Access to online porn ‘twisting children’s view of sexual norms’

Guardian (UK) 12 June 2012
Children are being encouraged to take part in sexual activity by exposure to hardcore pornography on their mobile phones, the UK deputy children’s commissioner sayssaid yesterday.

Sue Berelowitz told the home affairs select committee that social networking sites and the use of pornography was one of the key areas she was examining in an investigation of group and gang child sexual exploitation. Her inquiry had already revealed that such exploitation was taking place across the country in urban, rural and metropolitan areas. “It is violent, it is sadistic, it is very, very ugly,” she told MPs on Tuesday.

She said the issue of how social networking, BBM messaging and pornography was being used as part of the exploitation of children and young people – often by teenagers not much older than themselves – was of serious concern.

In one case, boys in a gang “were using BBM messages to summon other girls to them to rape and this went on for several hours,” Berelowitz said. “There are parts of London where children from the age of 11 expect to have to carry out oral sex on a lineup of boys.”

She said she was concerned about the viewing of pornography by young people, which contributed to the problem of child sexual exploitation.

“They are watching it and then they are enacting it. Parents think they know what their child is watching … the reality is children can get anything they like on their mobile phones and they are. This is affecting children’s thresholds of what they think is normal behaviour.