POLE dancing classes are being offered for children as young as seven in Bolton.

Photographs of some of the youngsters taking part in the classes have also been posted on a public page on the social networking website Facebook. Parents of the children who attend the classes, along with the teachers, have said they are fun, good exercise and do not teach them anything erotic.

But others have criticised the lessons, saying they are inappropriate for children of such a young age and are concerned the photographs are online.

The photographs show the young girls wearing shorts or leggings and crop tops or vests.

In some of the pictures, they are upside down on the poles. JLN Pole Fitness, run by Jess Leanne Norris, is offering the classes for children.

Miss Norris, aged 18, set up the business when she was aged 15 after teaching herself the skill. She is a UK champion and is representing the UK in America next month.

Miss Norris said: “I have worked tirelessly to get a fantastic reputation for JLN Pole Fitness and I teach all ages. I started at aged 14 and it has changed my life for the better.

“What I teach is pole fitness, nothing else. There is nothing at all rude going on at JLN. I have had nothing but support, it is an art.

“We only put pictures on Facebook with parents’ consent.

It is nothing inappropriate.”

Parent Kate Eaton, aged 33, of Harwood, takes her daughter, Jen, to the classes, which cost £10 each.

She said: “Jen had her seventh birthday party there with her friends.

“I do not have a problem with it at all. It is nothing to do with lap dancing, it is gymnastics. It is not in the slightest bit sexual.

“If she was doing gymnastics in a leotard or at a swimming gala in a costume, anyone could be watching and people don’t complain about that.”

Northern Pole Divas, in Horwich, is also offering pole dancing for children aged 14 and older.

Owner Carren Bell said: “Parents come and sign consent forms. It is not a pole dancing class, it is a pole exercise class.”

But some parents and dance teachers feel the classes are “inappropriate”.

A parent, who asked not to be named, said: “They advertise as being aerobics/ gymnastics with a pole but if you see the pictures, this is not the case.”

A dance teacher, who also asked not to be named, added: “I think there has got to be a line that should not be crossed.”

Cllr Nick Peel, Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “It is a dangerous world on the internet when it comes to children and people need to be aware of the situation they can be putting children into.”