The findings earlier this week from NSPCC and Childline that one in ten 12 and 13 year olds are worried they are addicted to online porn may cause us to stop and question how safe the internet really is. Out of the 700 children who were surveyed, 12% said that they had taken part in or had made a sexually explicit video. Rightly so, this news cut through the rabble of noise coming out of Westminster and beyond in the run up to the General Election, and was reported on widely throughout the UK media and abroad.
But why? Why did this receive so much attention? Are we shocked that watching pornography can become addictive or are we shocked that children are viewing it? Are we not shocked at all?
Perhaps it was their age?
Just this week we also heard that the MP Simon Danczuk admitted to watching porn and this did not throw up much of a storm. And I would venture a guess that if he explained that his usage was a frequent habit or perhaps a necessity, there would have been a similar indifference from the public.
It is puzzling that there have been two quite different reactions to the two reports on porn usage. Are we saying as a society that beyond a certain age, it is acceptable to watch porn and be exposed to its content and consequences? As if someone is exempt from the harmful consequences beyond a certain age.
Research is starting emerge to say that addiction to porn is as serious as that of heroin and cocaine, and this is not restrained to age. It is concerning to see that the number of children accessing pornography is currently growing.
Children know however, the dangers of drugs and society warms them too. I remember sitting in a primary school lesson taught by a policeman who passed round small plastic cases with replica drugs in them. This was accompanied by a serious lecture about the dangers of drugs with the clear message “Don’t Do Drugs”.
Porn is far more easily and affordably accessible than drugs and most likely has far more users than drugs among teenagers. Many think that pornography is the drug of the 21st century; our friends at Fight the New drug are leading this front.
Will our country take this as the moment that we say; ‘we have a problem’ or do we need to wait until there are more children confessing addiction.
Is one in ten not scary enough as it is?