Term Paper: Pornography &amp Children

Pages: 8 (2759 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Literature on the subject, in fact, suggests a host of social and psychological consequences ranging from guilt, shame, and fear to depression, hysteria, and difficulties in learning and interpersonal relationships. While some of these effects such as physical and somatic complaints are short-term, others stay with the victim carrying over into adulthood. For example, adult women who were sexually abused as children report that the negative emotions experienced led to drug abuse, sexual dysfunction, negative self-image, and even allowing repeated victimization (Maney & Wells, p. 3).

Thus, it is evident from the discussion so far that the widespread prevalence of pornography, especially child pornography has grave implications for the psychological development of children and indeed, for the very future of societal welfare. Indeed, it can be said that what is at stake is the dignity of women and children, and ultimately the male perpetrators themselves. For, in a world of ultimate physical hedonism, there is no room for consideration of either familial or social values leading to the breakdown of relationships, as we currently know it. This is highly evident given the growing reports of child sexual abuse by a family member, the widespread prevalence of pedophilia, and a flourishing trade in child prostitution and sex tourism. In fact, it is estimated that about 1.2 million children are annually exploited through child pornography and prostitution and that approximately 70% of pornographic magazines sold eventually end up in the hands of minors (The Forerunner).

All these facts pretty much lead to the conclusion that whole generations of children are growing up psychologically confused between what they are taught by family and in school and the lessons they learn from the pornographic material or behavior that they are exposed to. This is especially true of children since childhood is a curious contradiction, being a period in which a number of powerful traits dominate behavior such as innocence, curiosity, and trust. The contradiction is that the very traits that make children endearing, render them that much more vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Thus, it is difficult for parents who are caught between encouraging their children to explore their world and trust it while at the same time warning them about the dangers lurking there especially from pedophiles (O'Grady, 2001). Striking a balance is, therefore, extremely important since during certain periods of childhood, a child's brain is being programmed for sexual orientation. Thus, exposure to healthy sexual norms and attitudes during the critical period can result in the child developing a healthy sexual orientation. On the other hand, exposure to pornography or abuse during this period can lead to sexual deviance becoming a permanent part of a child's sexual outlook (Hughes, 1998).

Interestingly, the most popular theory about pedophiles is that they are likely to have been victims of child abuse themselves and so, the child grows into the adult abuser. Pedophiles, however, constitute the greatest threat to children given the fact that they are obsessive, stalk their chosen victims and take pride in collecting and keeping records in the form of videos and photographs of the children they abuse (O'Grady, 2001). Although pedophilia is now an illegal act in every country in the world, the sad truth is that child sex tourism and prostitution is a flourishing business in poor, developing countries. In fact, it is estimated that over 1 million children under the age of sixteen are being kept in brothels throughout Asia (O'Grady, 2001).

While, no doubt, the presence of child prostitution in developing countries may be, in part, to cater to local demand, the fact remains that child sex tourism is a growing phenomena leading to the dehumanization and degradation of children already suffering from the adverse effects of poverty and deprivation. These children additionally face the risk of irreparable psychological problems not to mention severe health risks in the form of sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS. It is also highly likely that such children will grow up with marked anti-social values and behavior given the trauma suffered during their formative years and society's failure to protect and nurture them.

Fortunately, there seems to be a growing recognition of the need to protect children world over leading to an international drive against child sex tourism. A great deal, however, remains to be achieved especially in the area of resolving the role the Internet plays in promoting pornography, in particular child pornography and child sex tourism. In fact, the Internet has become a highly effective tool in promoting child sex tourism to the extent that packages for tourists, including air fares, hotels, and directions to brothels are advertised. The influence of the Internet in encouraging pornography use is evident in the figures compiled by several studies, which have been cited by Stewart (1997): "At any given time, there are, on average, around 1 million sexually explicit pictures of children.... In just one week in December 1995, 5651 messages on child pornography were posted on just 4 electronic bulletin boards." Given the reach of the Internet and the magnitude of the problem, it is critical that internal co-operation and commitment takes place on a scale big and serious enough to eliminate the role the medium plays in the spread of child pornography and abuse.

In this connection, it is encouraging that the efforts of ECPAT, the unanimous acceptance of a joint Agenda for Action by 122 countries at the World Congress in 1996, the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989 (O'Grady, 2001) has led to legislation in several countries that allows prosecution of child sex tourists on their return home. In a similar fashion, given the overwhelming evidence that pornography does have harmful effects on both adults and children, it is important that the government, social institutions, and family units take the necessary steps to regulate the content and availability of pornographic material domestically as well.

To do so, it would be important to reach an agreement over the ongoing debate between freedom of expression and whether it applies to pornographic material. This involves a consensus that even soft porn ultimately leads to harmful effects on adult and child behavior alike. While such resolution may take time, it is important that society, especially the immediate family, take the necessary steps to educate children about healthy sexual values and the dangers of interacting with strangers on the subject.

Unless society succeeds in collectively resolving to stop the harm caused by pornography, it will only have itself to blame if its most vulnerable members grow up possessing less-than-wholesome social and family values, endangering the very foundation of civilized human societies.

Works Cited

Cline, Dr. V.B. "Pornography's Effects on Adults and Children." Morality in Media, Inc. Web site. Accessed June 14, 2004: http://www.moralityinmedia.org/index.htm?pornsEffectsArticles/harmfuleffects.htm

Hughes, D.R. "How Pornography Harms Children." ProtectKids.com Accessed June 14, 2004: http://www.protectkids.com/effects/harms.htm

Maney, A. & Wells, S. "Professional Responsibilities in Protecting Children: A Public Health Approach to Child Sexual Abuse." Praeger, 1998.

MegaEpix. "Possible Harmful Effects of Pornography in Society." Accessed June

14, 2004: http://ygraine.membrane.com/enterhtml/live/Dark/porn.html

O'Grady, R. "Eradicating Pedophilia: Towards the Humanization of Society."

Journal of International Affairs. Vol. 55:1, p. 123+.

Stewart, J. "If this is the global community we must be on the bad side of town:

international policing of child pornography on the Internet." Houston Journal of International Law. Vol. 20:1, p. 205.

The Forerunner. "The Documented Effects of Pornography." Media House

International… [END OF PREVIEW]

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