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Doctors Warn Cornish Parents Over Increase in Children Seeing Internet Porn

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6:01am 19th December 2012

Pirate FM has been told more and more Cornish children are learning about the birds and the bees from internet porn.

Experts at Cornwall's biggest hospital say they are dealing with some as young as eleven.

Treliske Consultant Doctor Kathyrn Ecclestone fears some mums and dads are burying their heads in the sand: "I think the first thing to think about is if you have young children in the house who can access your computer is whether you can put some sort of filter on it to stop them accessing sites you don't want them to be seeing. The other thing we would ask is to talk to them about it.

"It's very controversial, a very difficult area to discuss but a lot of the young people I see say they would go and talk to their parents if they thought they wouldn't be judged or if their mum wouldn't shout at them, or if they thought they could sit down and have that conversation unfortunately at an even younger age than they think they need to."

"While parents may not like to think their children are sexually active, it is worth noting that the average age of first pornography viewing is now 10 in the UK, so youngsters may not be active themselves but they are interested in learning more."

Even in Cornwall, staff at the Royal Cornwall's Sexual Health Hub say they are now seeing evidence of the impact of porn viewing on those using its services. Dr Eccleston said: "It would appear that a number of teenagers, particularly boys, are now using pornography as a guide to sex, believing it to show normal practice."

During a recent Commons debate on the sexual exploitation of children Ann Coffey, the chairman of the all party parliamentary group on runaway children warned: "There is a problem that teenage boys are accessing adult websites which gives them a distorted attitude."

Ms Coffey said that with often explicit pornography available to boys over the internet, there was growing evidence of girls at school experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of their peers.

Ms Coffey said: "To speak out, first children need to feel confident that what is happening to them is wrong and that is why sex and relationship education in schools is so important. They need to know, indeed they are entitled to know, about issues such as sexual consent, what sexual coercion and exploitation is and how to shape healthy relationships and respect for each other as well as alerting them to the signs that they are being sexually groomed. This will give them the confidence to reject inappropriate relationships."

Dr Eccleston agreed. She said: "With some of those who come to us, sometimes it's as basic as pointing out that males and females are different. I always try to remind the youngsters that sex should be enjoyable, consensual and safe. Men and women are very different and can have different sexual needs. Many don't seem to realise there are differences."

Three Things to Keep Your Family Safer

  • If you have younger children in the house consider using filtering software on the family computer, and keeping it away from the bedroom in an area that people often pass through. Similar software exists for smartphones.
  • Talk to your children about their concerns and be prepared to answer questions as openly and honestly as possible.
  • Encourage them to share with you anything that is making them feel uncomfortable, whether online or in real life.
6:01am 19th December 2012

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