Children raised 'on diet of porn' more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour, warns report

 

Children who access pornography are more likely to have sex at a younger age and engage in “risky behaviours”, a report by the Office of the Children's Commissioner has warned.

The office has called for urgent action to "develop children's resilience to pornography" after discovering that a "significant" number of them have access to sexually explicit images.

The Department for Education must ensure all schools deliver effective relationship and sex education, which should include safe use of the internet, the office recommended.

The report, commissioned by the office as part of its national inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs, is based on a review of academic research including 41,000 items of literature.

Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner for England, said: "We are living at a time when violent and sadistic imagery is readily available to very young children, even if they do not go searching for it, their friends may show it to them or they may stumble on it while using the internet."

She added: "For years we have applied age restrictions to films at the cinema but now we are permitting access to far more troubling imagery via the internet. It is a risky experiment to allow a generation of young people to be raised on a diet of pornography."

The report found that access to porn can lead to young people engaging in "risky behaviours" such as sex at a younger age, unprotected anal sex and the use of drugs and alcohol during sex.

It also said that access to porn can influence children's sexual beliefs, developing unrealistic attitudes about sex, bad attitudes towards relationships and beliefs that women are sex objects.

A "significant proportion" of children are exposed to or access pornography, which can occur both online and offline, the report said.

The Children's Commissioner found that exposure to porn increases with age, there is greater risk of exposure with increasing age. However, there were conflicting findings in relation to the average age of first exposure, ranging from 10 to 17 years old.

In its recommendations, the report called on the Department for Education (DfE) to ensure all schools provide relationship and sex education.

The curriculum should cover access and exposure to porn and sexual practices that are relevant to young people's lives and experiences.

In another recommendation, the report concluded that the DfE should rename 'sex and relationships education' (SRE) to 'relationships and sex education' (RSE).

The recommendations echo calls made by the End Violence Against Women coalition to make sex and relationships education compulsory in secondary schools.

A survey conducted by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) recently found that many parents believe schools should teach children about the dangers of pornography as soon as they are old enough to use the internet.

The poll reveals that the majority of parents do not want it to be left to them alone to educate their youngsters about the controversial issue, and a large proportion think that pupils as young as five or six should be given lessons on the subject.

Dr Miranda Horvath, senior lecturer, Middlesex University, which led the review of academic evidence, said: "It is clear that children and young people want and need safe spaces in which they can ask questions about, and discuss their experiences with pornography.

"The onus must be on adults to provide them with evidence-based education and support and help them to develop healthy, not harmful relationships with one another.

"When pornography is discussed, it is often between groups of people with polarised moral views on the subject. Rather than adopting a particular ideological stance, this report uses evidence-based research to draw its conclusions and further the debate."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HSE Manger - Solar

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Powertrain Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I hope you are well. My client based in ...

Java Developer - Banking - London - Up to £560/day

£500 - £560 per day: Orgtel: Java Developer FX - Banking - London - Up to £560...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried