Challenging the “corrosive” influence of pornography in adult society will help children fight back against sexting, a sociology professor has said.
Frank Furedi, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, made the comments in a letter to The Times. He wrote the letter in response to an investigation by the newspaper into the widespread sharing of sexual images by children.
Following the investigation, there were calls to introduce statutory sex education for all primary and secondary schools. The Christian Institute has previously warned of the dangers of a national curriculum for sex education.
Currently, local authority maintained secondary schools must teach sex education, but free schools, academies and all primary schools are not required to do so.
In his letter Furedi said sexting has “become widespread and even normal” among some young people.
“Children believe that it is their sexual identity rather than their accomplishments that gains them recognition”, he added.
He said raising children’s aspirations at home and school can help them “to take themselves more seriously”.
“Sex education is not an effective medium for achieving this objective. A far broader approach promoting a culture of learning is needed.
“Sexting is legitimated by the widespread availability of pornography in adult society; many children assume that pornography is real sex.”
He concluded that it was necessary to challenge this “corrosive influence”.
The Times’ investigation revealed that a 16-year-old had sent explicit images to a convicted paedophile.
Another teenager had sent “inappropriate images” to a member of staff.
The investigation revealed that since 2012, 1,218 pupils from 50 schools had either sent or received a sexually explicit image or video.
“When scaled up nationally, the figures suggest that 44,112 secondary school pupils have been caught sexting in the past three years”, the paper stated.
Last month Education Secretary Nicky Morgan rejected calls to make sex education a statutory subject in all primary and secondary schools in England.
At the time, spokesman for The Christian Institute, Humphrey Dobson, said: “Decisions about sex education should not be centralised. They should continue to be taken at the local level by teachers, parents and governors working in partnership.
“A national curriculum for sex education would see control taken away from schools and put in the hands of those who advocate the use of material which most parents would find unacceptable.”