Calls for 'robust' age checks on porn websites to protect children

By Christian Today |
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Christian campaigners are calling for tough restrictions on online pornography after new figures released this week revealed a rise in sexual offences committed by children. 

According to latest figures from the National Police Chiefs Council, a total of 106,984 child sexual abuse offences were reported in 2022, an increase of 7.6% on the previous year. 

In 52% of these cases, the alleged offender was a child aged 10 to 17, with 14 being the most common age.

The report said that the increasing prevalence of mobile phone ownership and access to hardcore pornography were behind the disturbing trend. 

Christian campaign group CARE called the figures "alarming" and said they demonstrated the need to introduce "robust" age verification on pornography websites. 

Tim Cairns, an online safety expert at CARE, which has spent years campaigning for age verification, said: "The disturbing number of children and teenagers committing sexual offences points to the need to restrict access to pornography.

"We know that pornography is a leading factor in sexual crime. Children reenact what they see online.

"Most younger children encounter porn by accident. Robust age verification measures will help prevent the youngest and most vulnerable children being exposed to content that is damaging them and inspiring abuse."

Ofcom, the communications regulator, has been tasked with drafting new guidance that will force porn websites to check the age of users. The regulator is currently consulting on guidance for "highly effective age checks to stop children accessing online porn services".

CARE said it was "vital" that it gets the guidance right. 

"It is vital that Ofcom gets age verification, and other long overdue safety measures outlined in the Online Safety Act, right. We will be examining the regulator's proposals for achieving this carefully," added Cairns.

A poll conducted on behalf of CARE by Savanta found strong public backing for the introduction of age checks, with eight in 10 saying they should be introduced to protect children, and the same number agreeing that online porn should only be accessible to over-18s.

separate poll for CARE found that six in 10 UK adults fear porn is inspiring sexual violence against women and girls.

Originally published by Christian Today