Primary-aged children should be taught about the dangers of sending sexually explicit picture and text messages via mobile phones, according to Government plans.
So-called ‘sexting’ is seen as part of the growing sexualisation of young girls under pressure from boys who have watched too much pornography.
It has also led to bullying of girls whose images and messages have been publicly displayed on the internet. One girl committed suicide over such an incident.
However, many parents will feel primary-aged children are too young to have lessons on such an explicit subject.
The Government has accepted the recommendations from a report by the Violence Against Women and Girls Advisory Group.
The group recommends that all school staff should be trained “in the impact of technology on violence against women and girls”.
This includes “sexting, grooming, child sexual abuse and sexualised images of children and young people on line”.
The report says that children “need to know what to do about inappropriate touching or other forms of abuse, including being filmed or encouraged to watch pornography etc.”
The advisory group, which represents women’s and anti-bullying organizations, also recommends that media literacy lessons should be included in schools’ curricula in a bid to tackle the “objectification of women and girls” in the mainstream media.
Last August a survey revealed that more than a third of teenagers had received indecent sexual images by text message or email, many of which were from other teenagers.
38 per cent of the 2,094 young people in the survey carried out by children’s charity Beatbullying, said they had received a sexually explicit text or email.
In 2008, a woman aged 18 from Cincinnati, Ohio, committed suicide after being bullied by fellow pupils who had seen indecent photos of her.
And a Home Office report released last month said that there was a clear link between the intake of sexual imagery and violence towards women.
The report, written by Dr Linda Papadopoulos, said: “The evidence gathered in the review suggests a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm.
“Both the images we consume and the way we consume them are lending credence to the idea that women are there to be used and that men are there to use them.”