Children may be exposed to a range of sexual material, including online pornography or exposure to youth produced sexual imagery (also known as ‘sexting’). These issues are not necessarily new; some of us may have experienced this as a result of an accidental typo in an internet search, or from deliberately looking up rude words out of curiosity!
Some suggestions for parents to consider are:
Use parental control tools and filters to help reduce the risks of your child being exposed to sexual content
Be aware that these tools can’t be relied upon alone so consider other approaches such as supervision.
Build a positive and ongoing dialogue:
Sex and relationships can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss with children. It’s difficult to know the right age to have these conversations and there can be real fears about ‘ruining’ innocence. Childnethave some useful advice to help parents.
Being exposed to sexual content can be confusing and distressing; it’s important to have conversations with children from an early age so they feel able to seek support and advice. Avoid using shaming or blaming terms – a fear of being punished may prevent children from accessing help
Schools should speak with children about sexualised content as part of age appropriate sex and relationships education (SRE). The PSHE association, the Sex Education Forum and UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) have useful guidance for schools and colleges about discussing issues such as pornography and ‘sexting’.
Inappropriate sexualised behaviour by children can often be managed by schools and parents; however in some cases it may require specialist advice and support. It’s important for schools to have clear policies and procedures in place to support children who may be demonstrating problematic or abusive sexualised behaviours. Schools should access local procedures or support; this may include Local Safeguarding Children Board, Preventative Services and Social Care teams, or organisations such as