Pornography: Sex Education or Child Abuse?

There is no doubt in my mind that the answer to my question is that exposure to pornography is deeply damaging to children.  Yet not long ago I was at a conference designed to tackle the issues of pornography and how to protect children from it.  This question was discussed.

One speaker suggested that lack of good quality sex education was the reason children accessed pornography.  Given that mankind has managed to reproduce successfully since the time of Adam and Eve without access to the internet I pointed out to her that her approach was a little too simplistic and minimizing the impact that pornography has on the developing brain.

Psychologists are now agreeing with both religious and political parties in warning that pornography is damaging our society.  They too are saying that porn is changing sexuality and relationships for the worse.  Exposure to pornography helps to promote sexist and unhealthy notions of sex and relationships.  The use of pornography reinforces attitudes that support sexual coercion and increases the likelihood of perpetrating assault.

Pornography is a poor and dangerous sex educator.  It shows sex in unrealistic ways and neglects intimacy. Most pornography is sexist and implies that violence is part of a healthy sexual relationship (Special Issues on Gender & Child Harm, 2009).

typing on computer

In order to help protect the young people in your life knowing what you are up against is vital. The NSPCC (2015) surveyed young people aged 11-17 and found 1 in 5 children aged 12-13 think that watching porn is normal behaviour, almost 10% children aged 12-13 are worried they might be addicted to porn, 20% said they'd seen pornographic images that had shocked or upset them and 12% admitted to making or being part of a sexually explicit video.

36% of the internet is porn, it generates $3000 a second, one third of downloads are from pornographic sites and some studies have suggested that the average age of exposure to pornography is 6 (Generation Porn, The Sunday Times, 2013).

Sounds depressing but there are things you can do. From a practical perceptive on how to protect children the NSPCC has some great advice. But I would also suggest the following:

  • Don’t bury your head in the sand. Knowledge is power – learn how to protect your family online.
  • Try not to be embarrassed - be someone your child can talk to if they come across pornography online.
  • Talk to your children about what a good and healthy relationships are. Model them! Let them know that pornography isn’t a true representation of what a healthy sexual relationship is.
  • Teach them the positive truths the Bible teaches about sex and relationships.