Another excellent and passionate piece by Shazia Hobbs the author of the novel ‘The Goris Daughter’. It is about her concerns about the over sexualisation of children and the far too easy access to pornography that young people have today. Ms Hobb’s post shows the sheer scale of the problem of children having access to porn and the situation today is a world away from what it was when I was a teenager. Back then porn was something that was printed on paper and was to be occasionally found dumped under hedges or under abandoned railway bridges, not easily accessibly on a mobile device. As always, Ms Hobbs writing is superb. The answer to the question of restricting children’s access to questionable material lies with parents. Parents need to step up to the plate and do their job of checking what their children see and not sub-contract it out to the government.
This is an excellent piece that outlines a very serious and pervasive problem facing parents today, parents who may have grown up in a non-digital world (or in my case a ‘valve’ world) and also may have little comprehension about how the digital world works. The internet has been likened to the worlds biggest and most open library but even the greatest library needs a librarian and it’s now time for parents to become the internet librarian for their children.
The stolen innocence of children – By Shazia Hobbs
A few years ago I watched a documentary by Martin Daubaney; former editor of Loaded magazine, on the effects porn addiction has on 14-16 year olds. I started following him on Twitter and became aware of the dangers of children becoming addicted to porn.
I talk to other parents about this, I have a 9-year-old daughter, and most parents are absolutely fucking clueless at how smart children can be with their smartphones and iPads. Oblivious to the porn their young child could potentially view.
These are the parents who give in to their children’s demands for a smartphone and for their seventh birthdays they unwrap a shiny new iPhone4. Who in their right mind thinks it’s a good idea for children to have access to the world, unsupervised? I’m not suggesting all parents who give iPhones to their children are ignorant; many parents take steps to ensure their child stays safe while online.
I used to call them lazy parents but now after talking to some I just think they are in denial about the dangers of the World Wide Web. Uneducated. Even when you have explained or sent links to articles highlighting the blatant fucking dangers in allowing young inquisitive minds uncensored access to the world, the world at their fingertips, they refuse to listen. And by really listening, I mean making changes and safeguarding their children from harm instead of thinking ‘Oh that kind of stuff only happens in schools down in England.’ Or ‘My son/daughter would never look at something inappropriate and I know for certain that they would come and talk to me.’ How will they talk to you when you have not made them aware of the dangers?
It scared me when I read that we are the first generation of parents who need to talk about porn to our children. Part of me can understand why parents would rather bury their hand in the sand. We, after all, are the generation of children whose parents never even discussed sex; if a kissing scene was shown on the TV, ‘Close your eyes’ is what many of us were told. We cannot even begin to imagine having the sex talk with our children never mind having to discuss porn.
This generation has had its innocence stolen from the very people meant to protect them. Where did it go wrong? Child protection has failed spectacularly when it comes to protecting children from harmful images and videos via the web.
As a society some of us are aware of the dangers of young minds being exposed to porn. If they are addicted at ten is it any surprise that they are impotent by the time they have reached their late teens? If they are addicted at ten is it any surprise that there is an increase of children being sexually abused and raped by other children?
Being aware of this danger didn’t stop me from feeling sick when I realised that my daughter’s primary school was one of the, no doubt many, schools, visited by the police. Even though the visit was to talk to P7 boys and girls about the dangers of Porn Hub and thankfully not my daughter’s class, I was still in shock. Traumatised because my daughter shares a playground with these older boys and girls. And these boys and girls had been looking at Porn Hub, in the playground.
All of us can remember our primary school days and I know I looked up to the P7 kids because they were in their final year of primary school, next year high school. And lets be honest we always wanted to be older than we were, especially in primary school.
If parents supervised what their precious little children and teens were looking at while browsing the web we wouldn’t be seeing the worrying figures of porn addiction amongst children and young people. We wouldn’t be seeing an increase of rape and sexual abuse crimes being committed by children against other children. I read of a case in England, where three 10/11-year-old boys sexually abused a boy of four, in the school toilets during school hours. School is the one place where you expect your child to be safe. Not anymore it seems.
Instead parents trust their children to stay safe online, without putting any safeguarding strategies in place for them. We all believe our children will come and talk to us if they see something that worries them yet reality shows very few children do. If you do not have the ‘porn talk’ with your child then at least make them aware of what they might come across with their free pass to the big bad world.
It breaks my heart to think soon I will need to be having that talk with my daughter. My daughter who has just celebrated her birthday, her 9th birthday should be protected from all things pornographic. My daughter doesn’t quite understand the concept of sex because I have tried to keep her innocent for as long as possible. And thanks to the fuckwits in power and the foolish parents who say yes to everything their child demands I need to shatter that innocence, sooner than I would have liked to.
Next year as part of the school curriculum she will be learning about relationships and how babies are born. Relationship lessons at the tender age of nine, seriously? Whoever is in charge of the school curriculum needs to be swiftly removed.
If you are blind to the dangers porn addiction is having on young children and make no provision to include lessons on the dangers and educate them instead of teaching them about relationships then you are not fit for your job.
My primary school days were total bliss compared to my daughters’ generation. Their life on social media from the day they are conceived to the day when they are old enough to take over their own social media presence is something I am grateful that I missed out on. A generation raised on how many likes, comments, views and RT’s their picture gets. A generation that when the school bell rings at the end of the day their first thought is to take their phones out their school bags and take selfies with their besties.
Once innocence is lost you cannot get it back and it is too late for my daughters generation, the damage is being done in bedrooms throughout the UK where children are left alone. I refuse to believe that our politicians cannot lobby for urgent change. One rape of a child by another child should have been enough to see the damage and devastation it causes when children have access to porn. If parents are dumb enough to allow their child access then the government should be protecting children.
Knowing children have access to porn and not lobbying, loudly and daily for change to protect them is a shocking. If schools can have security in place to stop children searching or accidentally coming across inappropriate content then surely that level of protection should be offered to homes? If I was cynical I would think those in charge do not give a shit about the loss of children’s innocence and are happy to eradicate it completely.
Some days I wish I was sleeping like many other parents, days when I think I cannot possibly become anymore traumatised by what I am reading, days spent in an endless cycle of disbelief it would be so much easier on those days to be ignorant to it all.
Mostly I am glad I am aware, glad that even if other parents are ignorant and not keeping their children safe, I am taking steps to ensure that my daughter is safe as she can possibly be and if that means having to listen to the never ending whine of ‘What’s the point in having an Ipad if I don’t have Google on it?’ Her world hasn’t ended because I have not allowed her access to the cyber world. She’s a child and children get over it and find other things to occupy their inquisitive minds. The cyber world can wait a while longer before it steals my child’s innocence.