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Sharp rise in children contacting Childline about online porn

18th October 2016

Childline has seen a 60% year on year increase in counselling sessions with children left worried after seeing porn online.

The NSPCC’s round-the-clock helpline provided 844 counselling sessions about the issue to children from across the UK last year, up from 529 sessions in 2014/15.

For the second year running more than half of contacts were from children aged 12 to 15 years old, but worryingly they included around 130 children aged 11 and under.

The figures are revealed as the NSPCC publishes a new report What Should I Do?, about 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 and some were being pressured into watching it by other young people.

One teenage girl said: “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’s 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.”

Recent research by the NSPCC found that young people are as likely to see online porn accidentally as search for it, and that repeated viewing can lead them to see porn as realistic.

The NSPCC believes that current proposals for commercial porn websites to require age verification, currently being debated in the Digital Economy Bill, do not go far enough and the charity is concerned that fines will be shrugged off by companies who breach the legislation.4

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “A generation of young people are being exposed to extreme or violent sexual acts online. 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.
 
“Children should be protected from adult-only material online just as they are in the off-line world. The Digital Economy Bill is a chance to get this right and 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 the past six months web traffic to the NSPCC’s parent advice on protecting young people from the impact of porn has increased by 58%. 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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