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Study finds watching porn is ‘normal’ for a shockingly high number of British kids

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

April 2, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- A UK children's help line charity says that an alarming number of children as young as 12 think watching pornography is just a normal part of life, though many of them have seen images that haunt them and some are worried about being addicted to porn.

A survey of about 700 youngsters by ChildLine, a service of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), found that 20 percent of 12 to 13-year-olds said they had seen upsetting or shocking pornography, about 12 percent in the same age group admitted to having participated in making a sexually explicit video, and one in ten said they fear they already have a porn addiction.

"We know from the young people who contact ChildLine that viewing porn is a part of everyday life, and our poll shows that one in five 12 to 13-year-olds thinks that watching porn is normal behaviour," said Peter Liver, a director of ChildLine Services.

"Children of all ages today have easy access to a wide range of pornography," Liver told the BBC. "If we as a society shy away from talking about this issue, we are failing the thousands of young people it is affecting."

Liver stressed that exposure to porn causes children a huge amount of anxiety.

"They tell ChildLine that watching porn is making them feel depressed, giving them body image issues, and making them feel pressured to engage in sexual acts they're not ready for," he said.

"We have to remember that these aren't just shocking numbers – they are real children. These young people are confused, upset, feel like they have to behave or look like porn stars to have relationships and at the worst end are in danger of engaging with harmful sexual behaviour. We cannot ignore the fact there are lots of children who are feeling this way across the UK," said Sue Minto, head of the ChildLine service, in a news release.

"It is impossible to ignore 18,000 visits every month about exposure to porn on our discussion forums from children and young people or that one in ten 12-13 year olds are worried they are addicted to porn," said Minto.

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The founder of ChildLine, Dame Esther Rantzen DBE, told the BBC that the ever-younger age of children calling the helpline about pornography was deeply disturbing.

"We know they are frequently stumbling across porn, often unintentionally, and they are telling us very clearly that this is having a damaging and upsetting effect on them," she said. "Girls in particular have said they feel like they have to look and behave like porn stars to be liked by boys."

A poll of UK teens conducted by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) last year backs up Dame Esther's concerns.

The survey of 18-year-olds found that a large majority of both boys and girls believe that easy access to online porn puts pressure on them to look and act in imitation of what porn portrays.

Moreover, the teens complained that sex education often presents promiscuity as normal, putting additional pressure on them to become sexually active prematurely.

"The images and the type of pornography that young people can access quite readily is much more explicit and more violent than young people have been able to access in the past," said Dalia Ben-Galim, associate director of the IPPR, in a media statement.

The survey noted that 70 percent of teens said that "accessing pornography was seen as typical" while they were at school, while 46 percent said "sending sexual or naked photos or videos is part of everyday life for teenagers," and 60 percent said the pervasiveness of porn had complicated the process of growing up.

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