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Online Safety

CARE: Govt must protect children from pornography

23 October 2019

CARE has spoken out about the Government’s decision to drop age-verification on online pornographic websites.

In a letter published in The Times (scroll down to Children and Porn) on Tuesday, 22 October, CARE alongside other campaigners criticised the decision to drop plans for passes for adult sites.

Last week, after years of repeated delays the government quietly ditched the plans, which were a manifesto commitment.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

Sir,

Edward Lucas writes about the government plan for passes to adult sites (“Ministers have been taught a lesson about porn, Oct 21). With the Digital Economy Act 2017, the Government committed to introduce an age verification system to prevent children from accessing pornography online.

Last month a survey for the British Board of Film Classification found that children as young as seven had viewed hardcore pornography. Half (51 per cent) of those aged 11-13 said they had seen porn, rising to 66 per cent among 14-15-year-olds. The researchers concluded viewing porn is harming children's understanding of healthy relationships, sex, body image and consent. The research mirrored a Middlesex University report for the NSPCC in 2016. It found viewing porn gave children an entirely unrealistic image of sex.

This is why we are extremely disappointed that the Government has ditched its plans to introduce age verification for pornography. Its justification, repeated by Lucas, seems to be that enterprising teenagers might find ways around the restrictions. But in April this year, the former Digital Minister Margot James when introducing the proposed scheme, concluded that this protection would stop many impressionable children from viewing graphic images and films, including extreme hardcore and violent material portraying rape and other shameful acts that abuse and degrade women. A view we share.

We hope the government will reconsider this long overdue measure.

Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute; Josephine Bartosch, Director of Click Off; Dr Mark Pickering, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship; Nola Leach, chief executive of CARE

Online

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For children and young people, access to harmful online content is only a click away. CARE is working towards a society where they are as well-protected online as they are offline.

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