Almost 100 people attended a Sexual Integrity Forum that took place on 8-9 August 2005 at Parliament House, Canberra. The purpose of the Forum was to promote “quality relationships between men and women for the purpose of ending the sexual exploitation of women and children in Australia in the 21st century.” Dr Mary Anne Layden (see article on page 2) was the keynote speaker. Eight Federal MP’s supported and helped to host the forum.
Four West Australians attended including Linda Watson from Linda’s House of Hope; Richard Egan from the National Civic Council; Rob Furlong from Thornlie Church of Christ; and Dwight Randall from Life Ministries.
Five policy electives were considered during the forum. One policy urges the Federal Government to introduce a national system of mandatory filtering of the internet to block access to pornography.Below is a slightly edited version of a paper Dwight presented on that subject to the forum.
The purpose of this submission is to argue that the Government should act to restrict the flood of hardcore pornography on the Internet because it is doing great social harm to children and adolescents.
Until the last decade children and adolescents were protected from viewing hardcore pornography. Even adults were protected from it, unless they deliberately went 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 hardcore 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 and the largest consumers are between 12 and 17 years of age. One person wrote, “At the age of 7 … I spent the night with a friend. He popped in a video that had hardcore 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 and they all serve to distort children’s perceptions about what is healthy and dangerous, normal and deviant, moral and immoral in sexual behaviour.
— Pornography harms children. The internet is being used as an effective tool for paedophiles not only to 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. Study after study shows that there is a clear connection between pornography 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 diseases (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. Caring, responsible parents wish to instil personal values about relationships, sex, intimacy, love, and marriage.By contrast, pornography instils: callousness toward women, trivialisation of rape, distorted perceptions about sexuality, a broadening appetite for deviant and bizarre forms of sex, addiction to pornography itself, 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 children and support the parents of Australia.