Wednesday, August 4

Children’s Access to Online Pornography Fuels Sexual Harassment, Commissioner Says | Pornography


It is urgently necessary to restrict children’s access to online pornography to stop the spread of an activity that is partly to blame for normalizing sexual harassment in schools, according to the new Children’s Commissioner for England.

Dame Rachel de Souza urges governments and tech companies to introduce age verification controls. He warned that access to tough pornography was shaping children’s expectations of relationships and was partly to blame for thousands of testimonies of sexual harassment by schoolchildren posted on the Everyone’s Invited website in recent months.

The testimonies led Ofsted to carry out a review of what was happening in the schools. Their report, released last week, revealed that inspectors found that sexual harassment and sexual abuse online are a routine part of students’ lives.

“We cannot ignore that, nor should we,” de Souza told the Observer. “One area that I am clear about is that hardcore online pornography distorts children’s expectations of normal relationships and normalizes the behaviors that girls are expected to accept, and is too easy for boys to access.”

“Most of the children who have seen pornography say that the first time was accidental. In the real world, adults wouldn’t leave something dangerous or inappropriate lying around for kids to trip over. Why should the Internet be any different? “

Give me Rachel de Souza.
Give me Rachel de Souza. Photograph: Si Barber / The Guardian

She is raising the issue with the G7 leaders this weekend in her role as a member of the Gender Equality Advisory Council. You want to focus on effective age verification online. “Nobody thinks that the acceptable price of privacy and freedom of choice for adults should be unrestricted access to pornography for children,” he said.

However, experts cautioned that general porn blocks may not be effective or useful. Ruth Eliot, a sexual violence prevention specialist at the School for Sexuality Education, which runs workshops in schools, said trying to prevent young people from finding pornography online was “silly.” “Abstinence-based education around sexuality has never worked. Young people choose to view pornography as a result of a perfectly natural and normal curiosity about sexuality. Instead of policing that, we should train them on how to experience pornography in a way that makes them understand the cultural context and that it is not an instruction manual. “

Ellena Martellozzo, an associate professor of criminology at Middlesex University, said her research showed that preventing children from accidentally accessing violent pornography should be a priority. This sets off a cycle where they go from seeing it as “shocking” and “disgusting” to developing an interest in it.

“Children rely on pornography to learn about sex and relationships, when what they see is not a healthy way to view relationships at all,” he said. “Pornography is one of the many risk factors that can lead to sexual violence.”

While it recommended that the government include a pornography blockade in the next online safety bill, which could replicate legislation that prohibits those under 18 from accessing gambling sites, it cautioned that this would not it would be a “miracle solution”. Instead, schools should incorporate the discussion of pornography into sex education, as many still consider that “it is not appropriate to talk about pornography”.

In 2019, the UK government approved plans to become one of the first countries in the world to introduce a nationwide age verification system for online pornography, which would have required sites to verify credit cards or require purchasing a “porn pass” age verification. document. However, this was dropped due to technical issues and privacy issues.

Geoff Barton, secretary general of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that while sex education in schools was important, they “cannot win the broader battle on their own,” and that “there has not been enough action in nowhere to monitor the online environment. “

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said de Souza had been invited to discuss with tech companies, law enforcement agencies, children’s charities and schools about how to make children safer online.

She said: “This will include working with schools, parents and charities to support them in building strong social norms against minor access to pornography.”


www.theguardian.com

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