31/03/2015 20:22 BST | Updated 31/05/2015 06:59 BST

We Cannot Fail Children By Shying Away From Talking About Porn

For over 29 years we at ChildLine have strived to address the issues that young people tell us are affecting them - cyber bullying, self-harm and suicidal thoughts are just a few of the subjects we have helped children to deal with and to overcome.

As a charity that fights for every childhood we will always listen to what young people are telling us - which is why we have launched the ChildLine FAPZ campaign (the Fight Against Porn Zombies).

It is impossible to ignore 18,000 visits every month about exposure to porn on our discussion forums from children and young people or that one in ten 12-13 year olds are worried they are addicted to porn.

We have to remember that these aren't just shocking numbers - they are real children. These young people are confused, upset, feel like they have to behave or look like porn stars to have relationships and at the worst end are in danger of engaging with harmful sexual behaviour. We cannot ignore the fact there are lots of children who are feeling this way across the UK.

We know porn can be a difficult subject to talk about but young children have easy access to it - long gone are the days when this material was confined to the top-shelf of a newsagents. Children who are trying to learn about sex and relationships can access unlimited porn online, for free, 24 hours a day. To help young people understand how to deal with the reality of our digital world we have to try and remove the embarrassment and shame that exists around talking about porn in their lives.

If we don't do this how will we better help and inform the one in five 12-13 year-olds who think that watching porn is normal behaviour? Many young people are unsure of the line between fantasy and reality and we need to help them understand about the potentially harmful implications of excessive exposure to porn.

That's why young people have helped us to create this new campaign. They have played an integral part in shaping it and have been central to the whole development. If we are really going to address the issues facing young people then we need to listen to them and give them a voice. That's crucial if we are going to truly create something that resonates and is relevant to young people.

Our new animations are used as a hook to direct young people to a range of information and advice on the ChildLine website, helping them understand the implications associated with replicating porn influenced behaviour in real life situations and protect them from putting themselves in potentially harmful situations. Also since we launched our campaign on 13 March our videos have attracted more than 140,000 viewers, with at least 10% of them seeking further information about pornography from the ChildLine website.

Every young person deserves a happy and healthy childhood, and as a society we need to do everything we can to ensure they are equipped to make informed choices in a fast evolving world, which is why I am proud of our bold campaign.

I would encourage any young person who has a question or concern to visit our new campaign at www.childline.org.uk/FAPZ or to contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or online www.childline.org.uk - our counsellors are here 24/7 to offer free, confidential support and advice.