South African therapists and sex educator practitioners say interventions are needed to stop today’s youngsters suffering serious health effects later in life due to pornography addiction (2016)

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‘Eight-year-olds are exposed to porn’

Kwazulu Natal / 13 Jun '16

Kerushun Pillay

Durban - South African addiction therapists and sex education practitioners say drastic interventions are needed to stop today’s youngsters suffering serious health effects later in life due to pornography addiction.

A selection interviewed by The Mercury said the ease of access to porn through technology increased the likelihood of addiction, which stifled male virility and ruined the capacity to form “healthy and loving” relationships.

South African addiction therapists and sex education practitioners say that porn addiction in children was a growing "epidemic".

They said porn addiction in children was a growing “epidemic”. One child as young as 10 had been treated.

“What we found years ago in our talks and workshops on sex education is that Grade 5 pupils, 9- and 10-year-olds, have been exposed to porn”, said Heather Hansen, whose organisation, Teenworx, runs school development workshops.

“There are few young boys and girls who can honestly say they have never seen sexually explicit material,” said Clive Human, director of Standing Together to Oppose Pornography.

He said the average age at which children were exposed to porn was now 8.

“The youth start experimenting when they are too young to process the emotional impact that the visual stimulation and lack of boundaries of pornography present,” said Sheryl Rahme, an addiction specialist at Changes Rehab Centre.

This early exposure, all agreed, damaged sexual health in later life. Frequent viewing of porn caused a “rewiring” of the brain, said Rahme.

“Young porn viewers are training their bodies to become aroused specifically in unusual circumstances... presented by pornography. Porn introduces them to usual, multifaceted approaches to sex. They are not ready to process it.”

Hansen said this caused an eventual craving for “heavy stimulation” to become aroused. “You find 18-25-year-olds, who should be at their sexual peak, with erectile disfunction,” she said.

In later life, porn addicts struggled to show or receive love and intimacy from a partner, she said.

Porn addiction “causes a disturbance of the really fragile bonds of intimate family and marital relationships”, said Human. “This is where the most serious pain, damage, and sorrow occurs.”

Most people told their children not to watch it but didn’t know enough to support, educate and nurture them through it, Rahme said.

“Without having these conversations in a safe and loving way, young people move through their developmental milestones without a deeper understanding of what constitutes a healthy sexual, loving and mutually beneficial relationship,” she said.