Plague of porn puts kids’ health at risk
Porn is everywhere. It has spread from the top shelves to our tablets, laptops and phones. And it has spread into our playgrounds.
As a mum of two young children, one of my greatest worries is of them being exposed to pornography at such an early age. It is such a brutal end to innocence.
Research by the NSPCC has shown that half of 11 to 16-year-olds have seen some sort of explicit material online – most by the time they turn 14.
And it is so easy to find. A quick online search and you can see all manner of nasty sex. Weird and revolting stuff. If you can think of it, someone will be online doing it.
When I was growing up, my only understanding of porn was walking past sex shops with blacked-out windows. The shifty blokes sneaking in just looked a bit sad and laughable. Or there were top shelf mags in newsagents, where a flash of boob might make schoolboys giggle.
The closest thing I ever got to porn was the film Porky’s, and even then I was so innocent I didn’t really know what the heck was going on.
But times have changed. And yet again, parents are fighting to keep up with them.
I got to really understand the effect porn can have when I met Sean Ward on Loose Women this week. He’s best known as Corrie bad boy Callum Logan. But life away from the cobbles has been tough for Sean, who admitted he had an addictive personality and has been battling depression.
He told me he’s given up booze, cannabis and porn to beat his demons but said porn was the worst. He calls it “the devil” and says it ruins relationships.
He reckons he got hooked on it because he was bored and that it needs to come with some kind of mental health warning.
It took real courage for him to admit he has a problem and it brought home what a major effect it can have on lives.
He has received hundreds of messages of support from people who have been affected by porn addiction – men and women.
Sean could get his hands on porn so easily. And so can our kids.
They are stumbling across extreme and violent porn online every day as easily as they can search for videos of cute cats playing the piano.
And parents can’t monitor their every second online. So we need help. Help from the social media giants and the clever people in Silicon Valley. Help from the Government.
Cigarettes have to be hidden behind cupboard doors in shops by law. But no one is protecting our kids’ mental health from the dangers of porn.
We have these big debates about when we should give kids sex education in the classroom.
The reality is it just takes one mate with a smartphone to show them a completely skewed view of it on the way to school.
Girls and boys are indoctrinated into thinking they have to live up to the unrealistic performance taking place on screen.
What they see on a computer round a mate’s house or on a laptop in their own rooms could damage them for ever, and destroy their chances of a loving relationship with ‘normal’ sex.
Of course young people are curious. Porn is not going away. But surely we need to make it tougher for them to get it? It needs to stay in the realms of naughty – not something to mindlessly click on when you’re bored.
It’s way past time that we had the online equivalent of that top shelf, to shield our innocent kids.
DAMAGED By porn
PARTNER With Mark