STATEMENT – UNICEF Pulls Down Report Due to Concerns about Minimizing Harm of Childhood Porn Exposure

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Washington, DC (June 15, 2021) – Recently, the international child welfare agency UNICEF published its April 2021 report “Digital Age Assurance Tools and Children’s Rights Online across the Globe” which caused widespread concern amongst child safety experts and advocates for statements that appeared to minimize the harm of childhood pornography exposure. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), along with 487 child safety experts and advocates from 26 countries, sent UNICEF a letter in response, sharing data about the harms of pornography exposure to children.

Although UNICEF’s report acknowledged that “there are several different kinds of risks and harms that have been linked to children’s exposure to pornography,” it then proceeded to effectively dismiss the research on these harms saying, “the evidence is inconsistent, and there is currently no universal agreement on the nature and extent of the harm caused to children by viewing content classified as pornography.”

Upon receiving NCOSE’s letter, UNICEF pulled down the report.

A UNICEF spokesperson informed NCOSE that the initial report was written poorly in a way open to misinterpretation. The spokesperson clarified that UNICEF recognizes the harms of pornography exposure for children as stated on their website here.

UNICEF has also agreed to review this research shared in the international letter.

“We are thankful to UNICEF for responding to international concern and clarifying their position that pornography harms children,” said Haley McNamara, vice president of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, and the director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation (ICOSE). “The research is clear that children exposed to hardcore pornography are at greater risk for social and psychological development problems, including negative impacts on mental health and increased risk of child-on-child harmful sexual behavior.”

For more research on the public health harms of pornography view this research summary.

About National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography.

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NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.

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The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.

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