St Dunstan’s College hosted a groundbreaking conference at Mansion House in June to discuss the issues around teenage use of pornography

St Dunstan’s College hosted a conference at Mansion House in London on Tuesday 20 June to discuss the issue of teenage pornography use. The ‘Let’s Talk About… Porn, Sex and Educating for the Difference’ conference brought together heads, deputy heads and pastoral leads from 100 schools – both independent and state – from across the country.

Opening the conference, St Dunstan’s Head, Nick Hewlett, said: “Teaching young children about pornography does not need to be undertaken in a binary way of wrong and right, indeed that is arguably unhelpful, but it should, in my view, be in schools where we facilitate sensitive conversations with children to help them understand the cyberspace they occupy, and to help them grow in the formulation of their own values and judgements in this space.

A St Dun Nick Himage
St Dunstan’s Head Nick Hewlett opened the conference and said we need to speak frankly to young people to help them navigate this unregulated and often violent area of cyberspace

“If we don’t get a grip on this and start talking with young people properly, we will have a generation coming through who will come out the other side entering adulthood with a completely distorted view of what sex should look like and feel like and consequently an intrinsic dissatisfaction that their sex life is not a replication of that. It is my view that we have a duty to help them navigate an unregulated world, understanding the context that porn is not reality. That sexual domination and control of women, or men, non-consensually is not the normality, nor is it acceptable.”

The conference followed the release of statistics from a 2023 Children’s Commissioner’s Report. This found that half of children who had seen pornography had seen it by the age of 13. Further, 79% had encountered violent pornography before the age of 18. Almost half (47%) of all report respondents stated that girls expect sex to involve violence, especially strangulation.

Cindy Gallop, founder and CEO of MakeLoveNotPorn also addressed delegates about the fact we don’t talk openly and honestly about porn, and this can lead young people to extreme and violent videos. Other speakers were: Chanel Contos, founder of Teach Us Consent, a campaign that was responsible for mandating consent education in Australian schools; Nicole Daley and Jess Alder, who travelled from the United States for the event, and are the creators of The Truth about Pornography Curriculum; and Justin Hancock, a leading UK-based sex and relationships educator.

St Dunstan’s College

Further reading: Let’s talk to our children about consent