Thank you, Melissa, for highlighting the tragic costs associated with the making of internet pornography. This week I would like to focus on how children and teenagers the world over are paying dearly for society’s growing love affair with internet pornography. Viewers of internet pornography play a role in this type of abuse and exploitation of children and teens. On its Child Protection website, Unicef explains:
"In 2002, the World Health Organization estimated that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 years experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence involving physical contact. Millions more are likely exploited in prostitution or pornography each year, most of the times lured or forced into these situations through false promises and limited knowledge about the risks. Yet the true magnitude of sexual violence is hidden because of its sensitive and illegal nature. Most children and families do not report cases of abuse and exploitation because of stigma, fear, and lack of trust in the authorities. Social tolerance and lack of awareness also contribute to under-reporting.”
On a page about the Sexual Exploitation of Children, World Vision notes that an estimated two million girls and boys are enslaved in the global commercial sex trade, which is fuelled in part by internet pornography. The website states that:
- Sex trafficking affects an estimated 1.2 million children per year.
- Child sex trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar industry, many of whom are trafficked for commercial sex work.
- Children work in brothels and some living away from home have been used to make pornographic films.
- Sex trafficking occurs in In all countries, both rich and poor. Thailand, Cambodia, India and Brazil have some of the highest rates of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
- Although children from all social and economic backgrounds are at risk of sexual abuse, those most vulnerable live in economically depressed situations. Street children are particularly vulnerable, as they have very few resources and networks to turn to for protection.
- Pornography and promotion of sex tours on the internet all contribute to the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
- Poverty, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, illiteracy and lack of education also perpetuate both commercial and non-commercial exploitation, as do cultural mores that devalue women and girls.
This year’s Abuse Awareness flyer states: “False thinking prevails about internet pornography: It’s no big deal; it’s just pictures, no harm done, a victimless pastime; it’s normal, something to be tolerated in the broken world in which we live.”
But the negative impact of pornography is a big deal! The flyer goes on to explain, “In the pictures, people look happy, hiding the fact that many are forced, manipulated or threatened to produce them. Children are exposed to graphic images as they do their homework. Marriages, relationships, and individuals are harmed by its use. Yet we don’t talk about it. Internet pornography doesn’t belong in Christian community.”
Take the time now to educate yourself and your family about the risks and harms associated with internet pornography. It’s time to talk about this important issue in our communities and our homes.