The Daily Mail is reporting on the survey which is considered to be the most extensive study of the perils of pornography in secondary schools. It was commissioned by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and conducted by Middlesex University.
Researchers surveyed 1,001 children via interviews, questionnaires and focus groups and received startling information about the extent of the damage being done to youngsters by easy access to pornography.
For example, 94 percent of 14 year-olds said they had looked at X-rated films or photos. More than a quarter of children aged 11 or 12 had looked at X-rated content.
The survey found that youngsters were more likely to find the material accidentally (28%) than to seek it out (19%). About a fifth of the children said they felt repulsed or anxious by the images while a similar proportion admitted that they view it regularly.
Four percent of youngsters who viewed explicit images admitted to doing so every day, which raises the fear that children are becoming more and more desensitized to the impact of pornography.
Even more worrying was the discovery that more than half (53%) of 11 to 16 year-old boys said they believe the pornography they are seeing on-screen is a “realistic” depiction of sex, which has prompted them to degrade and be violent toward their girlfriends. Thirty-nine percent of 13 to 14 year olds and one in five children aged 11-12 say they want to copy the sexual acts they see on-screen.
And they are!
As one 13 year-old boy said, “One of my friends has started treating women like he sees on the videos – not major, just a slap here or there.”
One 13 year-old girl expressed her concern about these worrying trends. “It can make a boy not look for love, just for sex, and it can pressure us girls to act and look and behave in a certain way before we might be ready for it.”
The NSPCC agrees and says: “A generation of children are in danger of being stripped of their childhoods at a young age by stumbling across extreme and violent porn online. Frighteningly, some children are growing up believing that they should emulate the behaviour they see in porn, which can have a damaging effect on their relationships.”
What can be done about it? The Daily Mail has campaigned for automatic blocks on online porn to protect children with only those over 18 being allowed to view adult sites.
In addition, the government recently announced that it would require pornographic sites to verify users are over 18 in the Digital Economy Bill.
Vigilance on the part of parents remains the best security measure that can be taken to insure that children are not stumbling upon these sites either by accident or intentionally.