Heads urge parents to protect children from internet porn

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SCHOOL leaders are calling for parents to take control of what their children watch online amid claims that youngsters are accessing pornography and violent computer games.

Two head teachers from Yorkshire told a conference yesterday that pupils try to recreate the violence themselves on the playground.

The debate at the National Association of Head Teachers annual conference, in Harrogate, comes as the Government plans to launch new measures to protect children from internet pornography.

John Killeen, a head from North Yorkshire who teaches in East Riding, said: “Head teachers are increasingly aware of children playing and being exposed to inappropriate software, films.”

These youngsters are replicating games that they have seen and that they are exposed to, he added.

“It could be combat, kung fu attacks, that they see people doing. They think they can replicate that in a play situation.”

Stephen Watkins, head of Mill Field Primary in Leeds, said: “Four-year-olds don’t understand if you hit someone over the head with a brick they’re not going to recover, they’re not going to jump up immediately as they do on the screen.”

Delegates at the NAHT conference are expected to debate resolutions this weekend calling for the Department for Education (DfE) to investigate the misuse of social media sites, and for the union’s executive to work with Government to clarify child protection guidance to help schools dealing with situations where children have been exposed to inappropriate material.

The Government is to consult on tough new measures to protect children from internet pornography.

Under plans being draw up by Downing Street, it would be up to customers to “opt-in” to receiving adult content online when they take out a broadband contract.

Campaigners have argued it is too easy for children to access explicit adult content on their phones and computers. Currently, parents who want to ensure their children do not have access to internet pornography must opt out of services. Tory backbencher Claire Perry has accused internet companies of being “complicit” in exposing children to pornography.

She said ISPs had been “dragging their feet” on reforming the way explicit material is accessed online. A report by MPs found 77 per cent of women would sign up to a default filter barring pornographic content.

Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman said “keeping children safe online is a real problem and a concern for millions of parents”.

Today Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg is expected to tell the conference the Government is ignoring the biggest crisis in the education system for a generation over school places.

He will say: “This Government has failed to get a grip on this urgent crisis in primary school places. This is the biggest crisis we currently face.

“Half a million more places are needed by the next General Election. Children are being crammed into overcrowded buildings and portakabins and parents are missing out on their first choice of primary school. But ministers are fiddling while Rome burns. First, they cut spending on school capital by nearly two thirds – twice the Whitehall average.

“Then, Ministers chaotically ended Labour’s own building programmes for primary and secondary schools, wasting valuable time and money. Finally, they have delayed their own so-called Priority Building Programme three times. Schools expected to hear on their applications in December whether they would get money: now it’s May and still no news.

“The Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) has been repeatedly delayed - the Government should get on with it.”

The Yorkshire Post revealed last year that bids totalling £225m had been submitted to the DfE from 11 councils – including the six authorities Bradford, Doncaster, Kirklees, Rotherham, North East Lincolnshire and Wakefield – which lost £1bn on projects which already had initial approval when Building Schools for the Future was scrapped two years ago.