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What is porn doing to our children?

A cross-party group of MPs chaired by Claire Perry has campaigned for internet safety, to protect children from exposure to online pornography. 

With support from the Prime Minister the group has seen Internet Service Providers required to verify the age of the person setting controls on all newly purchased Broadband packages and computers.

Viewing pornographic sites via public Wi-Fi is to be blocked. This campaign has helped to expose alarming evidence of the numbers of children who regularly access pornography online. Unpublished research by the Children’s Commissioner found that in one large English local authority “100%, that is every single year nine boy – 14 year olds – is accessing pornography. And about 50% of the girls.”

Children as young as 11 had been found actively "seeking out pornography".[i] This is an issue for parents and schools. Parents have the primary responsibility for their children’s moral education. Half have installed filters on their home computer but 37% have not and 13% don’t know if their computer has a filter. 45% have monitoring software to record the sites their children access. However, there is suspicion that computer-savvy youngsters know better than their parents how to circumvent these safeguards.

Internet access via the latest mobile telephones is one route. Schools have a statutory duty to “promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, and prepare pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.”[ii] The PSHE curriculum is not part of the National Curriculum and each school chooses how to fulfil this part of their duty. Personal identities, healthy lifestyles, risk and relationships are key concepts in PSHE but there are disagreements about how best to deal with pornography. The Sex Education Forum advocates that pornography should be taught as part of media literacy and representation, gender, sexual behaviour and body image”.

Their point is that pornography is now so ubiquitous that children should be taught how it presents unreal images of human body. Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, is horrified by this approach: “The intention appears to be to steer children and young people away from a belief in moral absolutes and to encourage them to think that there are no rights and wrongs when it comes to sexual expression”. 

Mr Well’s view is based on biblical teaching that sex is a private activity between a man and a woman in an exclusive, lifelong relationship.[iii] 

Our relativist society no longer accepts this but the evidence is that relationships based on Christian standards of morality tend to last longer even though we all fall short of these standards. The harm done to children by pornography in the formative stages of their moral and relational development will damage society later on, if and when their adult relationships break down.
[i] Christopher Hope, The Daily Telegraph, 3rd April 2013
 
[ii] Education Act 2002, Section 78 and Academies Act 2010
 
[iii] Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5-6; Mark 10:7-8;1Cor 6:12-20

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