Teenage relationships are becoming increasingly more abusive due to the easy access to Internet pornography, a top barrister in England has warned.
Keir Starmer, the drector of public prosecutions, said that he was worried about the “exposure of young people to all sorts of material”.
The 49-year-old admitted there could be a link between the easy access to internet pornography for children with “emerging research” about increasing violence among teenage boyfriends and girlfriends.
The Crown Prosecution Service is now reviewing teenage domestic violence cases to see if any action needs to be taken.
The news came after a schoolboy rapist had escaped a jail term because the judge said he had viewed internet pornography. The 14-year-old boy was freed and given a three year community order with supervision after he was found guilty of raping a four-year-old girl.
The judge in Cambridge justified the sentence on the grounds that the boy had been “sexualised by the corruption of pornography.
Asked about the case on BBC Radio Five on Thursday morning, Starmer declined to comment on the case or the sentence.
“I myself have been concerned about the exposure of young people to all sorts of material, and the emerging research tends to suggest that there is a lot of abuse within teenage relationships,” the Telegraph quoted him as saying on the show.
Last year Starmer, in a speech, had warned that the UK was “clearly at risk of a whole new generation of domestic violence” in teenage relationships.
He illustrated his speech with figures that suggested 13 year olds to 15 year olds were as likely to experience violence as youths aged over 16.
“The current way that we try to stop children seeing this damaging material is broken,” Claire Perry MP, Conservative chairman of the all-party inquiry on online child protection, said.
“We have seen lots of examples of how generally accessing this material can change behaviour but now we have some very disturbing examples of children having their behaviour influenced by this.
“At what point do we stop wringing our hands and say it is someone else’s fault? We need change the way filters operate on computers and accept that we all have a role to play,” he said.
Jon Brown, head of the NSPCC’s Sexual Abuse programme said that children today were exposed to the adult content by click of a mouse that was earlier available only to adults through legal licensed sex shops.
“Some of the most vulnerable children and young people are now getting access to hard core pornography. We have serious concerns about children accessing this online as it gives them an unrealistic and sometimes dangerous view of sexual relations,” Brown said.
A study carried out by Bristol University last September revealed that violence in teenage relationships was much more prevalent than previously thought, with those from disadvantaged backgrounds twice as likely to be abused by violent partners.