UK sounds alarm over child exposure to violent porn


The report from Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza found 10% of children had seen pornography by the age of nine and 79% had seen violent pornography ‘depicting coercive, degrading or pain-inducing sex acts’ by the age of 18. — Dreamstime/TNS

LONDON: A UK government-sponsored report on Jan 31 sounded the alarm over children viewing violent pornography, warning that as a result they may expect sex to include acts such as strangulation.

The report from Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza found 10% of children had seen pornography by the age of nine and 79% had seen violent pornography “depicting coercive, degrading or pain-inducing sex acts” by the age of 18.

The survey was carried out late last year among 1,014 people aged from 16 to 21 living in England.

Forty-seven percent said girls “expect” sex to include physical aggression such as airway restriction and slapping, and 42% said girls “enjoy” this. Respondents were more likely to think girls enjoy such acts than boys do.

Among the respondents aged over 18, 47% said they had experienced a violent sexual act.

“A lot of online pornography can be unrealistic and some of it is rape content, so young people may think this is okay and realistic,” an 18-year-old girl was quoted as saying.

The report stresses that the content children can view now bears no comparison to what their parents’ generation could access only in top-shelf magazines.

It argues that among young people, “pornography plays a key role in normalising and condoning sexual violence against women”.

The report is released as lawmakers consider an Online Safety Bill to introduce stricter age controls to stop under-18s seeing adult content.

Moral compass?

The children’s commissioner backs the legislation, while saying it “will not be a ‘silver bullet’”. She lambasted websites for not introducing such controls earlier.

“Parents really can’t stop the tide of this stuff on social media. It’s the tech firms that need to step up and do this,” de Souza told the BBC.

“The online safety bill will force them to do it. But frankly, these are multi-billion pound companies, they should be having a moral compass and doing this now and they perfectly well can.”

The report found children were most likely to access porn on mainstream social media rather than dedicated adult porn sites.

Twitter was the most common source, with 41% saying they had seen it on the site, whose sign-up age is 13. Instagram and Snapchat were also cited.

Parents were “often unaware that violent and degrading content can be found so quickly and easily on the Internet”.

The report focused on the effects of children viewing pornography.

Early exposure, aged 11 or younger, makes boys more likely to become frequent viewers.

And it often “significantly increased the likelihood of viewing sexually violent content” later. – AFP

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