Boys think they are in porn movies, MPs told

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London - Children are committing depraved sex attacks after having their minds warped by online porn, a UK expert warned on Tuesday.

In evidence to MPs, the Deputy Children’s Commissioner claimed there ‘isn’t a town, village or hamlet in which children are not being sexually exploited’ - often by other youngsters.

Sue Berelowitz said internet porn was ‘affecting children’s thresholds of what they think is normal’.

They are then ‘enacting’ scenes from porn movies - often as part of gangs which subject young girls to terrible abuse.

The deputy commissioner, appointed to look after the best interests of children, has backed the Daily Mail’s campaign for controls to make it harder for youngsters to access pornographic images on computers.

MPs, charities and this paper want a new ‘opt-in’ system - where access to porn is normally blocked by the internet service provider, unless parents specifically request otherwise. Miss Berelowitz told MPs this move would be the right way to make a ‘start’.

She said parents needed to recognise that children could access porn from home computers and mobiles and they alone would not be able to successfully control what young people could see.

Appearing before the Home Affairs select committee, Miss Berelowitz told of her great concern about what internet porn was doing to vulnerable young minds.

She explained: ‘We’ve had boys say to us - some of the boys I’ve spoken to who’ve been involved in sexual exploitation - “it was like being in a porn movie”.

‘They have watched things and then they’ve enacted them. It has definitely affected children’s thresholds of what they think is normal.’

Her comments will increase the pressure on ministers to take drastic action to protect children from damaging images online.

The opt-in system is being resisted by internet companies, who make millions from adverts for pornographic websites. Ministers, who have been criticised for their close ties to companies such as Google, have yet to reach a final decision.

Miss Berelowitz, who is carrying out a two-year investigation on street grooming, painted a depressing picture of child sex abuse.

She added: ‘What I am uncovering is that sexual exploitation of children is happening all over the country. As one police officer who was the lead in a very big investigation in a very lovely, leafy, rural part of the country said to me, “There isn’t a town, village or hamlet in which children are not being sexually exploited”.

‘The evidence that has come to the fore during the course of my inquiry is that that, unfortunately, appears to be the case. We should start from the assumption that children are being sexually exploited right the way across the country. In urban, rural and metropolitan areas, I have hard evidence of children being sexually exploited. It is very sadistic, it is very violent, it is very ugly.’

Giving examples from the capital, she said: ‘There are parts of London where certainly children expect to have to perform oral sex on line-ups of boys, up to two hours at a time from the age of 11.’

Miss Berelowitz added that it was ‘quite common’ for girls to be lured via internet chatrooms to meet a friend, only to be met by a group of boys and gang-raped in a park.

She went on: ‘Then another group of boys come, they take her to another part of the park and she is serially raped again. I wish I could say to you that such things are uncommon but I’m afraid they are quite common.’

The deputy commissioner told MPs that ‘what is being done is so terrible that people need to lay aside their denial’ or risk victims being disbelieved.’ Victims numbered in the thousands not the hundreds, she said.

She said she was ‘extremely concerned’ about the role being played by the internet in enabling and fuelling abuse. Young people were even organising abuse via social networking sites and messaging systems.

Peter Davies, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre, has warned that children are now accessing the web at a far younger age, meaning they could stumble across adult material.

His organisation is now distributing films to schools aimed at children between the ages of five and eight, to train them how to avoid online dangers.

In his evidence to MPs, Mr Davies said he would score the public sector only ‘five out of ten’ for its ability to protect children from abuse.

He claimed that, on average, one child in every 20 was the victim of sexual abuse. - Daily Mail


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