Refuge Network International

Shocking! One in ten UK children aged 12 and 13 fear they are ‘addicted to porn’

One in ten 12- to 13-year old children fear that they are addicted to pornography and many more think watching porn is a normal part of everyday life, the UK’s leading children’s charity has revealed.

The study conducted by NSPCC ChildLine revealed that one in five children in the same age group had viewed pornographic images that had shocked or upset them, and that one in ten had taken part in sexually explicit videos themselves.

Children said that viewing the explicit content made them feel depressed, affected their body image and made them feel pressured into engaging in sexual acts they were not ready for.

“Girls in particular have said they feel like they have to look and behave like porn stars to be liked by boys,” Dame Esther Rantzen, the founder of ChildLine, told the BBC.

One boy under the age of 15 told ChildLine he regularly viewed “aggressive” pornography. “I didn’t think it was affecting me at first but I’ve started to view girls a bit differently recently and it’s making me worried,” he said.

Campaigners are calling on parents to talk openly to their children about sex, consent and pornography.

“Across society, we need to remove the embarrassment and shame that exists around talking about porn,” said ChildLine director Peter Liver. “If we shy away from talking about this issue, we are failing the thousands of young people it is affecting.”

The charity welcomed recent government plans to teach children as young as 11 about rape and sexual consent in schools, saying teachers, as well as parents, needed to be a part of the conversation about the dangers of pornography.

“We absolutely have to talk to young people about sex, love, respect and consent as soon as we feel they are ready,” said Rantzen. She believes that talking openly to children will “ensure that they gain a proper perspective between real-life relationships and the fantasy world of porn.”

THE WEEK

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