What happens when young people grow up with porn?

26-10-2023

Christian Life

CNE.news

In France, there are many who argue that porn should be inaccessible to children. Currently, many minors can openly access porn websites. Photo AFP, Lionel Bonaventure

Marie was only about nine years old when she stumbled upon pornographic images. "I found these images very shocking", she recalls. She didn’t see happy romantic couples there. This first encounter drew her into the dark world of porn.

And she is not the only one. A report published by the French Senate in September shows that 80 per cent of minors under 18 have seen pornographic images. Of children younger than 12, a third has been exposed to this type of content, La Croix reports.

Over the years, the age at which children are first confronted with pornography has declined from 14 in 2017 to 10 in 2020. Some blame the possession of smartphones for this development.

Violence

Pornographic images are not innocent pictures of happy couples, Marie points out. She even describes them as ultraviolent. A report by the French High Council for Equality between Women and Men (HCE) confirms that. According to the research, "90 per cent of pornographic content presents unsimulated acts of physical, sexual or verbal violence against women."

Therefore, porn has the potential to leave lasting marks on the lives of those who watch it, especially on the lives of youngsters. Psychiatrist David Cohen, who co-authored a report on the topic, points out that there has not been found a causal link between certain behaviours and pornography. However, there seems to be a correlation, he adds. "We know that [pornography] is particularly associated with unrealistic attitudes in terms of sexual performance, which leads to more permissive and frequent sexuality, or to a form of awkwardness in intimate relationships." In addition, Cohen found out that pornography reinforces sexist behaviour.

Answers

Marie experienced that as well, she says. "At one point, I was watching a lot of it, and I was hit on the head when I realised that I was not able to use my imagination. Later, when I had my first sex, I could not climax with my partner", she acknowledges.

Béatrice Copper-Royer, a clinical psychologist in France, recognises that problem. She points out that many teenagers search for pornography to find answers to their questions on sexuality. "At this age, they ask themselves healthy questions, and pornography provides them with unhealthy answers", she says. According to the psychiatrist, porn sets standards based on performance, which can make some young men, in particular, feel insecure about their own performance.

In addition, porn leads to distorted images of women in particular, Professor Israel Nisand, an obstetrician-gynaecologist, adds. He even calls pornography an "education in non-consent". Women are portrayed as being there to serve, he points out. "This detestable ideology is partly responsible for the increase in sexual violence between the sexes."

Flashbacks

For children, pornography can even lead to traumas, says Sandie Cariat, who works as a school nurse in the French town of Hérault. "Those who come to see me are ashamed. They are afraid of being judged by their friends and worry that parents will find out", she notices. Pornography can even lead to a drop in grades, difficulty concentrating and having to deal with flashbacks from scenes that were watched, she adds.

Psychologist Béatrice Copper sees children who are "terribly afraid and sometimes develop somatic disorders". Others are so traumatised that they see sexual relationships as something disgusting, as they have no other representations, she points out.

Guilt

Young people in their puberty are especially vulnerable to the addicting effects of pornography, says Tanguy Lafforgue, a psycho practitioner. Because porn leads to a feeling of excitement, it has a significant potential to be addictive. And once it gets someone hooked, "it leads to a feeling of shame and guilt that is all the stronger", Lafforgue emphasises.

Chain

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