Parents have criticised dancing lessons for seven-year-olds after it emerged they were being taught how to pole dance.
The Sun reports that national parenting organisation Mumsnet hit out at the classes and called for them to be cancelled immediately, saying they could leave children “vulnerable to exploitation”.
Founder Siobhan Freegard said: “Pole dancing can be a brilliant and fun way for an adult to keep fit. But it’s not something we should be encouraging kids to do.
“Young children don’t understand the sexual overtones of the moves, and copying them could leave them very vulnerable to exploitation.
“Parents are rightly upset — these types of displays need to be ditched right now. If it’s exercise you’re after, let kids run on the playground or sports field.”
But class organiser Lauren Kenealy, who teaches girls to pole dance at LaKiTa Dance Academy in Warrington, Cheshire, defended the classes.
“It is just like gymnastics but using a different piece of apparatus. It’s got nothing to do with being sexual.”
She added: “Originally I thought the same — it’s like lap dancing, sexy. But it wasn’t what I thought it would be.
“Adults see pole dancing as being in strip clubs, and if you’ve never been to a class that’s the only knowledge you have.
“To say it’s sexualisation of children — that’s totally not true. The kids just want to be monkeys.”
Last week, it was reported that children as young as four took part in a pole dancing display at their school fete.
The Daily Mail said that parents were shocked at the display, which also featured adult women in hot pants and crop tops hanging upside down with their legs split.
One parent said: “A lot of people were upset about it. They were performing a routine to music in inappropriate clothing and they had children doing it and I just thought, “this is so wrong””.