Can download PDF here – A Child’s Right to be Protected from Exposure to Online Pornography: Assessing the Harm Caused by Contemporary Online Pornography and Evaluating Current Regulatory and Legal Frameworks Aimed at Child Protection Online (2019)
International Journal of the Jurisprudence of the Family, Forthcoming
67 Pages Posted: 8 May 2019
Date Written: May 1, 2019
Following the violent abduction, rape, and murder of eight-year old Asifa Bano in Kathua, Kashmir, her name topped the trending search board on at least one major pornography website. Across the globe in the United Kingdom, one thirteen-year-old boy reported, “I have been bullied into watching pornographic videos by people at school, which makes me feel sick. One showed a woman being raped, it was so upsetting.” Another young girl confessed, “I am really ashamed and now I am getting emails from tons of porno sites. I am so scared my mum is going to find out.”
Pornography is not harmless. Each day children as young as five are exposed, either inadvertently or via deliberate searches, to shockingly violent content comprising today’s mainstream pornography. The effects of young children viewing “barely legal” content and consuming sexually aggressive messages at a young age manifest in a slew of harms that are grave enough to have prompted governmental regulation.
In addition to critically evaluating the incoming age-verification requirement for commercial pornography providers, we as individuals, parents, teachers, and communities need to recognise childhood exposure to pornography as a public health issue and react accordingly. Regulation alone is insufficient to uphold children’s rights to be free from harm, to enjoy childhood, and to develop in a healthy manner. Our response must emphasise, without regard to politics or morality, the harms that pornography poses for children and seek to raise awareness across all sectors; we need to ensure that the pornography industry is held legally and socially accountable, as well as train educators to frankly discuss the issues with parents and children. Most importantly, we must commit to keeping children’s voices at the centre of our discussions and to listen intently to their suggestions, concerns, and questions surrounding pornography and sexuality.