Campaigns

Relationships and Sex Education must warn children about the harms of online pornography

Parliament petition to be released shortly

The compulsory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) to be introduced in schools and academies from this September must include clear warnings about the harms of online pornography.  It is imperative that both the dangers of consumption, and the harms in production, are covered in an age-appropriate and responsible RSE.

The evidence is now impossible to ignore; A 2019 analysis[i] of 135
peer-reviewed studies found the following negative effects: “regressive attitudes towards women,” “sexual aggression,” “social maladjustment,” “sexual preoccupation,” and “compulsivity.”  Pornography undermines any gains toward equality between the sexes and has a detrimental impact on body image[ii] and mental health[iii].

Furthermore, exposure to pornography is known to be woven into the process of grooming[iv]. Given this it is imperative that any disclosure that a child has seen pornography should be deemed a safeguarding concern.

Last year the British Journal of School Nursing found, “children under 10 now account for 22 percent of online porn consumption under 18[v].”  Consumption of pornography by children is a serious issue, if action is not taken now the impact will be felt across society in the future.

At a time when more attention is being paid to the supply chains that underpin consumer society, the trafficking of and physical harm to performers must also be considered- this will help deter girls in particular from entering the industry.

At present most organisations offering RSE fail to acknowledge the proven harmful effects of pornography. Indeed, some of the most popular RSE guidance used by schools is produced by a professional who has campaigned alongside pornographers against restrictions on the industry[vi].

Adults have a responsibility to set boundaries when it comes to the protection of children. There is no justification for failing to teach children about the harms of pornography.

We urge the Department of Education to immediately end the use of teaching materials which normalise pornography and to ensure that the evidence-based harms of consuming, and producing pornography are a core part of RSE.


[i] L. Monique Ward (2016) Media and Sexualization: State of Empirical Research,1995–2015, The Journal of Sex Research, 53:4-5, 560-577, DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1142496

[ii] American
Psychological Association (2007) Sexualisation of Girls is Linked to Commo Mental Health Problems in Girls and Women with Eating Disorders, Low Self-Esteem and Depression; An APA Task Force Reports.

[iii] Raymond M. Bergner & Ana J. Bridges (2002) The Significance of Heavy Pornography Involvement for Romantic Partners: Research and Clinical Implications, Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 28:3, 193-206, DOI: 10.1080/009262302760328235

[iv] Kimberly Mitchell et al., Trends in Youth Reports of Sexual Solicitations, Harassment and Unwanted Exposure to Pornography on the Internet 120-122, JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT HEALTH 40 (2007), at http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/CV135.pdf (last visited Jul. 20, 2017)
(on file with the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children).

[v] Enson, S (2017) Evaluating the impact of pornography on the lives of children and young people, British Journal of School Nursing VOL. 12, NO. 7

[vi]Press Association, (2014) GMT Face-sitting protest outside parliament against new porn rules, The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2014/dec/12/face-sitting-protest-outside-parliament-against-new-porn-rules
(Accessed 03.07.2020)

Ask your MP to take action against pornography. Copy and paste the letter below into an email. If you don’t know, you can find out who your MP is here. Drop us a line at info@clickoff.org if you need follow-up support or if you want to let us know how your MP responds.

Dear MP/MSP
NAME HERE
,

Action
Against Pornography

The Domestic Abuse Bill has finally progressing through parliament, this represents a radical change in how violence against women and girls is treated and this is to be welcomed. It is now essential that pornography be considered alongside other proposals to further the rights of women and girls.

That the CPS
includes pornography in Violence Against Women and Girls guidance is promising,
and yet the government approach to pornography is disjointed and out-of-step
with the scale of the problem. For example, we know:

  • 10 per cent of 12 to 13-year-olds fear they are addicted to porn
  • Over 4 in 10 UK girls (age 13-17) say they have been coerced into sex acts
  • 88 per cent of scenes in pornography include physical aggression such as gagging, choking and slapping
  • In 94 per cent of those pornographic scenes the aggression was directed towards women

As your constituent I would like to ask that you take action to ensure that tackling pornography, firstly by supporting these simple demands proposed by the campaign group Click Off. These are as follows:

  • To support proposals to introduce age verification to help prevent children from accessing pornographic material online
  • To ensure that the consequences of viewing and producing pornography are covered as part of age-appropriate sex and relationships education in schools and academies
  • To ensure that those wishing to leave the pornography industry are supported to do so
  • To take all available practical action against websites which have been proven to host images of rape or victims of trafficking
  • To ensure that evidence of consumption of pornography is routinely collected from those accused of child abuse of rape and serious sexual offences

These demands
are not controversial, indeed they are based in common sense.  For too long either through embarrassment or
fear of seeming illiberal politicians have let women and girls down by ignoring
the proven links between abuse and pornography.

Pornography hurts individuals, and society. It is time those with the power to make change did so, and as such I ask that you take action against pornography by voicing concerns about the impact of pornography in parliament.

I look forward
to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Letter to BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour

Dear Jane,

Woman’s Hour
– Pornography Segment Response

On Friday’s Woman’s
Hour more time was given to a segment on baking sourdough than discussing the
devastating impact of pornography.  Before the lockdown some 31% of men and 14% of
women who consumed pornography admitted to struggling with addiction, though
this issue was not raised at all. Research suggests that forty percent of girls
between the ages of 13-17 say they have been coerced into sex acts by boys
brought-up on a diet of hardcore, brutal pornography.  Rates of injury due to ‘rough sex’, choking,
BDSM and anal sex have increased, with reports that an unprecedented number of
girls are arriving in doctors’ surgeries with severe internal injuries.

