Labour has called for compulsory online sex education for secondary school pupils, including discussion of online pornography.
In a blog for HuffPostUk, Labour MP Louise Haigh called for changes to the syllabus to help students deal with cyber bullying and access to harmful online images.
Haigh criticised the Tories for a “dereliction of duty” over children and the internet, and also backed a code of conduct for social media providers to prevent abuse online.
This comes after Education Secretary Justine Greening said she would consider making sex education compulsory in England’s secondary schools.
Greening’s comments marked a departure from predecessors Nicky Morgan and Michael Gove, who both ruled the policy out.
In her blog Haigh wrote in favour of a “robust sex and relationship education” for children, to include “discussions about online pornography, so that they can question what they see online in a safe environment”.
She criticised the Government’s Digital Economy Bill for not mentioning online abuse or online education, accusing ministers of “ducking the challenge” or “not comprehending” it.
“Astonishingly, the Government have so far refused to even consider statutory online sexual education and the Government’s Keeping Children Safe strategy recently dedicated only a pitiful three paragraphs to the online world”, she said.
“We want to see statutory online education extend beyond simply sex education, to the entire online world. So children - who already are digital natives - can make safe, informed decisions.”
Labour’s Yvette Cooper has repeatedly urged the Government to introduce sex and relationships education for children from the age of seven.
She warned that “the digital age means that violent, abusive, sexual images are only ever a few clicks away”, and that “teachers are left with little advice on how to cope with issues like sexting and cyber bullying”.
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