Children in reception class, who are aged just four and five, are increasingly using bad language, talking back to staff and throwing tantrums when they don't get their own way – re-enacting scenes they have seen on screen, according to members
of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.
Even programmes aimed at improving children's behaviour, such as Supernanny, are giving pupils ideas about how to create havoc in the classroom.
In a motion at the union's annual conference next month, teachers will vote to lobby broadcasters to cut swearing, routine violence, inappropriate name-calling and unruly behaviour from programmes which are likely to be seen by children.
Television executives are to be urged by schoolteachers to tone down the language and behaviour shown in programmes because pupils are copying what they see and hear in the classroom.
A survey of almost 800 teachers found that the rudest behaviour in the classroom was caused by pupils copying Big Brother and Little Britain .
Two-thirds of teachers said they believed Big Brother had led to bad or inappropriate behaviour in their school – while 61% cited Little Britain .
Other offenders include Waterloo Road – the BBC1 drama about a comprehensive school – which is said to encourage pupils to wear their uniforms in a sloppy fashion and The Catherine Tate Show which has prompted pupils to reply to
teachers with the Lauren Cooper catchphrases Whatev-ah! and Am I Bovvered?
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which conducted the survey, said: School staff believe that television has an even greater influence on the behaviour of young people than computer and video games.
More and more pupils believe the violence depicted on television and computer games is cool, heroic and something they want to emulate. It is not just aggressive behaviour – our members face swearing, inappropriate language and general rudeness
on a daily basis, which is frequently picked up from the TV programmes pupils are watching.
The survey revealed that 88% of teachers believed the level of general rudeness in the classroom had increased as a result of the TV programmes children were watching.
Three out of four believed that TV programmes should be given an age classification in the same way as films at the cinema.
Comment: TV is turning our children into little yobs
Anne Diamond in the Daily Mail is happy to concur and blame pretty much all of the teachers woes on TV:
Kids soak up television faster than kitchen paper absorbs household spills. Any parent knows it, and has seen it in children's behaviour since the days of Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which turned my boys
into hyperactive aliens until I carefully limited their TV time and steered them back towards Postman Pat.
Now, however, the nation's teachers are reporting that too much television is making life unbearable at school - transforming our little Siennas, Chloes, Joshuas and Mohammeds into a generation of foul-mouthed Vicky Pollards and Gordon Ramsays.
I know they're right - because I have heard it, too. Kids do copy swearing from TV and it's not the same sort of swearing you used to overhear several years ago from the kids at the corner shop or the bus stop, who'd let a fourletter word slip
out, have a giggle and then instinctively hush up because adults were within earshot.
A bad influence? Lippy schoolgirl Lauren from the Catherine Tate Show
Nowadays, the swearing, aggressive, defiant behaviour is right in your face. They're proud of it. It defines them. After all, it's on the telly, isn't it?