One in ten 12 to 13-year-olds worry they are addicted to porn

One in five 12 to 13-year-olds thinks that watching porn is normal behaviour, ChildLine has found.

Shocking new figures reveal that one in ten 12 to 13-year-olds believe they may be addicted to pornography, and 12 per cent admit to having made or taken part in a sexually explicit video.

Results of a survey released today by the NSPCC's ChildLine show that a fifth of 700 12-13-year olds polled also said they had been exposed to pornographic images that they found shocking or upsetting.

"Young people are turning to the internet to learn about sex and relationships. We know that 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," said Dame Esther Rantzen, the founder of ChildLine.

''Girls in particular have said they feel like they have to look and behave like porn stars to be liked by boys.

''We absolutely have to talk to young people about sex, love, respect and consent as soon as we feel they are ready, to ensure that they gain a proper perspective between real life relationships and the fantasy world of porn.''

Director of ChildLine, Peter Liver, also stressed the importance of talking openly about pornography with young people. He said we risk failing thousands of children, for whom watching porn is "part of everyday life", if we don't.

"Our poll shows that one in five 12 to 13-year-olds thinks that watching porn is normal behaviour," he said.

"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...Across society, we need to remove the embarrassment and shame that exists around talking about porn."

"To help young people understand how to deal with the reality of our digital world we have to try and remove the embarrassment and shame that exists around talking about porn in their lives," Head of ChildLine service, Sue Minto, added.

The organisation has launched a new campaign, FAPZ (the Fight Against Porn Zombies), to help young people understand the dangers of online porn. "We have to remember that these aren't just shocking numbers – they are real children," Minto said of the latest research

Director of Romance Academy, Jason Royce, told Christian Today that ChildLine's findings support his own experience of working with young people.

"I was in a room with 83 boys recently during one of our lessons about the effects of pornography, I gave them the chance to comment on the effect it has on young people; I faced a wall of silence. I waited it out until eventually one of the boys stood up and said 'of course we're watching porn, every boy here has seen it...we talk about it all of the time, but this is the first time an adult has ever talked to us about it'. We got the same message from the girls who were in a session next door."

Many young people have told him they first saw porn when they were as young as eight years old. "When this happens they've seen with their eyes more than they've ever experienced, at an age when their brains can't process the impact and they don't have the values base to bring context. The stats say one in three 10-year-olds have seen porn, our anecdotal evidence shows that by 14 the percentage will be in excess of 90 per cent, for boys and girls.

"Some people say we should stay silent. I think they're wrong," he concluded.

"I think we should teach young people about healthy relationships and sex, in school, at home, and in our communities and churches. Then we should support and cheer on the adults who try to model those healthy relationships. I don't want any of the young people I work with to learn about sex from pornography, but many do. Let's get in there first. it's time for the Church to rediscover its prophetic voice and lead the conversation."

Lifestyle