The NAHT have just announced publicly their support for the No More Page 3 campaign, an acknowledgement of the harm caused to young people by the public visibility of Page 3 images from those on the frontline. Perhaps this will put to bed the idea that it is only the issue of online porn which needs to be tackled and that by comparison Page 3 is harmless. The Sun themselves have used this argument to justify the continued publication of the feature, but perhaps David Dinsmore, the new editor, will have the grace to reconsider in light of the NAHT announcement.
The No More Page 3 campaign has always attracted signatures on the petition from teachers and as Dinsmore has had the chance to put forward his view on the subject publicly, perhaps we should also hear what the teachers have to say:
'My students are between 16 and 19 years old and I regularly hear young girls discussing the effect of Page 3 and magazines that print such images. The most common point that they make is how inferior they are made to feel by these images and how (not all) the boys intimidate them with comments about their bodies and why they don't "match up" to these images. They are called all kinds of derogatory names and the emotional impact on these young people is astounding. That we live in a culture that encourages, even intimidates young women to consider their body as their primary concern (above their intellectual and emotional self) is detrimental to the relationships that they have and will have in future. Such a culture is no better than being surrounded by bullies'.
'As a secondary school teacher in an inner-city comprehensive I could see relenting evidence that the feature was feeding the misogyny into young minds.'
'I'm a secondary school teacher and I am appalled at the attitude some boys have to the girls - I know that it is only part of the problem, but easily accessible naked pictures of young women degrade women as a whole and contribute (I believe) to a negative image for women in general'.
'Last week a parent sent in the Sun in a pile of newspapers that we use for art lessons in school. I obviously removed page 3 before the children saw but realised I have no way of explaining why those photos would be in a paper that is meant to be about news. What good reason is there? Children do not live in bubbles, they will come across these images easily and their minds are moulded at a very young age.'
'I'm a teacher of 9 year olds. As part of our English curriculum we study news reports. When making up their own reports, 75% will put 'The Sun' at the top of their mock newspaper which shows how aware they are of this paper. I never ask children to bring in papers to cover painting tables etc as previously I've had children bring in The Sun and The Star and open up the page 3 to show other pupils in class. Also whenever I say turn to page 3 in a book, there are smirks and sniggers because even they know what page 3 means. The school nurse who delivers sex education has to educate 10 year olds that breasts are for feeding babies not for boys to stare at. If there was no page 3 none of this would happen.'
'I was a secondary school teacher 10 years ago. The boys (from year 7) were reading the Sun on the way to school, in the breaks, and on the way home from school. It almost became a rite of passage throughout Year 7, as young boys started to buy it to show the older ones that they were "cool"... and the page 3 content had NOT passed them by.'
'As a teacher, I see pupils directly affected by the way working in the glamour industry is seen as an option by pupils who see the whole thing as normal. In part, due to its presence on things like newspapers. They have no idea about the reality of the difficulties and abuses present in at least parts of the industry'.
'I'm sick of the girls I teach not believing they can be successful without treating themselves like objects. I'm sick of the boys I teach thinking its normal to behave towards girls like they are a piece of meat'.
'I believe that page three has become the thin end of the wedge of British acceptance of pornography. As a youth worker every male in my teens group has admitted to me that they were masturbating to hardcore pornography by the age of 14 and had initially started by viewing page three'.
There are many more examples but this is just a selection for David Dinsmore to consider to balance his view that the approval of 61% of his readership (from a YouGov survey in October 2012) is reason enough to keep Page 3.
The NAHT press release included this statement:
'Most adults recognise the importance of the watershed and online parental controls for computers and game consoles - most also appreciate the need to restrict the publication of pictures like those seen on Page Three to adult-only publications.'
This statement will not of course be published in the Sun newspaper. So far the Sun has managed to ignore the views of young women (half a million Girl Guides) and working people (1.3 million members of UNISON), as well as over 107,000 signatures from people from all walks of life on the petition. Can they really afford to ignore the views of teachers too, or will Dinsmore make his mark and go down in history as the Sun editor who finally showed some public conscience?