Lengthy statements
from PornHub refuting claims about hosting illegal content were quoted
throughout Friday’s piece and needlessly repeated. Balance is important, but
when discussing an issue which is essentially one of violence against women it
is fair to ask why it was felt appropriate to give so much air time to PornHub,
a company which has been proven to host images of rape, torture, child abuse
and trafficking victims.  At present a
petition started by campaigner Laila Mickelwait is aiming to close PornHub
and hold the executives to account for aiding trafficking, it has gained over
800,000 signatures.

A generation of
adolescents, cut-off from the opportunity to pass notes to school crushes, will
now come of age by exploring their sexuality online. What they will find is
abuse, not sex. And yet Friday’s Woman’s Hour segment on pornography was a
missed opportunity.  The focus on
so-called ‘ethical pornography’ was inappropriate and misleading; there are 2450 million results for ‘teen porn’, 238
times as many as there are for ‘ethical porn.’ Essentially, the concept of ‘ethical
porn’ is a fig-leaf for the brutal, misogynist and racist abuse that
constitutes mainstream pornography.

Every day Click
Off are contacted by women sharing their experience of abuse at the hands of
partners addicted to pornography, the BBC owes it to such women to stand-up against
the normalisation of pornography.

We look forward
to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Action!

Dear MP/MSP
NAME HERE
,

Action
Against Pornography

The Domestic
Abuse Bill currently progressing through parliament represents a radical change
in how violence against women and girls is treated and this is to be welcomed.
With International Women’s Day on the horizon it seems timely to ask that action
against pornography be considered alongside other proposals to further the
rights of women and girls.

That the CPS
includes pornography in Violence Against Women and Girls guidance is promising,
and yet the government approach to pornography is disjointed and out-of-step
with the scale of the problem. For example, we know:

  • 10 per cent of 12 to 13-year-olds fear they are addicted to porn
  • Over 4 in 10 UK girls (age 13-17) say they have been coerced into sex acts
  • 88 per cent of scenes in pornography include physical aggression such as gagging, choking and slapping
  • In 94 per cent of those pornographic scenes the aggression was directed towards women

As your constituent I would like to ask that you take action to ensure that tackling pornography, firstly by supporting these simple demands proposed by the campaign group Click Off. These are as follows:

  • To support proposals to introduce age verification to help prevent children from accessing pornographic material online
  • To ensure that the consequences of viewing and producing pornography are covered as part of age-appropriate sex and relationships education in schools and academies
  • To ensure that those wishing to leave the pornography industry are supported to do so
  • To take all available practical action against websites which have been proven to host images of rape or victims of trafficking
  • To ensure that evidence of consumption of pornography is routinely collected from those accused of child abuse of rape and serious sexual offences

These demands
are not controversial, indeed they are based in common sense.  For too long either through embarrassment or
fear of seeming illiberal politicians have let women and girls down by ignoring
the proven links between abuse and pornography.

Pornography hurts individuals, and society. It is time those with the power to make change did so, and as such I ask that you take action against pornography by voicing concerns about the impact of pornography in parliament.

I look forward
to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Update – Victory for Click Off and the Safe Schools Alliance!

Following our petition Warwickshire County Council have withdrawn their ‘Respect Yourself’ guidance. Click Off are now corresponding with Chief Executive, Monica Fogarty in the hope that WCC reconsider their approach to sex and relationships education.

Our email exchange can be read here:

Email 1 & email 2 – October. Response from WCC. Email 3

NSPCC Scandal

Report from journalist Sonia Poulton on a scandal at the NSPCC featuring Click Off.

CPS Letter

Update – Click Off to feed-into CPS research

Click Off received a response to the letter below on 25th October 2019. Click Off are now collating evidence and consulting about how best to proceed.

 

With reference to VAWG Report

Click Off are an organisation
committed to raising awareness about the harms of pornography.  We urge
the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider the role of pornography when
prosecuting cases of violence against women and girls.

The announcement of a new CPS project
to ‘understand changing sexual behaviours and associated myths and stereotypes’
is warmly welcomed by Click Off, as is the commitment from Director of Public
Prosecutions Max Hill QC to have a ‘frank and full conversation about the
reasons for the fall in referrals.’  Click Off would like to be part of
this conversation, because we know that pornography is changing both personal
attitudes towards violence against women and girls and the wider context in
which justice is pursued. 

The reported drop in both referrals
from the police and convictions needs to be seen in a wider context. 
Our legislature is struggling to keep up with the pace of technological
change and the new challenges of a society saturated with images that
normalise violent sexual abuse of women and girls. 

There is a growing body of research which suggests that those who watch pornography are more susceptible to rape myths, and there is compelling evidence that pornography use is a factor in sexual offending.  The recent case of Jamel Nwokoye underscores this point, following his conviction for rape which appeared to simulate the pornography he’d been watching, the Metropolitan Police called for action to be taken on ‘rape porn.’ 

Many victims of sexual offences find that courtrooms are hostile environments.  Challenging the impact of pornography on all of those involved in the process of administering justice would enhance confidence in the courts, whilst sending out a clear social message that pornography is both a threat to the safety of women and girls and a barrier to equality between the sexes.

We look forward to your response.