National Child Protection Council Addresses Child Pornography

Authored by: Matt Maura
Source: Bahamas Information Services
Date: April 18, 2016

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Pornography has become the “perfect drug or the new cocaine” for citizens globally due to its accessibility, availability and affordability, but not just among adults.

Officials say children as young as five years of age have access to pornographic images on a daily basis due to the fact that they are allowed to surf the Internet, watch television and have access to Smart Phones without parental supervision. Many others have private televisions in their bedrooms that they are allowed to watch, once again unsupervised, while one-in-ten children have access to a mobile or smart phone that many adults do not know how to operate.

Research further shows that more and more children’s magazines, children’s books, game consoles, television shows, music tracts and videos, movies, 900 numbers, etcetera, are featuring more and more explicit programming/material that contain what is basically “soft porn” images.

“Pornography is having a more powerful, negative, impact on children than video-gaming and junk food combined,” Dr. Novia Carter, a senior child psychologist with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said.

“Pornography re-programmes the brain, especially in children and adolescents. Parents need to be more aware of what their children are watching; what they are listening to; what they are doing with their smart phones, and be more vigilant of the sites their children are visiting on the Internet, which — while still maintaining its value as an educational tool — is being used as a tool to draw more and more children into the world of pornography and to sexually exploit them.”

Statistics also show that 90 per cent of 8-16 year-olds have viewed porn images online – most while doing homework; that the average age of a child’s first Internet exposure to pornography was at 11 years of age; that 80 per cent of 15-17 year-olds have had multiple exposures to hardcore pornography and that the largest consumer of Internet pornography, was the 12-17 age group category.

Conversely, 1 in 7 children are sexually solicited online everyday; 1 in 3 children are exposed to pornographic images online daily and that an estimated 80 per cent of convicted sex offenders have access to a computer and are online daily.

A Study done in the United Kingdom, indicated that there is a growing concern about access to adult material and grooming by paedophiles for children in the 5-7 age-group category after the same study showed that 1-5 children aged 5-7 had unlimited, unsupervised access to the internet without parental supervision.

Dr. Carter, who also serves as the Co-Chairperson of the National Child Protection Council (NCPC) and is the Author/Creator of the local Children’s Coloring Book, Say No, Then Go,urged parents to be more vigilant with their children.

She said the introduction of smart phones and internet-based applications, are not only allowing young children to “interact with persons outside of the household,” but to also get involved in pornographic activity which can come back to haunt them later in life.

“Remember in the past when you were sent to your room as a punishment because there was very little to do in that room outside of your homework or going to sleep? That’s no longer the case as some children are using that as an opportunity to go online; to use their smart phones and all the apps available to them in ways that can be detrimental to them,” Dr. Carter said.

“Take into consideration that statistics in the United States of America indicate that 80 per cent of convicted sexual offenders have access to computers and are online daily. Statistics further show that 1-3 children are exposed to pornographic images online everyday while 1-7 are sexually solicited online everyday. Do the numbers.”

Dr. Carter warned parents and/or guardians not to downplay the statistics just because they reflect what is going on in the United States of America and other parts of the world that may seem far away from The Bahamas and therefore “out of reach.”

“It’s called the worldwide web for a reason,” Dr. Carter added.