In an effort to prepare lawyers as advocates for children who have received unwanted exposure to online pornography, americanbar.org published “How Pornography Harms Children: The Advocate’s Role” on January 8, 2018.
How Pornography Harms Children
Normalizes sexual harm
“Research shows that ‘media has a tremendous capacity to teach.’ Excessive media use, particularly where the content is violent, gender-stereotyped, and/or sexually explicit, skews children’s world view, increases high-risk behaviors, and alters their capacity for successful sustained human relationships.”
“Dr. Sharon Cooper (a forensic pediatrician) argues that children and youth are more vulnerable to pornographic images than adults because of mirror neurons in the brain, which convince people that they are actually experiencing what they see. Mirror neurons play an important role in how children learn. They learn in large part by imitation.”
Shapes negative attitudes and behaviors towards women
“Pornography is arguably more sexist and hostile towards women…[which] can teach boys and young men that it is socially acceptable, and even desirable, to behave aggressively towards and demean women.”
“A 2010 study of 50 popular pornographic films suggest that popular pornography contains high levels of physical and verbal aggression…Physical aggression occurred in 88.2% of scenes and verbal aggression in 48.7%.”
Can lead to addiction
“In simple terms, addiction involves an activity that was once enjoyable and eventually evolves into a necessity. Addiction is an extension of reward-based learning that can physically alter the brain and affect later behavior.”
The author concludes, “Exposure to pornography harms children and youth…Lawyers who represent children and youth should be aware that exposure to pornography may be at the root of some of their clients’ undesirable behaviors and should take care not to label their clients as ‘problem children’ or ‘sexual offenders.’ Children’s lawyers should know the risk factors and signs of exposure and be prepared to advocate for and address these needs.”
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