Kids are getting addicted to online porn....in Aotearoa

Folks, the below press release is one I sent out yesterday to select press. It’s not for the fainthearted so consider this a strong language warning.

The sad reality is that kids as young as 5 years-of-age are watching filmed sex; this subject simply must be published and aired, if only to start a national conversation on what our kids are privy to behind closed doors. I’m certainly not going to chastise myself for not knowing what my teenagers are up to every 5 minutes – they are entitled to some privacy, they are entitled to get up to a bit of mischief.

But this time it’s different has never been a more appropriately cheesy cliche, because technology has given the concept of availability and addiction a whole new meaning. I won’t say anymore – read on if you want to know what’s happening in the next room, upstairs or on your doorstep.

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                     08.07.2016

WOULD YOU GIVE A 6-YEAR OLD ALCOHOL? THEN DON’T GIVE THEM PORN  

 

When Brisbane sexologist Liz Walker delivers her Counteracting Porn Culture workshops to parents and education professionals in Auckland and Wellington she won’t be pulling any punches. August 15, 16 and 18 will be the Youth Wellbeing Project founders second crack at getting adult New Zealanders to shed any puritan embarrassment and face facts about kids as young as five-years old accessing pornography – material that according to the 2015 Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls Report, involves gang rape.

Walker, a Masters graduate of Health Science in Sexual Health, has updated the 2016 tour focus to concentrate on sex education as part of an urgent multi-pronged response to the alarming growth of internet porn use among kids.

Kiwi singer and activist, Lizzie Marvelly, supports this kind of work and is “totally on board with talking about sex and porn [to help] kids”. She broached how woefully absent this conversation is here, in her New Zealand Herald blog of January this year:

‘…Teaching teens how to correctly use a condom is important, but it doesn’t give them any insights into how to build a healthy and fulfilling relationship.

‘It also doesn’t begin to deconstruct the porn-informed notions that anal sex is an expectation, that girls should give oral sex as par for the course, that male pleasure is more important than female pleasure, or that hitting and slapping your partner is commonly acceptable…how can we expect them to instinctively figure out what is and isn’t okay in a sexual relationship when their most easily accessible (and most-viewed) reference is online pornography?’

One of the major road blocks in measuring how porn is being used by children is the blatant lack of data.

Dr Sean Sullivan, a clinical psychologist and director of New Zealand’s Abacus Counselling, Training and Supervision service, regularly refers to the lack of research and data in this area, and that’s just for adults: ‘There is little research available to estimate the prevalence of Internet pornography access let alone research about a condition that could be described as an addiction’

Bridget Wilson is an Auckland-based addictions counsellor with eight years of experience; she specializes in sexual addiction, and recently authored an e-novel, Addicted to Love. She’s well aware of the damage addictive online pornography is doing to kids, and also how behind the rest of the world New Zealand is on addressing it. This is a scientific and societal problem that parents and educators need to consider right now.

“Firstly, the human brain doesn’t mature until we’re in our mid 20s, so introducing any mood altering process (like porn) is damaging and arrests development of the brain. The earlier, the more damaging. You wouldn’t give a six-year old alcohol, so why allow them access to porn? This is already happening, folks, so prepare for a tsunami.”

Ms Wilson explains that addiction comes about as the result of a chronic disease of the brain and thus, is a health problem. When faced with this issue many confuse it with a moral or even criminal problem. This is far from helpful with children.

“The human brain is not designed to cope with the huge amounts of mood-altering chemicals that are naturally produced when a person acts out (i.e. compulsively masturbates) to pornographic images. It’s not the porn that’s the problem, it’s the brain. The addict brain always wants more, hence the need for more hard-core images. So in the US for instance, kids are presenting for treatment for sexual addiction in their early twenties. At this stage they’ve been accessing hard-core pornography for half their lives and they can’t function on many levels – can’t talk to female peers, can’t function sexually when presented with the ‘real’ thing [instead of a porn star], and have no ability to be sociable.”

The University of Cambridge recently published findings that support Wilson’s statements. Department of Psychiatry researchers worked on responses from nineteen young men, and concluded that the younger the viewer, the greater response to pornography they will experience – this is being experienced first-hand by Kiwi practitioners today.

The age of clients now signing up with sex therapists like Wellington-based Mary Hodson and
Auckland-based Louise Von Maltitz has plummeted to 13 years old. These kids are facing sexual dysfunction due to immersion in online pornography; it’s instances such as this that spurs Walker to tackle the subject in a no-holds barred fashion. Educators, counsellors and parents all need to be educated enough to help these children. Unfortunately, many professionals, including Wilson and Von Maltitz, agree with Walker that we’re not prepared.