Right to innocence

safetynet campaign image
safetynet campaign image
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Responsible parent strides across the living room, snatches the TV remote and clicks the scene on the screen from raunchy sex romp - in the middle of a prime-time soap, can you believe - to Holby City.

And keeps her fingers crossed.

Same responsible parent has a row with her 13-year-old son because she steadfastly refuses to buy him the latest video game of gun-toting heroes blasting each other to bits.

She’s already in his bad books; the other day, she banned him from renting a DVD of a movie censors had long ago decided was way too adult for kids his age.

But do such parents have the faintest clue about what their kids see when they’re online?

We are acutely aware of the need to protect our children from sex and violence in rental films, video games and on TV.

But how many know this utterly shocking statistic; one in three 10-year-olds have stumbled across, and viewed, pornography online.

Here’s another: the single largest group of those who see internet pornography are children aged between 12 and 17.

And another: 81 per cent of 14-16 year-olds are regularly accessing explicit photographs and footage on their home computers and mobile phone.

Some are purposely seeking it out. Others are the innocent and unsuspecting victims of what campaigners say is deliberate targeting.

According to a recent UK study, 26 popular children’s characters, such as Pokemon, My Little Pony and Action Man, revealed thousands of links to porn sites - 30 per cent of which were hard-core.

Campaigners estimate a quarter of porn sites cynically misuse popular brand names in search engine magnets, tags and links. As a result, any child with unrestricted Internet access can end up viewing the type of images you’d fight tooth and nail to protect them from.

The dangers to children from viewing gratuitous sex are manifold. But it can also lead to an urge to view more and more - which the porn industry knows full-well.

Hence, it’s common practice for Internet “pornopreneurs” to put free teaser images on their web sites as enticements to solicit new subscribers.

“Giving porn to a teenage boy is like giving crack to a baby. Addiction is almost guaranteed. No wonder boys aged 12-17 are the porn industry’s core target,” says Mark Kastleman, author of The Drug of the New Millennium, a book about how pornography affects the brain.

A call to Government to legislate internet service providers, forcing them to protect young people from online porn, was made this week by Britain’s largest Christian media organisation.

Safetynet – Protecting Innocence Online, launched by the Premier Christian Media Trust, calls the introduction of laws which demand that pornography be filtered at source by the mega-rich companies who channel the Internet into our homes.

Under the proposed rules, Internet providers would have to face up to their moral responsibility to customers.

Adults would still have the choice to access porn, but children would have the freedom to surf the internet safely.

It makes total sense; there are adults-only rules in sex shops.

Newsagents aren’t allowed to sell top-shelf magazines to children.

So why on earth should kids be able to access sexually explicit material in their own bedrooms?