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More children contacting helpline over online pornography

Hundreds of children have called Childline due to concerns over the issue.

Childline: Hundreds of calls were taken (file pic).
Childline: Hundreds of calls were taken (file pic). Chris Radburn/PA Wire/PA Images

An increasing number of children across Scotland are contacting a charity helpline with concerns after seeing online pornography.

The NSPCC-run helpline Childline, which has bases in Glasgow and Aberdeen took 248 calls from young people on the issue in the past two years - 119 in 2014/15 and 129 in 2015/16.

Across the UK, the number of calls by children worried by online pornography has increased by 60% in the same two-year period, from 529 to 844.

More than half of the callers in 2015/16 were aged 12 to 15 but 10% were 11 or younger.

Many of those who contacted the free 24-hour helpline said they felt "ashamed", "guilty" and "addicted" after viewing pornography online and some were being pressured into watching it by other young people.

The charity is calling for tougher laws to ensure pornography websites strictly enforce age verification policies to protect children.

The NSPCC believes current proposals contained in the UK Parliament's Digital Economy Bill for commercial websites to require age verification do not go far enough, and is concerned that fines will be shrugged off by companies who breach the legislation.

Matt Forde, national head of service for NSPCC Scotland said: "A generation of young people are being exposed to extreme or violent sexual acts online.

"This is robbing children of their innocence and is not the right way for them to learn about sex or relationships. 

"Worryingly, some children think that porn is realistic and want to act out what they've seen online.

"Children should be protected from adult-only material online just as they are in the off-line world. It is crucial that porn websites that fail to comply with age verification checks can be blocked, so they cannot be accessed by children in the UK."

Children and young people can contact Childline anytime on 0800 1111 or access help online at www.childline.org.uk.

Parents can get online safety advice from the NSPCC's website or call 0808 800 5002.

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