Porn Is Having Some Very Serious Effects On Children Today

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Earlier this month the case of a 12-year-old boy who reportedly raped his younger sister repeatedly came before the court. The boy, now 14, has pleaded guilty to six charges of raping his sister, a girl under 13.

Searches of hardcore, incest pornography were found in the boy’s internet history, and he has been sentenced to a 12-month referral order. The boy is not allowed to see his sister or associate with anyone under the age of 16.

In Canada, a 13-year-old boy pleaded guilty to repeatedly raping a 4-year-old boy in his foster home, stating that he planned the acts after watching gay porn on his foster parent’s computer months before.

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Back in 2013, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act found that over 5,000 cases of rape and other serious sexual assaults were reported to UK police in the previous three years. The terrifying part is that the offenders involved in these cases were all under 18-years-old, with some of them as young as five.

Cases of rape by minors are growing and many theories have sprung up to work out why these children are committing such acts.

Young children are known to mimic the things they see, and early contact with hardcore pornographic material is one such theory – as it can greatly affect a child and make it believe that recreating the acts they see is normal, and natural. The majority of child rape cases would seem to suggest that this could be a factor, as most of the under-age offenders have had some kind of interaction with pornography before carrying out the attacks.

Speaking to a spokesman for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, he touched on some of their findings: “Our recent research has shown that many children as young as eleven are viewing this material and while at first they might be shocked by what they have seen the impact eventually dies down and they treat it as nothing out of the ordinary.”

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For young people these days, porn isn’t hard to access. Parents can lock their computers and install safeguards, but with the the all-encompassing access children have to computers and the internet today, a quick Google search can unearth hundreds of images and videos of every kind of pornography imaginable.

The sheer volume of the content available, showing people performing thousands of sexual acts, often in a role-playing, violent manner, could help lead an impressionable child – who views them at a time when his sense of right and wrong is still in early development – to believe that these acts are normal and are done by everyone.

It should be said that there is nothing wrong with porn, and any adult should have access to the industry’s legal content. But a child’s mind just isn’t ready for what is available online, especially when it contains morally questionable material like incest and excessive violence.

The NSPCC spokesman reinforced that point, saying: “A generation of children are in danger of being stripped of their childhoods at a young age by viewing online porn. There is deep concern that they treat this as normal and, in some cases, want to copy what they see. Exposing children to porn before they are equipped to cope with it can be extremely damaging.”

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But where are the parents in all this? Many child offenders come from broken or dysfunctional homes, and often imitate actions of violence and abuse they see happening in their own family.

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In 2005, a U.S. survey titled Exposure to Internet Pornography among Children and Adolescents found that around 90 per cent of children aged between 12 and 18 had some exposure to porn.

This may often happen by chance, but the majority of children who actively sought out porn were found to have shown signs of bad behaviour and substance abuse in the months leading to their first contact with it. Many also showed signs of mild depression, and had a bad emotional connection and relationship with their caregivers.

On the other hand, the research also found that seeking out porn is perfectly natural for teenagers over the age of 14, and is simply based on the curiosity they have concerning sex and reproduction. In a 2013 survey, the NSPCC found that over 74 per cent of 11 to 18-year olds thought porn should be discussed in sex education, reinforcing the need for education when it comes to pornography.

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Children are curious, and will of course want to know about sex at some point. Discussing porn openly and teaching children about it seems like a much better alternative, when many of them are finding hardcore content by themselves online, being shocked by it initially, and then, after some time, acting as if the actions are normal and wanting to try them themselves.

“It’s vital that we educate them, through sex education in schools, so they understand porn is not normal,” states the NSPCC spokesman. “Industry and Government must take more responsibility to ensure that children are protected. Some companies have taken the initiative when it comes to online safety but there is still a long way to go.”

So education is key to help prevent these sexual crimes, but what happens to children who have already committed the acts, and are being sentenced? The judge in the aforementioned case stated that the 12-year-old boy will be monitored and cannot make contact with anyone under 16.

While he can still use the internet, his search history cannot be deleted and will be checked regularly. But is this enough to change a boy who repeatedly raped his younger sister?

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Carolyn Worth, manager of the South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault in Australia, describes how these crimes are handled in Victoria:

We have a group of services called Sexually Abusive Treatment Services. Their job is to see young people who have sexually harmful behaviour. These are often towards siblings. Legislation was created in 2007 that enabled young people to be referred to these services. Therapeutic Treatment Orders were created for the purpose of referral. These orders are made by Therapeutic Treatment Boards which are a panel of psychologists, police, psychiatrists, and occasionally legal people. There are four people on a panel. The services provide a year of treatment for young people from 10-18 years of age. If you need to extend, then it can be another year.

This is seen as a great model for Australia, and Mrs Worth mentions a surprising outcome that came with these orders: “When these services and the Boards were set up the assumption was that most young people would need an order, but the majority of young people have come voluntarily without needing an order. The kids that need an order are usually from very dysfunctional families. Most families want this matter dealt with and treated.”

Similar models are being instituted by other countries across the globe, as people are realising that children who have committed these crimes need more that a slap on the wrist. The information presented by Mrs Worth shows that children want to be treated, and want to learn how to act properly in society.

They need continuous psychological treatment and therapy in order to return to a good frame of mind, and not let the mistakes they made as children ruin the rest of their lives.

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