Parents have been told by headteachers that they will be reported to police and social services for neglect if they allow their children to play over 18 computer games, according to the Sunday Times.

The newspaper reported (£) that a warning was issued by primary and secondary schools who found children had been watching or playing games like Call of Duty and Gears of War or Grand Theft Auto.

The group wrote to parents, saying sexual content and violence and sexual content in the games are inappropriate and could lead to “early sexualised behaviour” and leave children “vulnerable to grooming for sexual exploitation or extreme violence”.

It goes on to say: “

If your child is allowed to have inappropriate access to any game, or associated product, that is designated 18+ we are advised to contact the police and children’s social care as this is deemed neglectful.”

Letter to parents

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister said social workers, councillors and teachers could be jailed for up to five years if they failed to speak up when they suspected or re­ceived allegations that children were being ill-treated, abused or wilfully neglected.

“We are trying to help parents to keep their children as safe as possible in this digital era. It is so easy for children to end up in the wrong place and parents find it helpful to have some very clear guidelines.”

Mary Hennessy Jones, the head who drafted the letter

Nantwich Education Partnership, made up of 16 schools in Cheshire, sent the letter. Safeguarding guidance from the local authority told schools that if the behaviour of a pupil, or concerns about them, arouse suspicion the school should consult the children's service “if in any doubt”.

Parents’ groups have responded by saying reporting families for allowing children to play unsuitable computer games was a step too far.