PARENTS

'Sharp Rise' In Children Contacting Childline About Online Porn, NSPCC Warns

More than 100 calls came from children aged 11 and under.

17/10/2016 00:01 | Updated 17 October 2016

There has been a “sharp rise” in the number of children contacting Childline about online porn, the NSPCC has warned.

Childline revealed they’ve seen a 60% increase year on year in the number of counselling sessions children have had after seeing porn online.

The helpline provided 844 counselling sessions about the issue last year, up from 529 sessions in 2014/15.

More than half of the calls were from children aged 12 to 15 years old, but the figure also includes around 130 children aged 11 and under.

“A generation of young people are being exposed to extreme or violent sexual acts online,” said NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless.

“This is robbing children of their innocence and is not the right way for them to learn about sex or relationships. Worryingly, some children think that porn is realistic and want to act out what they’ve seen online.”

FogStock/Jennifer Okamoto via Getty Images

The figures were revealed as part of the NSPCC’s report ‘What Should I Do?’, which looks into children and adults contacting the charity’s helplines about online issues.

Many of the children who contacted Childline said they felt “ashamed”, “guilty” and “addicted” after viewing porn online.

One teenage girl said on a call: “My boyfriend told me he likes watching porn so I said I’d watch it with him. I wish I hadn’t because since then I’ve felt really insecure about my body.

“All the girls in the porn films were so pretty and perfect, so it has left me feeling fat and ugly. I’m really down and depressed knowing that’s what I’m being compared to, but my boyfriend doesn’t seem to understand why I’m upset.”

Another 13-year-old, whose gender is not known, said: “It seems like everyone at school was talking about watching porn, so I looked it up online and found loads of videos.

“It felt good to know what everyone was talking about, but then I started to feel bad and stopped looking at it. After I stopped watching it I kept thinking about it and so started watching it again.

“It makes me feel ashamed, I know I shouldn’t be watching it, but every time I stop watching I start thinking about it and want to watch it again. I don’t want to get in trouble over this, I just want to stop thinking about it all the time.” 

Wanless said now is the time for the Government to take action on the issue of children accessing online porn.

“Children should be protected from adult-only material online just as they are in the offline world,” he said.

“The Digital Economy Bill is a chance to get this right and the Government must not let this opportunity slip through their fingers.

“It is crucial that porn websites that fail to comply with age verification checks can be blocked, so they cannot be accessed by children in the UK.”

In a small-scale study, the NSPCC recently found young people are just as likely to see online porn accidentally as to search for it, and that repeated viewing can lead them to see porn as realistic. 

The NSPCC also revealed in the past six months, web traffic to the parent advice section on protecting young people from the impact of porn has increased by 58%.

Radio 4 presenter Dame Jenni Murray recently brought the issue of kids accessing online porn to public attention by controversially calling for children to be shown pornography in school.

 “Why not show them pornography and teach them how to analyse it?” she asked.

“So then at least those girls know and all those boys know that normal women do not shave, normal women do not make all that noise those women make, they are making all that noise because they need a soundtrack on the film.”

At the time an NSPCC spokesman said: “Jenni Murray is right that children’s access to internet porn is having a damaging impact on their understanding of sex and relationships. But to suggest we scrap sex education lessons and show them porn in school is highly irresponsible and parents will be rightly appalled at her comments.

“The solution is twofold. Firstly children need to be prevented from viewing adult porn.

“Secondly, we all need to understand how viewing porn can have a damaging impact on young people’s lives, and the NSPCC wants porn to be discussed as part of age-appropriate sex and relationships education – in fact we want this to be a compulsory part of the national curriculum rather than leaving it to the discretion of individual schools.”

How to talk to your children about porn - NSPCC advice

“Talking to your child about online porn is something you may find challenging but it’s important to be open and honest,” the NSPCC advise.

“Finding the right time to talk to your child about porn can be tricky but you know your child best and will know when it’s the right time to have these conversations.”

  • Acknowledge that your child may be embarrassed or worried talking to you.

  • Reassure them that it is ok to feel curious about sex and that they can always talk to you.

  • Explain that sex in porn is often different to how people have sex in real life.

  • Talk to them about what makes a positive and healthy relationship. Ask them what they think makes a good relationship. You can prompt them by discussing respect, personal boundaries and consent.

  • Sometimes children and young people feel pressured to watch porn. Explain to your child that whilst some people watch porn online, not everyone does and it’s definitely not something they have to.

For more advice, visit NSPCC.org.uk.

Parents can get online safety advice from the NSPCC’s website or call 0808 800 5002. Children and young people can contact Childline anytime on 0800 1111 or access help online at www.childline.org.uk

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