A plea for action to protect children

By Dwight Randall

Director, Life Ministries Inc.

The purpose of this submission is to argue that the Government should act to restrict the flood of hard-core pornography on the internet, as it is doing great social harm, particularly but not exclusively to children and adolescents.
Until the last decade children and adolescents were protected from viewing hard-core pornography. Even adults had to deliberately go out of their way to purchase it at "sex shops" where children were denied entry. Sex shops had regulations banning certain types of pornography, and because the materials had to be both sought and bought, consumption was limited.
But now thousands of unregulated hard-core pornography sites are being viewed by children and adolescents in their homes, or in some cases where parents are vigilant to the dangers, in their friend's homes. There are over 4 million websites containing 372 million pornographic pages on the net. These sites are being easily accessed by children and with minimal computer skills.  The average age of first internet exposure to pornography is 11 years old, with the largest consumers between 12 and 17 years of age. One child writes, "At the age of 7 I spent the night with a friend. He popped in a video that had hard-core porn and I saw things I'd never seen before. I was innocent and knew nothing about sex. I was shocked but at the same time I liked it. Then I got a computer of my own and all I wanted to do was to look at pornographic pictures, which I began to download. I spent hours and hours downloading. I burned porn DVDs and began selling them at school for $5.00 each."
The types of pornography available on the net are almost limitless, distorting children's perceptions about healthy and dangerous, normal and deviant, moral and immoral sexual behaviours. Pornography harms every child who views it.
"Pornography harms children.  The internet is being used as an effective tool for paedophiles to not only distribute sexually explicit materials depicting children, but also to seek out children in chat rooms. These children are deceived, introduced to pornography, groomed, and sometimes assaulted, raped and murdered.
"Pornography has a connection to sexual violence and rape.  Over 50 per cent of child molesters in one study revealed that they used pornography as stimuli in preparation to offend. In study after study, there is a clear connection between porn and violence.
"Pornography separates sex from love and responsibility. Pornography portrays sex without responsibility as being both acceptable and desirable.  In this sense, it lulls young people into believing that casual sex is risk free, when in reality it frequently results in unwanted pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted illnesses (some of which can be fatal), guilt, heartbreak, and the inability to enjoy lasting monogamous relationships.
"Pornography undermines attitudes and values that parents endeavour to instil in their children. Pornography undermines caring, responsible parents who wish to instil personal values about relationships, sex, intimacy, love, and marriage. Pornography leads to callousness toward women, trivialisation of rape, distorted perceptions about sexuality, a broadening appetite for deviant and bizarre forms of sex, porn addiction, a devaluation of monogamy and marriage, and a belief that non-monogamous relationships are normal.
Any government that cares for the development and welfare of children and adolescents should immediately impose restrictions upon the availability of porn on the net. By doing so, they will protect the vulnerable and support the parents of Australia.