News at a glance

3rd April 2015 at 01:00

Children's porn addiction fears revealed in poll

One in 10 children aged 12-13 are worried that they may be addicted to porn, a survey for the NSPCC's ChildLine service shows. And about one in five say they have seen pornographic images that have shocked or upset them. The survey of more than 700 children also reveals that more than one in 10 young people have made or taken part in a sexually explicit video. ChildLine founder Dame Esther Rantzen said that children as young as 11 had contacted the helpline with concerns about pornography. "We know they are frequently stumbling across porn, often unintentionally, and they are telling us very clearly that this is having a damaging and upsetting effect on them," she added.

Poverty hampers brain development, study finds

The brains of young people from poor backgrounds are less developed than those of their wealthier peers, according to research. Scans of more than 1,000 children and young people reveal that the surface area of the cerebral cortices (the outer layer of the brain where most advanced cognitive processing occurs, including that associated with language and reading) is smaller among poorer children. The study by researchers from Columbia University in the US, published in Nature Neuroscience, finds a significant correlation between cortical surface area and family income. Children from families earning $25,000 a year or less have up to 6 per cent less cortical surface area than children in families making more than $150,000. Contributing factors identified by the researchers include less exposure to language, greater stress and a worse diet.

Train teachers to tackle homophobia, charity urges

Gay rights charity Stonewall has demanded the next government provide training for all teachers on dealing with homophobic bullying. The call is made in its equality manifesto, released ahead of the general election. The charity has made the issue of bullying, including biphobic and transphobic bullying, a central part of its school campaigns. Stonewall is also calling for statutory PSHE and sex and relationships education in all primary and secondary schools. The compulsory classes should include discussions about different types of families to ensure awareness of diversity and cover issues around consent, abuse and online safety, it says.

Labour pledges to stop Ofsted `choking' schools

A Labour government would carry out "far-reaching reform" of Ofsted, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has said. Speaking at the ATL teaching union's conference in Liverpool this week, Mr Hunt said the inspection system had begun to "choke" the "joy, wonder and beauty of schooling". Instead, inspections should be "supportive" and "light-touch", he argued, adding that they should be led by the profession, centrally moderated and peer-reviewed.

Hot cross parents stressed out by Easter break

The craft of teaching still retains some mystique, it seems. Most parents have no idea how to keep their children occupied during the day or to ensure that they learn, according to a survey. The poll of 1,000 adults, conducted on behalf of toy manufacturer Sphero, finds that 60 per cent of parents are worried about what to do with their children during the Easter break. And 20 per cent find holidays more stressful than term time. Although most say they would like their offspring to learn and develop new skills while away from school, 24 per cent admit they don't know what to do with their children when it rains.

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