Renewed Calls To Protect Children From Pornography

JOHANNESBURG – The Film and Publication Board (FPB) in partnership with the Family Policy Institute (FPI) has renewed calls for urgent action to protect children from exposure to pornography. Citing research carried out by Doctors for Life (DFL) linking contact with pornography in young children to deviant behaviour, the FPB’s CEO Yoliswa Makhasi has urged greater responsibility at all levels of society to protect children from exposure to pornography and other forms of undesirable content.

“We believe those who should know better are not taking the care they should to protect our children,” says Makhasi, referring to two recent incidents where unsuitable material was broadcast by television stations.

* In March this year, DStv’s Animax channel screened bestiality but the BCCSA admits it was powerless to enforce the Code of Conduct governing pay-TV broadcasters as it could not prove that Multichoice knew about the offensive content. The BCCSA has subsequently called for a review of the Code.

* SABC 3 screened an episode of Oprah dealing with pornography several hours before the acceptable watershed time The FPB is unable to regulate what channels air, although the channels themselves refer to ICASA, which says it only presides over quotas and licensing. “Clearly, a glaring gap exists.”

It’s against this backdrop that a symposium is to be held next week (26-27 July), hosted by the FPB. The gathering will bring together diverse stakeholders to discuss what society should do to safeguard children from being exposed to pornography.

“Among others, we’ll be discussing what interventions are currently in place to limit pornography to adult exposure, where the gaps are and what we could possibly do to close them,” she says.

According to Makhasi, some feel that since publications dealing with sexual matters, as well as so-called soft-pornography publications, along with films and DVDs are already required to submit to the FPB for classification, that enough is being done to safeguard children from exposure.

“We believe this is not the case. Adults need to take responsibility or face the consequences of a generation forever scarred due to their unwillingness to take proper care of their children.”

Stakeholders attending the symposium include: Department of Education, Freedom of Expression Institute, Family Policy Institute, Watchdog International, Moral Regeneration Movement, Childline, SAPS Cybercrimes Unit, STOP, Justice Alliance Network, ICASA and Doctors for Life. DFL will be presenting the results of groundbreaking new scientific exploration into the effects of pornography on children’s brains.

According to DFL head Dr Albu van Eeden, the primitive brain (limbic system) matures in a child long before the thinking brain (neocortex & prefrontal cortex).

“That means the child can “feel”, “experience” and “taste” sexual images/sexual touches from an adult before the child can even express him or herself. These memories are stored sometimes subconsciously and can lead to deviant behaviour later in life,” he says.

“Pornographic images cause a combination of feelings of lust, fear, disgust, anger etc. All these feelings form part of the addictive nature of pornography. However, in children fear is often the primary response due to the fact that they do not have the emotional nor cognitive skills to handle the impulses,” says Van Eeden. “The results are clear, life-long memories and mental scars.”

Furthermore, Van Eeden notes that since children’s weak ability to differentiate between fantasy and reality, they easily adopt attitudes and behaviour seen in pornographic material as acceptable and normal.” -thus making them even more vulnerable to abuse.

For more examples of the negative effects of pornography on children, please read the following:

“Parents of a 14-year-old boy brought their son to me when they discovered that he was sexually molesting his sister. We found on investigation that cable TV was in the home, and late at night on one of the channels, there were some very graphic, rough, very violent depictions of sexuality. He got up at two in the morning, went downstairs, and watched these films night after night. They became the training manual or ‘sex education’ that triggered him to assault his sister sexually.”

“Two brothers, ages 9 and 10, stumbled across their parents’ X-rated video tapes and secretly played them for many months. They later forced two younger siblings and a neighborhood boy to view the video tapes, stripped all three children naked, forced dirt, sticks, and small rocks into their rectums, forced them to engage in oral sex and anal sex, and threatened to shoot them with a BB gun if they told. This abuse continued for nearly a year before finally being discovered when one of the younger abused children could no longer tolerate it and gained the courage to report it.”

>From the archives of Dr Victor B. Cline, a psychotherapist specialising in family/ marital counseling and sexual addictions. He is also author/editor of numerous scientific articles and books including, “Where Do You Draw the Line? Explorations in Media Violence, Pornography, and Censorship.”