Say no to child pornography

Last Updated 19 August 2015, 17:22 IST

A study reveals 73 pc of kids under-13 have access to Net, making them potential targets for cyber criminals.

The Centre’s recent decision to ban 857 porn websites and “issue guidelines on dealing with child pornography” has come not a day too soon. If children can operate the computer, it’s time to teach them about the perils of pornography.

Most materials are targeted at older audiences, leaving our children unarmed until after many of them have already been exposed to and/or addicted to the explicit content. Like it or not, we need to talk to our kids in an age-appropriate way about the dangers.

Children have two brains, the thinking brain and the feeling brain, and the former needs to stay in charge. Pornography, social-media, texting and safe internet use are all mandatory topics of discussion and if we don’t talk to them, the world sure will. By employing simple analogies, the young kids should be engaged to porn-proof their own brains.

It only takes a few taps on a mobile device for a curious child to find an endless supply of deviant, hardcore stuff – all for free.  Many are, regrettably, exposed to the craving, not knowing that it can damage their developing minds. A difficult discussion must be made easy and empowering by teaching simple concepts about the brain and the process of addiction.

While the toxic exposure threatens to make children vulnerable, the Internet has proven to be a tool for pedophiles as they distribute the destructive stuff engage in explicit conversations with children, and seek victims in chat rooms. Every illegal image is a crime scene but law enforcement agencies lack the resources to protect every victim, nor to identify and charge every abuser.

Blocking of sites are easily circumvented, and children continue to share ways to access sites their friends will tell them about. The serious criminals employ encryption and other technical means to hide their activities. As there is no quick fix solution, education and responsible parenting bears great relevance.

If we insist on giving the children mobile gadgets which extend a hotline into an adult world from the privacy of their own bedrooms, danger lurks. The Internet is a virtual world and, as in the real world, our children must be accompanied until ready to go alone.

Without even searching it out, the illegal imageries are present in pop-up ads, emails, and accidentally found on mistyped or innocuously named web addresses. Online regulation is arduous, as the architecture of web is set up so that |users can access information stored all over the world.

According to a study, pornography was the first sector to post real profits online. They reach a large audience with minimal costs to produce content. The ease of creating websites that allow anyone to be their own publisher, makes online proliferation a near-unstoppable affair.

Tightening access

The controversial industry isn’t going away anytime soon, and just because home Internet access is sought to be tightened (which is good), it doesn’t mean that they have stopped trying to snag our kids. Pornography is said to cause incredible declines in an individual’s working, short-term memory, problem solving ability, common sense, decision making and general intelligence due to the considerable damage done to the human brain.

A study reveals 73 per cent of kids under 13 have access to internet, making them potential targets for cyber criminals. It can be accidental wanderings online or the deliberate searches of a curious teenager on a tablet, smartphone or a laptop or one of the gadgets that have made it indispensable to grow up.

Over a million explicit images are dominating children porno-graphy while constantly being uploaded. Two in five abductions of children ages 15-17 are due to Internet contact. Child pornography is estimated to be a $50 b a year industry. Analysts expect the cell phone porn delivery market alone to reach $3 b by the year end.

Too many parents are apparently expressing anxiety and trepidation over talking to their children. Studies reveal that parents spend lesser time each day with their children about topics unrelated to school. Children develop gender identity by the age of three. If parents don’t impart the vital information early, the child is fed by media and friends, which often are in conflict with what parents want them to have. When parents let media babysit for them, it’s analogous to leaving them alone in a crowd of strangers.

The vile images pollute minds and cause crime on the very values that underpin our society. The damage is both in the area of beliefs and behaviours. The belief damage is about what constitutes a healthy sexual and emotional relationship, while behavioural damage embodies psychologically demoralising, socially inappropriate and illegal behaviours.

As there is no international code of conduct to monitor the menace, on the criminal challenge, every step – where the material is hosted, transmitted, viewed or downloaded – must be tackled. Cyber police must conduct periodic workshops to inform the youth about the perils of the information misuse. It can be deemed a social evil, or defended as a universal right to freedom of expression. Yet, the truth is about violence, degradation, exploitation, coercion and humiliation.

(Published 19 August 2015, 17:22 IST)

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