Report finds link between porn and values of young people

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A new report by  the commissioner's office found that children who watch pornography are more likely to develop sexually risky behaviour and become sexually active at a younger age.

It called for urgent action to "develop children's resilience to pornography" after discovering that a significant number have access to sexually explicit images. It also called on the Department for Education to ensure all schools delivered effective relationship and sex education, including how to use the internet safely.

The report, based on a review of academic research, also found that pornography could influence children's sexual attitudes, foster a negative attitude towards relationships and lead them to engage in risky behaviours such as unprotected anal sex, sex at a younger age and the use of alcohol and drugs during sex.

Commissioner, Maggie Atkinson, said: "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."

Sue Berelowitz, the deputy children's commissioner, said: "As part of our inquiry into the sexual exploitation of children in gangs and groups we have seen that young perpetrators of sexual abuse describe their activity as 'like having been in a porn film'. This report provides the evidence to support there being a high correlation between exposure to pornography and it influencing children's behaviour and attitudes."

The report found that a significant proportion of children and young people are exposed
to or access pornography; children and young people’s exposure and access to pornography
occur both online and offline; exposure and access to pornography appear to increase with age; there are gender differences in exposure and access to pornography; and that access and exposure to pornography affect children and young people’s sexual beliefs.

Amongst the report recommends it says that the Department for Education should ensure that all schools understand the importance of, and deliver, effective relationship and sex education which must include safe use of the internet, and that should ensure curriculum content on relationships and sex
education covers access and exposure to pornography.

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

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