Our response to Sex & Censorship’s open letter about porn

“We listen to the voices of children day in, day out, and it’s essential that we address issues that they find worrying”, says Peter Wanless

NSPCC CEO Peter Wanless responds to an open letter written by Jerry Barnett of the Sex & Censorship campaign about our new ChildLine campaign addressing porn. Aimed directly at children and young people, the campaign tackles the concerns of the children and young people who contact ChildLine about how pornography is affecting their lives. 

Dear Mr Barnett

Thank you for your letter detailing your concerns about our recently launched porn campaign for young people and a poll that was published with it.

As you will be aware the NSPCC has a long tradition of campaigning on difficult issues that affect children. Our work is solely designed to make the most difference to the protection of children. Through our various services, including ChildLine, we listen to the voices of children day in day out and it is essential that we respond to their concerns and help them confront and address issues that they find worrisome. Porn is a subject which has always drawn strong debate but that doesn’t mean that we should shy away from what children are telling us.

As you will expect we make no judgment on adults viewing porn. But we know through those who call ChildLine, that children can be worried and upset by the effect pornography is having on them.  A recent European-wide piece of research into violence and abuse in teenage relationships found a high proportion of boys in England regularly viewed pornography, and one in five harbored extremely negative attitudes towards women. High levels of sexual coercion and in some cases violence within teenage relationships were reported. We believe that as a society we need to ensure that children are both protected and educated in the best way possible. Rather than seek to restrict debate we seek to promote it for it is only when subjects are not allowed to remain in the shadows that they can be properly dealt with.

As a campaigning organisation, the NSPCC uses a wide range of methods to listen to the voices of children, parents, carers and professionals. We continue to explore how sensitive subjects, including pornography, are affecting young people.  This will no doubt uncover difficult and complex issues; and we must work together as a society to address these challenges.

Best Wishes

Peter Wanless

Chief Executive, NSPCC