Toggle Contrast

Childrens Commissioner Report – Evidence on pornography’s influence on harmful sexual behaviour among children

Date: Thursday, 25th May 2023 | Category: General

This paper is the second in a series of reports exploring the impact of pornography on children.

Children’s Commissioner, Rachel de Souza said

“It is my duty to protect children from harm in both the physical and online worlds. As the Online Safety Bill moves through Parliament, I want to use this opportunity to turn the tide on pornography’s harms to children. I am clear that children should not be able to access pornography, and my office’s work in this space continues to demonstrate the harm it can cause to children and young people.

My first report, published in January 2023, A lot of it is actually just abuse”, set out findings from a survey of over a thousand 16-21-year-olds and focus groups with teenagers. It established that the average age at which children first view pornography is now 13 years old. Substantial proportions of young people surveyed who had seen pornography viewed it at a much younger age than 13 – 27% by age 11 and 10% by the age of 9. Young people spoke about the unbearable pressure to view hardcore pornography even if they do not want to, much of which depicts degrading acts and violence against women. Our survey analysis also demonstrated a significant link between an early age of first exposure to pornography and frequency of exposure in later years. The age of first exposure and frequency of exposure were shown to be closely linked to the likelihood of a young person viewing violent content online. Frequent users of pornography were also more likely to have real-life experience of an aggressive or degrading sex act.

For too long we have brushed the issue of pornography under the carpet as awkward, uncomfortable, or too difficult to solve. It is crucial that we don’t shy away from discussing the nature, scale and impacts of online pornography. No child should be able to stumble across pornography online; in a world where pornography is a click away for any child, I am clear that this must change and until then we must grapple with the implications. Sadly, we are hearing from more young people that they are watching pornography and thinking that it is reflective of real life or healthy relationships, which is not the case”

Read the full report here