Our straight talking Lancashire lass takes a sideways look at the daily news.
Should pornography be banned?
When smoking was banned in public places, there were national grumbles, but eventually we got over it and found that smoke-free restaurants were actually quite pleasant. There were very good reasons for the smoking ban. Smoking causes a plethora of diseases, it was a public health issue and the effects went beyond those who chose to smoke.
At the risk of sounding like Mary Whitehouse, I believe the same can be said for pornography. I’m not talking about top shelf editions of Razzle, or dirty mags hidden from view – I’m talking about the ubiquitous nature of hardcore pornography that has permeated most of our daily lives.
And the people who are most at risk are our children who have access to hardcore porn from their computers and mobile phones, 24/7.
My opinion of this isn’t lifted from the knee-jerk “Let’s ban the Internet!!!!” brigade from the Daily Mail, but from my family’s experience in social work.
Online porn is frequently used by paedophiles to groom children, and social workers deal with the fall-out of this all the time. Children who are exposed to hardcore pornography may end up committing abuse themselves without even realising - it’s not unusual to find young teenagers on the Sex Offender’s Register because their behaviour has altered after exposure to these damaging images.
Increasing numbers of children are sharing explicit pictures of themselves and sharing them by phone or online. What most children don’t realise that it is illegal to possess and share images of child pornography (which these images are) – and why would they? They are kids – it shouldn’t be in their lives! So if they are found out, again it’s onto the Sex Offender’s Register they go.
Just to put it into perspective, if an adult exposes a child to pornography it is considered child abuse. There are laws against this for a reason – it harms the child. It warps their developing minds and destroys any sense of boundaries and appropriateness. Lord knows how it will affect their ability to have normal, loving relationships when they are older. Exposure to porn tells the child that this is what adult sex is really like, this is how men and women should look, and that this is what really happens.
Feminist and anti-porn activist Gail Dines describes in her latest book ‘Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked Our Sexuality’ (a damn fine book if you want to explore the subject further) how pornography today is casually cruel, violent and phenomenally degrading to women. Extreme violence in porn is now the norm, and this is the content that our children have at their fingertips.
Last year, the Bailey Review on Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood was published, stating that children lives are surrounded by a ‘wallpaper’ of sexual content and more support must be given to parents to help them protect children from this onslaught of sexual material, which frankly is everywhere - from TV, music videos and adverts, to the Internet and mobile web.
I’m all for freedom of the Web – but I think that parents should be empowered to protect their children from this vile content. And I’d go as far to say that hardcore pornography (not just extreme porn), the modern day health hazard, should be banned outright.