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Education in the media: 17 January 2017

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Today’s news review takes a look at coverage of a campaign calling for schools to do more to promote positive body image.

Body image

Today (Tuesday, 17 January) the YMCA and Dove launched a campaign aiming to promote positive body image among young people. The organisations carried out a survey of secondary school children that found over half of pupils worry about how they look. The campaign, Be Real, calls on schools to play a key role in combatting body anxiety and claims young people feel increasing pressure because of social media.

The story has been covered by  BBC Online, Huffington Post and Good Morning Britain. The BBC’s copy includes comments from a deputy headteacher who says the toolkit will be useful for teachers to use the accurate language and feel confident teaching these lessons.

The government’s extensive work on body image has, over the past six years, included: working with industry partners to support the development and adoption of good practice; helping develop young people’s resilience and media literacy through the provision of resources for schools and parents; and contributing to informed public debate through publishing research and providing resources to the National Citizen Service.

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has also funded Media Smart, the education charity at the Advertising Association, to update their media literacy resource for parents and teachers of Key Stage 2 pupils. The resource supports young people to be more informed and resilient consumers of media content. This has been downloaded over 700 times since July.

The PHSE programme of study also gives schools the opportunity to discuss body image in the classroom and the Prime Minister has recently announced a comprehensive package of reforms to improve mental health support at every stage of a person’s life – with an emphasis on early intervention for children and young people.

A Government spokesperson said:

We live in a world where young people experience a daily onslaught of messages – from TV, social media, music and celebrity culture – about who they should be and in particular what they should look like. These messages can place overwhelming pressure on children and young people during their formative years.


We can help young adults to be more resilient to these pressures by helping them understand and critique them. That’s why we have developed an extensive programme around body image over the last six years, including resources that help teachers and parents talk about body image and gender stereotypes in relation to the adverts we see every day.

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