen. Make it clear to them that pornography is illegal to view for anyone under the age of 18. It is also worth seeing if the child could benefit from any further conversation on the issue.

However, if the child’s access to the content was intentional, then you may need to be aware of additional issues. Sexual abuse, child exploitation and other traumas are all potential signs of a pornography addiction. Though this is a difficult area of discussion to have, allow them to openly discuss with you what is going on in their personal lives, which will help provide you to make the best decisions for them and see what further action should be taken.

At this point, you should again mention the legalities surrounding the viewing of pornography, just as you would any other scenarios. Make them aware of the implications to what they’ve viewed, but always remain open and non-critical.

Having the right conversation might be a difficult task, but approaching it in a cautious way will open a much-needed dialogue and help crack down on the epidemic.

Impero’s technology monitors computers and mobile devices on school networks for terms being used which can cause concern, such as those associated with bullying, extremism and eating disorders.


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