Evidence on pornography’s influence on harmful sexual behaviour among children

The Children’s Commissioner for England has published a report on the influence of pornography on harmful sexual behaviour among children.

This paper from the Children’s Commissioner for England is the second in a series of reports exploring the impact of pornography on children.

The first report, published in January 2023, “A lot of it is actually just abuse, set out findings from a survey of over a thousand 16-21-year-olds and focus groups with teenagers. It established that the average age at which children first view pornography is now 13 years old. Substantial proportions of young people surveyed who had seen pornography viewed it at a much younger age than 13 – 27% by age 11 and 10% by the age of 9.

This new analysis, together with other evidence in this report, presents a compelling case. This report contributes to the literature on pornography’s role in shaping and fuelling violence against women and girls. The risk factors behind harmful sexual behaviour and children abusing other children are complex, with pornography being one possible factor among others. Much of the abuse is taking forms which are depicted in pornography.

This report is focused on the harms that children face from accessing violent pornography, and how that might influence their own harmful sexual behaviour.