Magazines aimed at teenagers are to be blamed for the "early sexualisation" of young readers, a consumer watchdog has claimed.
According to Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus, magazines were "pushing the envelope" and warned that parents would be shocked by much of their content.
As per a study by The Sunday Telegraph of several teen magazines it was found that they contained sexually explicit material that was potentially in breach of the industry's editorial code.
Bliss magazine, whose readers have an average age of 15, features on the front of this month's issue the cover lines "The Sex Factor, your questions answered on p46" and "Gang raped - for a mobile phone."
April's Sugar magazine, with readers aged 14 on average, features a spread entitled "Is it a crush or are you gay?". This month's Top of the Pops Magazine, which is also meant for teenagers, is sold with a set of "Kiss Me!" stickers.
The Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel (TMAP), the industry's self-regulatory body, is supposed to ensure that "the sexual content of teenage magazines is presented in a responsible and appropriate manner".
Its guidelines state that "readers will always be encouraged to take a responsible attitude to sex" and that "editorial content of the magazines will reflect the typical concerns of the magazine's readership".
However, critics say that few parents know about TMAP.
"Teenage magazines do have a role to play in guiding teenagers through difficult issues, but when it comes to what is responsible and what is not, clearly the envelope is being pushed and parents would be shocked by much of their content," The Telegraph quoted Mayo, as saying.
Mayo added: "There is no doubt that some of these magazines are responsible for the early sexualisation of children. If you let industry set the rules, the industry will often find a way through. The answer is not always new rules, but I would welcome the current guidelines actually being enforced."