Porn's effect on youth 'is catastrophic'

Porn's effect on youth 'is catastrophic'

A tidal wave of graphic online pornography was blamed for the 'catastrophic sexualisation' of young people yesterday.

Easy access to extreme material is corroding the lives of children and destroying their innocence, a senior police officer warned.

Chief Superintendent John Sutherland said he has been left speechless by the impact of hardcore pornography available to anyone with a smartphone – and listed a series of violent sex crimes by children which he believes have been fuelled by the internet. 

These included teenage boys coolly planning the gang-rape of a young girl and forensically cleaning up afterwards, and the knife-point rape of a boy by another teenage boy.

He accused those who attempt to 'brush off' the risks of allowing boys unrestricted access to hardcore footage as 'either wilfully ignorant or wilfully stupid'.

Writing on his blog, the Met Police chief claimed some of the things have 'absolutely stopped me in my tracks'. 

He said: 'I am a police officer, I am a dad, I am a human being and these things are happening on my watch. [It's] what some young boys seem to expect; what some young girls seem to accept.

'There is so much that might be said about the catastrophic sexualisation of young people – but words honestly fail me.

'There is only so much picking up of the pieces that policing can do. These are our children. And there is a loss of innocence in our society – on our streets and in our homes. It breaks my heart.' 

Straight-talking Mr Sutherland, a father of three who has thousands of followers on his Twitter page, @policecommander, attacked extreme pornography which is 'available without limit or restriction to anyone with an internet connection irrespective of age'.

He highlighted the dangers of 'horror porn' in which viewers 'get kicks out of torture', and also said some young men are so caught up in hyper-realistic violent computer games that they do not appreciate the 'finality' of death. Instead they expect to spring back to life again after an attack, just like their heroes do on the screen.

The Daily Mail has campaigned to block internet porn because of fears its easy availability is destroying children's lives. Earlier this year it was revealed that almost three-quarters of Sky's broadband customers opted to block pornographic websites after being forced to choose. 

There is so much that might be said about the catastrophic sexualisation of young people – but words honestly fail me 

The company announced an automatic block on harmful sites six months ago in a bid to prevent children from stumbling across hardcore images and videos. The announcement heaped pressure on rivals BT, TalkTalk and Virgin to introduce similar measures. 

Mr Sutherland, who has served in senior roles across the capital, including running several boroughs, said his experiences have made him increasingly concerned about what young people are being exposed to.

He described one case in which a group of teenage boys prepared a flat for rape 'in advance' and lured a girl there. He said: 'Their unsuspecting young victim is repeatedly raped – by one boy after another.

'It is an utter violation of the most horrifying and terrifying kind.

'They throw her out and then proceed to forensically clean the location, attempting to remove every last trace of their wickedness. I am speechless.' Mr Sutherland said that in another case detectives discovered that the perpetrator of the knife-point rape of a 14-year-old boy is a 15-year-old boy. He wrote: 'It absolutely stops me in my tracks… bloody hell.'

And during a Premier League football match, he was shocked when CCTV cameras picked up a teenage girl among a group of boys.

'Something about their behaviour isn't right,' he said.

'The camera stays on them and, to our absolute astonishment, the girl ducks down and appears to perform a sex act on one of the boys. In front of tens of thousands of football fans. I am in state of complete disbelief.'

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