Byline: Annie Brown
THE seedy side of the internet has helped contribute to a 10 per cent increase in sex crimes across Scotland, experts have claimed.
Rape and attempted rape were up 13 per cent in official figures out yesterday.
The number of other sexual offences leapt by 48 per cent as overall sex crimes jumped from 6696 to 7359.
Some of the increase is explained by new legislation which came into force at the end of 2010, setting out a broader legal definition of consent and recognition of male rape.
But there have been increasing concerns that access to internet porn is one way we are becoming an increasingly sexualised society.
The number of pornographic sites has soared from 14million in 1998 to 293million.
A quarter of daily search engine requests are for porn and one in 10 web sites is pornographic.
The average age of exposure to pornography has dropped from 15 to 11 in less than a decade and experts fear some children are growing up with a distorted view of what constitutes normal sex.
Young men are also increasingly filming themselves during sexual acts and exchanging the images as proof of their sexual prowess.
Youth outreach worker Linda Thompson, of the Women's Support Project for women and children affected by sexual violence, said professionals working with Scotland's kids were increasingly concerned.
She said: "It is across the sectors from teachers, community workers, educational psychologists, social workers and sexual health workers.
"They are concerned about the pressures young people feel to be sexually active in a certain way.
"Young people have always needed to experiment sexually but the boundaries are being changed. Young women talk about huge pressure to perform in a way that young men have seen in porn.
"Children will be sexualised, that is a natural process, but what we are talking about is hypersexualisation of children long before the age-appropriate stage."
Linda said young men now feel they have to prove they are men by having phone footage of girls carrying out sex acts on them.
And young girls feel compelled to comply to acts young men have seen in pornography.
Linda said that sometimes the behaviour could cross the line into violence and assault.
She said: "Young men feel they have to up the ante constantly. And if they don't get what you want, do they take it?" Glasgow University film lecturer Karen Boyle has looked at the impact of pornography on society.
She said there was no evidence to prove or disprove a link between pornography and sexual violence but said it was fair to examine the possibility. …