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The visceral reaction in Britain to Prime Minister David Cameron’s new rule requiring all Internet providers to block pornography unless users specifically request otherwise has been astounding.
One person has devised an extension to the Chrome browser that reroutes access and allows people to get around the restrictions without making their intentions known. He calls it “Go away Cameron,” or GAC, for short.
The sheer foolishness and cruelty of such a device should be obvious to people who understand pornography’s effects on modern society. Not only does it compromise and degrade the psyches of the subjects it portrays, it distorts human interactions and expectations among those who view it, and in many cases leads to addictions that can cause people to cease functioning.
Cameron has explained he wants to prevent children from accidentally stumbling upon pornography online. If nations truly value children and their futures, his initiative ought to be copied worldwide. But the way people quickly are developing work-around strategies to thwart Cameron points out the difficulties involved in protecting young people.
Parents face the enormous obligation to teach their children how to avoid such images and to guide them through the landmines they might encounter both at home and on computers at friends’ houses or elsewhere.
That is clear also from the Deseret News report on adolescent pornography addiction, by Sara Israelsen-Hartley. Perhaps the most heart-wrenching quote in that piece is from Clay Olsen, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Fight the New Drug. He asks, “As a 7-year-old gets not just exposed, but develops a compulsion to viewing hard-core, violent pornography, what is that doing to their attitudes and perceptions toward women, love and what intimacy looks like?”
Pornography, he said, is “really kind of messing our society up.” That may be an understatement. As more young people are exposed to it and develop habits associated with viewing it, they will have trouble developing healthy relationships that could lead to well-adjusted family life.
At its worst, such an early exposure can lead to murder. In Colorado late last year, a judge sentenced 18-year-old Austin Sigg to life in prison for murdering and dismembering a 10-year-old girl. Sigg said the trouble started when he became addicted to pornography at an early age. He wrote to a Christian Therapist asking for help. But the problem started anew after the therapy ended. He told a detective he watched violent porn and decided to act out his fantasies, the Denver Post reported.
That is an extreme case, of course, But even at its best, early exposure to pornography likely results in distorted expectations from members of the opposite sex and an inability to see them as much other than objects. Early exposure leads to a greater likelihood of engaging in promiscuous behavior, often involving aggression, research shows. Young minds are developing connections that set the tone for a lifetime of behavior.
And while finding a 7-year-old who is addicted to hard-core pornography is unusual, it is not unheard of. As the Deseret News report says, the age of first exposure is continually getting younger. Today it is around age 11 or 12, on average. Many parents can attest to the difficulty involved in keeping children away from unwanted images, even of a softer variety, that are so prevalent on the Internet.
Viewed with a full understanding of the risks and hazards involved, and the innocent age of the youngest victims, to spend time and energy thwarting Britain’s new restrictions should be unthinkable. Instead, public opinion ought to be squarely behind the prime minister and urging politicians in the United States to follow his lead.
The stakes are as high as the public’s level of ignorance on the subject.