A Bushey mother has voiced fears over young people being exposed to pornography after local research found children as young as five had watched it.

Helen Roberts, founder of Watford-based charity Dignify, revealed a survey of more than 1,000 young people in schools had thrown up startling statistics that were "confirming our concerns".

Among them was that the average age young people reported first watching pornography was 12 to 13 years old, though some said they had viewed it as young as five.

The survey also revealed that 59 per cent of children said curiosity was the reason they first watched it, 44 per cent of those said they had viewed it more than once, and 16 per cent found it by accident.

Helen said: “There are lots of stats out there about this already but the difference about what we’ve got is that it’s Watford’s young people’s voices so it’s our story which makes a huge difference.”

Watford Observer: Helen Roberts, founder of Watford-based charity Dignify.Helen Roberts, founder of Watford-based charity Dignify.

The survey, which began in September and is ongoing, was done in collaboration with forum SWISH (South West Herts Secondary Head Teachers) and was created in conjunction with three local secondary schools.

It was then piloted in one school with 14 to 18-year-olds and had opt in and out sections so pupils could skip questions if they wanted.

The study also revealed that 60 per cent of those who had viewed pornography said they expected it to be acted out, while 58 per cent felt that those using porn are more likely to objectify others.

Thirteen per cent reported viewing it daily or several times a day, and six per cent said they felt it had become a habit or addiction. 

Helen said: “We know from other studies done by other people that porn viewing can become addictive and it is escalating in its nature, so like any other addiction the dopamine release in the brain requires greater hits in order to give the same level of pleasure. 

“With porn that means the addiction becomes escalating so you need a different type of porn which is increasingly pushing the barriers and boundaries leading to the desire for more extreme porn.” 

She added that to protect children the Government needed to step in and implement age verification rules.

Dignify aims to tackle the growing use of pornography by young people. For more information visit: https://dignify.org/.