Friday, 24 May 2013

Childhood exposure to pornography: A report from FPS Middlesex University and partners

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner calls for urgent action to protect children from exposure to pornography based on Rapid Evidence Assessment conducted by Forensic Psychological Services at Middlesex University in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, Canterbury Christchurch University and University of Kent.

The Office of the Children's Commissioner for England is calling for urgent action to develop children’s resilience to pornography following a research report it commissioned which found that:

  • a significant number of children access pornography;
  • pornography influences their attitudes towards relationships and sex;
  • pornography is linked to risky behaviour such as having sex at a younger age;
  • and there is a correlation between holding violent attitudes and accessing more violent media.

"Basically... porn is everywhere" - A Rapid Evidence Assessment on the Effects that Access and Exposure to Pornography has on Children and Young People, a report published today, also found that:

  • Children and young people’s exposure and access to pornography occurs both on and offline but in recent years the most common method of access is via internet enabled technology
  • Exposure and access to pornography increases with age
  • Accidental exposure to pornography is more prevalent than deliberate access
  • There are gender differences in exposure and access to pornography with boys more likely to be exposed to and deliberately access, seek or use pornography than girls.

It concludes that there are still many unanswered questions about the effect exposure to pornography has on children: a situation the Office of the Children’s Commissioner considers requires urgent action in an age where extreme violent and sadistic imagery are two clicks away.

The report is based on a review of published evidence led by Middlesex University in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, Canterbury Christchurch University and University of Kent, supplemented by a focus group of young people. The researchers identified 41,000 items of academic literature about pornography undertaking an in-depth analysis of 276 to draw its conclusions.

The report welcomes the work being done by Claire Perry, MP on internet controls, in her role as advisor to the Prime Minister. It makes a series of recommendations in addition to carrying out further research.

Dr Miranda Horvath, Senior Lecturer, Middlesex University 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.

A BBC News report can be found here.

Dr Miranda Horvath
Deputy Director of Forensic Psychological Services

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