Three prominent national institutions have commissioned the Centre of Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS) at Middlesex University to carry out a study into the impact of viewing pornography on children and young people.
Associate Professor in Forensic Psychology Dr Miranda Horvath and Senior Lecturer in Criminology Dr Elena Martellozzo will lead the research, which has been jointly commissioned by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the Office of the Children's Commissioner (OCC). Professors Joanna Adler and Julia Davidson are co-investigators on the project.
The study is the latest into the effects of pornography undertaken at Middlesex, this time focusing specifically on the views of young people themselves.
It will build on evidence gathered during a 2013 Rapid Evidence Assessment commissioned by the OCC and led by Dr Horvath which explored the effects of access and exposure to pornography on children and young people.
"This is a very sensitive but highly topical issue we are looking at," said Dr Horvath. "The initial review was of the existing evidence base and this time we have the opportunity to collect new data and gain more insight and feedback from young people.
"We are discovering that it's easier for young people to gain access to porn. The family computer may have parental controls on it but children these days can also gain access to these adult sites through their smart phones and tablets."
CATS brings academics from the Department of Psychology in the School of Science and Technology together with colleagues in the School of Law's Department of Criminology and Sociology.
"Our expert team of researchers tackles contemporary issues such as internet child abuse, cyberbullying, sexting and online stalking, with the aim of making the internet a safer place for all young people. Having their support will help us greatly with our research," said Dr Martellozzo.
"Through this research it is hoped that some guidance will come into play when creating or changing government policies that are currently in place."
Social Work and Social Policy research at Middlesex had great success in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, achieving a sector wide power ranking of 4th.