Children as young as six are watching porn, says ISPCC

Children as young as six are watching porn and using sexualised language which they often don’t understand.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said Childline staff were reporting that children are being sexualised at younger ages due to easy access to pornography online.

In its annual report for 2015, the charity said children as young as six are viewing pornographic material which can leave them “feeling confused and scared”. It also pointed out that children are engaging in sexual activity at younger ages and using sexualised language which they often don’t understand.

Texting and sharing nude images of themselves to a boyfriend or girlfriend was also a trend increasingly seen by the ISPCC. Other issues include children talking about hating the way they look and aspiring to look like pop stars and celebrities.

Childline staff also said children are calling with increasingly complex psycho social and mental health issues. “This continues to be an ongoing issue for teenagers in particular, with many contacts relating to self-harm and suicidal ideation. There is a decrease in the contacts in which this is categorised as the primary profile, but it remains a key issue in many contacts,” read the report.

According to the report, Childline answered some 421,672 calls to the phone service and 18,304 conversations to its Childline Online service options. Around 80% of calls were universal in nature with no identified risk or additional needs . However, 6.5% of calls were from children at risk. Of these, a total of 9,428 calls were in relation to abuse and welfare and a further 1,458 calls were in relation to psychosocial mental health.

Katherine Zappone
Katherine Zappone

Speaking at the launch of the report, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone, said the fact Irish children are becoming sexualised at younger and younger ages is “exceptionally worrying”. She said it is “alarming” the service receives so many calls from at-risk children, adding the Government has now made a commitment to end the use of hotels as emergency accommodation for families by next year.

She said extra support workers and new accommodation for vulnerable teenagers will be some of the measures included in the action plan on housing.


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